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Dynamic schema means you can change the schema without modifying your data, which is huge in terms of flexibility. It’s also horizontally scalable—another massive plus. This one-two punch in flexibility and scalability equals knockout performance. But NoSQL generally can’t outperform the SQL databases like our other Editors’ Choice Microsoft Azure SQL Database or Google BigQuery when it comes to complex querying, applications packed with many rows, or a legacy system superglued to a relational structure. Still, MongoDB Atlas is a robust database that is almost perfect for developers. If you’re looking for NoSQL, then MongoDB Atlas is an excellent pick. Most developers can speed through continuous delivery models without any database adminstrator (DBA) hand holding.
True to its open-source roots, MongoDB Atlas offers a free “forever” version. Indeed, there are over 100,000 clusters deployed in the free tier now. Essentially, the free tier is a sandbox with 512 MB of storage and shared random access memory (RAM).
It’s a sweet setup, especially for developers, but if you need more, you can move up to the Essential tier for dedicated instances and pay $9 per month or move up to the Professional tier for enterprise-grade support and tools, including MongoDB Compass, for $25 per month. Dedicated clusters start at $60 per month at the 10GB storage level.
Step by Step
Registering for the free tier takes only a few seconds. Then you choose a cloud provider and region. The software flags free cloud and region tiers for you in case you want to take advantage of that, but you’re free to choose whatever you wish. It took about 7 minutes to set up a new cluster.
You’ll get prompted to set up your Internet Protocol (IP) whitelist and other security settings while you wait. Connect with your new cluster using Mongo Shell, which you’ll need to download and install if you don’t already have it. Beneath the Download button, select the version of Mongo Shell you are using. Copy the URI Connection String to the clipboard so you can use it to connect to the cluster. It will connect you to a test database. If you would rather connect to a different database, then change “test” to the database you want to use. You can also connect with MongoDB Compass to manipulate and visualize your data.
Once you’re logged in, the MongoDB Atlas user interface (UI) automatically opens a cluster creation dialog. It’s a brilliantly simple UI. Select instance size, region, and the features you want. MongoDB Atlas will automatically set up everything you need. Yes, it’s that easy to spin up a new cluster.
A Migrate Data wizard helps migrate data from on-premises MongoDB versions. If you want to migrate the data back to on-premises again, then you can use MongoDB Cloud Manager or MongoDB Ops Manager to do that easily. Open data sets are available on MongoD Atlas if you want to give it a test drive first. But loading JSON data is easy. The UI is intuitive, making it simple to move through the entire process. The system will scale automatically as your actions dictate. You can also pause a cluster to put it in a reduced cost state or set alerts to make sure you don’t cross any budget thresholds. Meanwhile, the Stitch hosted back end lets you access MongoDB Atlas and other services securely, plus manage data manipulation for faster, simpler app building and querying.
MongoDB Atlas provides backups that you can query, delivering a time machine of sorts. You can even bring that action back into a live cluster. You can also set up a staging cluster from backups of backups, such as the previous week’s production backups. The flexibility in MongoDB Atlas is impressive. You
ML fuels several functions and delivers recommendations tailored to the user aimed at improving performance. Dashboard metrics are reported in real time, enabling easy monitoring and management of large data estates. In addition, the Command Line Tools tab contains the data import and export tools as well as other connection tools and copyable templates.
MongoDB Atlas is a cross-platform but consistent database, meaning it extends to public clouds: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Cloud. It has plenty of regions for compliance control and putting apps close to data for better performance, so you have lots of options in both cloud platforms and regions. You can scale up or down with zero app downtime.
The DBaaS handles backups by default, so there’s no forgetting to do it. And auto-scaling provides peace of mind that you don’t run out of storage. Don’t worry, as you’ll get alerts before that happens provided you set those up earlier. It’s convenient to keep working with no need to stop and adjust the scaling.
Each of the public cloud platforms provide users with service-level agreements (SLAs), and those apply according to where you choose to use MongoDB Atlas. But MongoDB has some performance assurances of its own. You can find the actual SLA here. Unlike many of its peers, this SLA is clear and to the point: If less than 99.95 percent but equal to or greater than 99-percent performance is delivered, then you’ll get a 10-percent service credit. Or, if performance dips below 99 percent, then you’ll be compensated with a 25-percent service credit.
Your options are a same or multi-region failover scheme, either of which makes a secondary a primary whenever a primary incurs an outage. There’s even a way to test the failovers with a command by the same name but often jokingly referred to by the MongoDB team as “the chaos button.” Having that much control is no joke, although it probably will leave users smiling.
There are plenty of reasons why MongoDB is a popular NoSQL database, and that favorability extends to its DBaaS form, MongoDB Atlas. In terms of its practical, day-to-day usage, MongoDB Atlas is hard to beat. The downside is that some applications require SQL, and it falters at some compliance issues, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which would knock MongoDB Atlas out of consideration for some users. However, the company is working on addressing the HIPAA issue now. Its downsides are mostly the same as the MongoDB on-premises versions.
Some issues with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance can be addressed, in part, by the large number of regions offered via the three public clouds. But developers have to pay attention and make the right choices in order to be in compliance. Developers also need to be aware of potential regulatory issues and plan their work accordingly.