MongoDB is a new and popular Database Management System (DBMS) and, according to StackOverflow, it was the 4th most-used in 2021. That accounted for 27.7% of adoption, surpassing other options like MariaDB. That's a h*ll of an achievement if you think about how hard it is to migrate from one DBMS to another! On top of that, MongoDB represents the "M" of the two most popular and in-demand stacks in web development, MERN and MEAN. When MongoDB emerged in 2007, it introduced a new way to manage and interact with data. As you may know, MongoDB is a non-relational DBMS, meaning it doesn't follow all the strict and rigid SQL rules.I'm not saying that it's always best to use MongoDB and that non-relational databases are superior. Yet, it has over 40 million downloads for quite a few reasons. That's what we'll cover in this article.
What is MongoDB Database Management?
Saying that MongoDB is a non-relational DBMS only tells half the story because there are four types of Non-relational databases: Key-Value, Wide-Column, Graph, and Document Databases. Amazon DynamoDB and Redis are examples of Key-Value Databases, ScyllaDB is one of the most known Wide-Column Databases, and Neo4J is a great Graph Database. As you may have guesses, our beloved MongoDB is a Document Database.
MongoDB stores data in JSON-like documents (BSON) instead of the tables the relational database management system use. Likewiese, it organizes these documents in collections that don't require joins. However, you can still build relationships between them. A single document can store any type of data, and having a schema for a document collection is optional, allowing you to add more data structures much more quickly. This new way of handling data is much more flexible and scalable than the old SQL approach.
MongoDB Database Management Elements
Before explaining how MongoDB works, let's take a quick look at the main components of MongoDB. Also, I'll show how they relate to SQL elements. So, if you already know SQL, it'll be easier to understand them.
1. MongoDB Clusters. In the DBMS realm, clustering refers to a group of servers or database instances operating together. In MongoDB, a database cluster is a group of replica sets or shards.
2. MongoDB Collections. MongoDB organizes data in document collections that developers can query and access without a pre-defined schema.
3. MongoDB Databases. A database is a container with document collections that store data in JSON-like (BSON) format.
4. MongoDB Documents. Documents are single units of data stored in collections. As mentioned above, MongoDB can store unstructured data using multiple fields in JSON-like format.
5. MongoDB Embedded Documents. There's a huge misconception that you can't create related data sets in MongoDB. While it's true that MongoDB doesn't support joins, you can build relationships between data with embedded documents. One way to do this is with the $lookup operator.
6. MongoDB Fields. Fields are specific pieces of data in a document (just like a column in SQL). You can use a single field to store several data types, including arrays.
How Does MongoDB Work?
The old and traditional databases approach involves tables that store data. These tables require pre-defined schemas, columns, and rows. You'll likely have to query multiple tables to access a desired record. Not only does that sound inefficient, but it is. In our world, modern Web Apps have tons of unstructured and messy data in most case scenarios. The bright side is that MongoDB allows you to easily store data in the same document as JSON objects!
This way, every time an application needs to access a record, it'll do so much faster because it will be in the same location. Imagine an app that tries to access a user's name, password, address, email, ID, and job position. If you use SQL, that query might involve at least two tables. Yet, MongoDB lets you store all that user data in the same JSON object. Even if the user has multiple emails or addresses, you can use an array to store as many values as you wish. Compare having an assembled Lego castle ready to go and having to collect all the individual Lego bricks separately. That's why MongoDB's approach is so fast.
Let's get back to collections. Here's the coolest part. Collections work as independent units or entities that don't depend on other collections. This way, developers can optimize and scale them separately. They even have their own space in memory. That means developers can scale databases horizontally using sharding. In simple terms, sharding distributes data across multiple machines. This way, you can smoothly work with humongous amounts of data. That's where the name MongoDB comes from.
How to Get Started with MongoDB Database Management?
MongoDB's ecosystem has a variety of database tools you can access. Let's take a look at them.
● MongoDB Atlas. Atlas uses a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach bringing together the power of cloud and data services. It includes multi-cloud support, security, scalability, compliance, integration, and automation. Plus, it allows you to deploy applications using Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.
● MongoDB Community Server. You can also quickly install MongoDB on your hardware. This Community Server is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
● MongoDB Compass. Believe it or not, MongoDB has its own Graphical User Interface (GUI) for web and desktop applications. MongoDB Compass provides a beautiful, free GUI that allows you to analyze and optimize your data.
● MongoDB Realm. MongoDB also provides robust database support for mobile development with Realm. Think of it as a firebase-like platform with fully managed back-end services, including triggers. Plus, Realm makes it easy to sync data from web and mobile applications in real-time.
Pros and Cons of MongoDB Database Management
Why is Mongo Important in Database Management?
Dwight Merriman, Eliot Horowitz, and Kevin Ryan created MongoDB to address modern applications' needs. Social Media and eCommerce platforms generate massive amounts of unstructured data daily, not to mention the Internet of Things and healthcare apps. Think about the requirements of such complex apps: customized orders, product catalogs, pricing, posts, user profiles, promotions, analytics, secure structures, real-time performance, etc.
They designed MongoDB to handle all those factors simply and cost-effectively. From a UX designer perspective, users demand real-time access, high availability, data variety, and scalability are much easier and cheaper to accomplish with MongoDB's power. From a developer's perspective, it streamlines and smooths the Product Development Lifecycle to a large extent.
MongoDB is a source-available cross-platform document-oriented database program that you can use to build any app. It wouldn't be fair to say that MongoDB is better than SQL in every scenario. Yet, the solutions and products it offers fully align with modern applications. Our stellar team of software developers has used MongoDB to build cutting-edge and successful applications for our clients on many occasions. We can fully vouch for its capabilities.