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I really don't get this as an indictment of MongoDB, or their OpsManager product really.

They used the version of OpsManager that doesn't manage the deployment - is specifically not a deployment manager. Mongo does offer a managed version of this software, which the author mentions - with a justification for why they couldn't use that offering. However, I think this was the main mistake that The Guardian made. As the author notes: "Database management is important and hard – and we’d rather not be doing it ourselves." They underestimated the complexity of managing database infrastructure. If they had been attempting to set up and manage a large scale redundant PostgreSQL system, they would have spent an enormous engineering effort to do so as well. Using a fully managed solution - like PostgreSQL on RDS from the beginning would have saved them time. Comparing such a fully managed solution to an unmanaged one is an inappropriate comparison.

Full disclosure - I used to work at MongoDB. I have my biases and feelings w.r.t the product & company. In this case I felt that this article didn't actually represent the problem or it's source very accurately.




Fair criticisms! It's true if we'd used Mongo Atlas or something similar it would likely have been a different story - often the MongoDB support spent half the time on the phone trying to work out what version of mongo, opsmanager etc. we were running.

Re criticism of OpsManager - I think this is fair, given the sheer number of hoops we had to jump through to get a functioning OpsManager system running in AWS - no provided cloudformation, AMIs etc. £40,000 a year felt like a lot for a system that took 2 or more weeks of dev time to install/upgrade. The authentication schema thing was a bit of a pain as well, though we were going from a very nearly EOL version of Mongo (2.4 I think).


> often the MongoDB support spent half the time on the phone trying to work out what version of mongo, opsmanager etc. we were running.

That sounds awful. Reading these stories I'm happy I work with small companies without such a huge infrastructure.


Support at this scale is a hard game. I know some of the guys who work over there, and they make a valiant effort.

Training is exceptionally hard. Databases are hard to manage, and it takes years to learn to diagnose their function on unknown hardware / software.

This all being said, "no provided cloudformation, AMIs etc." is no bueno - not a good experience for the user.

If you haven't used Mongo with WiredTiger, you really haven't used it at it's best.


I do like the article but it sounds like they’re in over their heads, this whole (very risky) project could have been avoided if they just brought in someone that knew what they were doing.

> Clocks are important – don’t lock down your VPC so much that NTP stops working.

> Automatically generating database indexes on application startup is probably a bad idea.

> Database management is important and hard – and we’d rather not be doing it ourselves.

This is true of any database infrastructure with redundancy/scalability requirements.

What they did was take a technical problem and solve it by buying an off the shelf solution. Which is fine, of course, but I’m a bit surprised by the reaction here on HN.


The pricing of hosted MongoDB solutions is high especially as volumes increase. The last I checked, disk space doesn't free up when you drop documents or collections and that adds to hosted cost unless you find time to fix the issue through manual intervention. This costing is moving us away from MongoDB in the future.


MongoDB will reuse free space when documents or collections are deleted (even though the storageSize stat will remain the same). You can compact the database to release free space to the OS. You can read more about how MongoDB's WiredTiger storage engine reclaims space here: https://docs.mongodb.com/manual/faq/storage/#how-do-i-reclai...

I work for MongoDB so if you have any questions about storage, feel free to reach out.




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