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Why build apps on a cloud-native database like MongoDB Atlas?

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IT departments today are being challenged to adopt new and far more strategic roles within the organizations they serve. As more businesses turn to technology as a competitive differentiator, IT is being challenged to step away from its traditional focus on running infrastructure and to step up as a strategic business function—delivering software and services that support innovation and create compelling customer experiences.

Modern, cloud-native applications are critical to this transformation. The cloud allows IT organizations to retire legacy applications and infrastructure, and to deliver software that is far more resilient and scalable—without sacrificing usability and performance.

The legacy database: a weak link in the cloud-native chain

As businesses migrate to managed infrastructure and cloud-native apps, on-prem legacy database systems have emerged as a serious barrier to scalability and performance. As a result, more businesses are turning to new database options such as MongoDB Atlas that are designed to meet the demands of modern, cloud-native environments.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: Legacy databases were designed for environments where data came in small, tidy packages and where scalability wasn't a major requirement. That makes these systems a poor fit for cloud-native applications that are built to scale and that drive massive amounts of data.

JSON-based document databases like MongoDB, on the other hand, are very well-suited for modern application development methods: teams can store data in a format not unlike the objects in their code, allowing them to work quickly and efficiently. And as a managed database-as-a-service solution, MongoDB Atlas gives IT organizations an alternative to the cost and complexity of an on-premises, legacy system.

AutoTrader UK builds a future on MongoDB Atlas

AutoTrader UK is a great example of an IT organization that's using MongoDB Atlas on Google Cloud to modernize its legacy databases in favor of a fully managed, database-as-a-service platform. AutoTrader UK relied heavily on Oracle and SQL Server but began using MongoDB in its own data centers so that its development teams could move faster. After migrating to MongoDB Atlas, the company retained all of the advantages of its self-managed MongoDB environment, but shed the operational and infrastructure complexity. This was a critical move for a company built almost entirely on the value of its business data, and where scalability and resource management posed especially pressing challenges.

To release new features faster, AutoTrader UK launched multiple initiatives to improve team efficiency and agility, including migrating entirely to the cloud and moving off legacy databases. Their team already had experience with and enjoyed using various Google Cloud services like Dataflow and BigQuery, which helped fuel their decision to migrate entirely to Google Cloud - replacing their Oracle database with Cloud SQL - and MongoDB Atlas. As Russell Warman, Head of Infrastructure at AutoTrader put it: “From a business perspective, migrating to Google Cloud Platform means we can get ideas up and running quickly, enabling us to build brilliant new products, helping us to continue to lead in this space.”

The company's developers now roll out new products far more quickly and with greater confidence, and the company has since made big strides in decommissioning its on-premises data center. This brought IT's legacy management burden under control, along with infrastructure and related costs.

Just as important, the move to MongoDB Atlas and Cloud SQL set the stage for AutoTrader UK to compete and win with software. The company's development team pushed over 36,000 releases live in a year including more than 450 releases in a single day. With nearly 270 apps deployed in the public cloud today, AutoTrader UK maintains a 99.79% release success rate and 99.99% availability for its core search functionality.

The benefits of MongoDB Atlas 

MongoDB Atlas brings together capabilities that are critical to a modern, cloud-native, microservice-aligned database architecture, including:

Developer productivity: MongoDB Atlas is a non-relational database that employs a JSON-based document data model. MongoDB documents map naturally to an object-oriented programming model, which makes it intuitive and easy to work with using any object-oriented language. This flattens the learning curve when a dev team builds applications with MongoDB Atlas. Many developers find MongoDB especially flexible as fields can vary from document to document and data structure can be easily changed over time.

Scalability: MongoDB Atlas allows IT to deploy right-sized applications as a matter of course; it scales up or down instantly and on demand, without risking application downtime. By relying on sharding, MongoDB Atlas avoids issues with hardware bottlenecks while also minimizing the complexity that often crops up at scale. MongoDB Atlas users can also select from a number of sharding strategies based on the workloads and query patterns they need to serve.

Availability and uptime: Running an application in the public cloud usually offers better availability from the get-go compared to an on-premises environment. This is because of the massive investments providers such as Google Cloud make to replicate their infrastructure across multiple geographical regions, and to gain other capabilities that very few businesses have the resources to duplicate.

Building on these capabilities, MongoDB Atlas deploys every database cluster as a self-healing replica set that fails over automatically when necessary. MongoDB Atlas will automatically provision replica set members across multiple availability zones within a region—a critical safeguard against the most common, localized failures that create the greatest risk for most businesses. And when a MongoDB Atlas instance fails, the system recovers instantly and automatically in most cases.

Automation: "Keeping the lights on" is a massive source of waste and frustration when teams deal with legacy database systems. MongoDB Atlas automates key tasks during provisioning and configuration, maintenance, and disaster recovery processes so teams don’t waste time on mundane maintenance and upkeep. It also employs automated monitoring and alerting to help teams detect and troubleshoot performance issues before they affect your applications or user experience.

A modern database designed to adapt

By integrating within a modern, cloud-native app environment, MongoDB Atlas gives developers the freedom to architect and re-architect applications as an organization's business needs change—without the risk of outgrowing a legacy database solution or of enduring a forced product upgrade to accommodate growth. Leaving behind a legacy database and moving to MongoDB Atlas can be a big step towards achieving this goal.

Learn more about MongoDB Atlas on Google Cloud.
Watch Vadim Supitskiy, Forbes’ CTO chat with Lena Smart, MongoDB CISO about how Forbes set digital innovation standards with MongoDB and Google Cloud.

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