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MongoDB grows Asian footprint through Alibaba Cloud

MongoDB teams up with Alibaba Cloud to expand its presence in Asia-Pacific as it prepares to release a serverless variant of the open-source database

Open source database company MongoDB is expanding its reach in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region through a partnership with Alibaba Cloud.

Speaking at a virtual media roundtable, Alan Chhabra, senior vice-president for worldwide partners and APAC sales at MongoDB, said the company’s latest 4.4 version of the MongoDB database will soon be available through Alibaba’s ApsaraDB for MongoDB service.

As a managed database service, ApsaraDB for MongoDB includes automatic monitoring, backup, and disaster tolerance capabilities. This alleviates the need for enterprises to perform time-consuming database management tasks and enables them to focus on application development.

Unlike traditional relational databases, MongoDB is a document-based NoSQL database that is better suited for handling unstructured data. Popular with cloud application developers, the database has been downloaded more than 100 million times over the past decade, most of which are in Asia, according to Chhabra.

MongoDB claims to have 18,000 paying customers, and has established operations in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. “We’re very excited about expanding our presence in Asia,” said Chhabra.

He noted that MongoDB’s partnership with Alibaba Cloud comes at a time when enterprises are looking to become more agile to stay ahead of the competition.

“In the last 20 years, companies saw the need to modernise and transform, and for their developers to increase productivity,” said Chhabra, adding that the biggest blocker for that transformation is data.

“In the 1990s, data was basically someone’s name, address and identification number – it was very easy to put it into a rolling column spreadsheet, and for applications to use the data because the data was very structured,” he said.

“Today, data has exploded and it’s extremely unstructured. If you’re trying to innovate, you need to handle data differently…and if developers don’t have a good way of dealing with that data, they will not be able to build their software fast enough and get it out to market.”

Li Feifei, president of database systems at Alibaba, said ApsaraDB for MongoDB will be available in China and other Alibaba Cloud regions including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and India.

Read more about databases in APAC

Asked about plans to offer enterprises more flexibility in determining the CPU-memory ratios for each database instance, Li said Alibaba Cloud is working with MongoDB’s engineers to develop a serverless variant of MongoDB.

“The traditional way of purchasing and using a database service requires you to specify the configuration of your database and set it up ahead of time,” he said. “Serverless technology will mitigate this issue and give customers more flexibility on how much and when to allocate CPU and/or memory resources in an on-demand, real-time fashion.”

The serverless variant of MongoDB is expected to be released in the next few months, but Li said that is not the only way to allocate resources on demand. 

He said enterprises can also tap the ability of cloud providers to automatically scale up or scale down resources from one database configuration to another, based on workload demands.

In the case of Alibaba Cloud, Li said the cloud supplier has a database autonomy service that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to enable auto-scaling, among other capabilities.

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