Friday, May 27, 2016

My Journey with MongoDB

In 2011, I'd been a SQL Server guy (development, DBA and warehousing) for quite some time and I never meant to set out to find a new data store. I was working as a DBA at the time, and we were asked to look into this new data storage technology called Cassandra. At the time you had to build things manually and that was outside of what we did, so we never went anywhere with it.

That quick look however got me looking at other database technologies and and that's when I came across MongoDB. This was around the time that version 1.8 came out. I started looking at MongoDB to see what it was all about. I was still stuck in my relational ways, but thought that there was something to this new tech. I went out and bought Kristina Chodorow's MongoDB: The Definitive Guide and Kyle Banker's MongoDB in Action. After reading through these books and playing around my mind started grasping the concepts and was beginning to break free from the confines of the relational world. I started seeing how denormalizing (storing duplicate data in multiple documents) the data into a single document made sense. You could store all the data that should be together and wouldn't have to pay the overhead of joining tables. The more I worked with MongoDB the more it made sense.

Shortly after this, another team in the company was looking at using MongoDB as a backend data store for a project they were working on. The project was to replicate something similar to Google Analytics that we could put on our client's web sites and custom build tracking for them. Since I wanted to get some practical experience with the technology, I moved over to that team and spent a month building out a prototype of the system. Unfortunately the developer that I was working with on the project had decided to go a different direction and the project was scrapped.

This had given me a taste of what MongoDB could do, and I kept working with MongoDB in a personal capacity for a while. At the end of 2011, MongoDB University released their first two courses and I decided to take M201. I wasn't sure how involved the courses were so I only wanted to take one at a time. After I passed that course, I took M101 (later renamed to M101P) and I passed that course as well. After I completed M101, I reached out to Andrew Erlichson about becoming a TA for the courses. I was brought on and spent the next two years supporting the M101J, M101JS and M201 courses at various times. The education team was a pleasure to work with and I will always be grateful to them for allowing me to spend that length of time with them. I also learned a lot from the students during that time. For my work with the team, they honored me by giving me the first MongoDB DBA certification back in 2013.

After two years of helping out on the education team I made the hard choice to step away from my role as a TA since my available free time shrunk and I felt that I wasn't giving the students (and the other TAs) the time and attention that was required. I however wasn't done with MongoDB by any means.

About four months later, I was contacted to join the MongoDB Advocacy Hub and have been enjoying helping out with promoting MongoDB in various ways. It's been great working the community team members and getting to know them. I'm slowly getting into blogging now with the encouragement from the marketing and community team members at MongoDB. With my work here I have been honored by being chosen as the MongoDB Giant of the Month for January 2016, and most recently was selected to join the MongoDB Masters Program for 2016.

Most recently I have taken over as the Denver/Boulder MongoDB Meet Up Group organizer. This has been a big change for me as I'm more comfortable being behind the scenes, then organizing them and being front and center. It has only been a few months since starting this leg of my journey, but I've met some wonderful people and glad to see the local community coming out and learning from our speakers. If you're ever in the area stop on in.

My journey has taken me along different paths with MongoDB and I'm glad to have traveled them all. I'm not sure where the adventure will take me in the future, but I know that I'll meet great people along the way and will never be alone.

It's interesting looking back, to realize that I came across the product by chance. Had we not taken a look at Cassandra back then, who knows if I would have payed attention to MongoDB. I have stayed with it for five years now because of the value and ease of working with the product, and the great staff and community the company has assembled and built.