Guest post by Kayleigh Alexandra from Micro Startups.
So you’re planning a MongoDB database for your business (or you already have one) and you’re hunting for hosting. What are you looking for, exactly? How will you know when you’ve found the right host? Choose poorly and you’ll sabotage your future efforts in a big way, but choose smartly and you’ll have a supportive partner to help you grow.
Well, have no fear — in this piece, we’re going to review what makes MongoDB different, explain what makes hosting so important, cover the specific MongoDB hosting elements you need to investigate, and give you a clear indication of how to proceed. Let’s get started.
What makes MongoDB different?
There are many different viable approaches to data storage and management in the business world, but the most common option for holding and sorting data is some form of relational database. A relational database links fields together by primary and secondary keys, avoiding redundancies and maintaining a rigid structure — something that works well in many cases, but certainly not all of them.
MongoDB, however, is a non-relational database. Through storing data in flexible files associated with objects (instead of tables or fields), it’s massively stronger for scalability and adaptability, which makes it perfect for businesses that require customizable data handling (as opposed to the passive rigid backup of a relational database). It also allows for easier data segmentation, where a whole series of relational database tables can often unravel following the deletion of just one field.
Why is hosting so important for a MongoDB database?
Since interactions with relational databases are typically fairly basic, minimal operational demands are placed on the hosts. Not so with something like MongoDB. Particularly if you’re storing data for a live application (or just software in development), you need a hosting service that can help you take maximum advantage of the available options.
If you make a poor choice in your quest for MongoDB hosting, you’ll have to make do with minimal feature accessibility at best — and if the host in question doesn’t really understand how to best handle a non-relational database, they could significantly compromise the integrity and security of your data through sheer ignorance.
If you choose well, you’ll have a supportive partner ready to guide you through the process of building, maintaining and expanding your MongoDB database. Given the innate flexibility of MongoDB, you’ll likely want to pursue that kind of expansion as your business matures.
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What to look for in a MongoDB host
The most important thing to look for in a MongoDB host is a specific focus on MongoDB in particular. You may come across hosting providers who profess to support any platform you care to mention, and plenty such providers can follow through, but not optimally. If you have a high-end car in need of repairs, you don’t go to a generic mechanic — you go to an expert in that brand and benefit from their niche understanding.
Beyond that, you should concentrate on answering the following questions:
How good is the performance?
When thinking about performance, look very carefully at consistency, because that’s ultimately what matters. Speed you can’t rely on to be there when you need it is of relatively little value. Seek assurances about factors such as uptime and upload/download rates.
What kind of support is on offer?
Unless you wrote the book on MongoDB, there are going to be gaps in your knowledge, and then there’s the prospect of someone else in your company needing assistance with database work. When there’s a MongoDB question to be answered, or there’s an issue with the hosting that needs to be resolved, there needs to be a solid support system in place to rapidly address your query.
What are the backup options?
Every hosting company has a different backup procedure with unique financial and organizational demands, and some companies charge extra for each backup or won’t allow custom scheduling. You can always backup data manually (quite easy when you pull data out to sync it with an exclusively-hosted ecommerce system through a tool like Zapier or Stitch), but you shouldn’t have to.
How is access handled?
Security is always a major concern for any important database, and while a MongoDB database is inherently less susceptible to cascading alterations, it will also allow more in-depth tweaking. Your hosting company needs to be able to maintain excellent security levels.
What are the reporting features?
There’s a good chance that you’ll want to keep a close eye on the structure and activity of your MongoDB database over time, because it’s tough to make improvements if you don’t know which elements are working smoothly and which are causing issues. The provision of comprehensive reports from the host can save you a lot of time.
Depending on the scale you’re aiming to work at, you may also want to confirm that you can communicate effectively with the hosting company on a personal level. Sometimes a hosting company can seem good on paper, but prove very awkward in practice as a result of a lack of professionalism and/or communication skills.
The advantages of ScaleGrid
Given the context, you’d of course expect me to bring up ScaleGrid, and of course I’m doing just that — but I won’t give you an extended marketing spiel, because the information is all there for you to review at your leisure. Take a look at this comparison between ScaleGrid and other MongoDB hosting providers and draw your own conclusions about what’s best for you.
I will, however, highlight a couple of notable things you should consider:
ScaleGrid offers unrivaled customization.
Taking a fundamentally modular approach to database hosting, ScaleGrid provides outstanding plug-and-play functionality — through the ScaleGrid console, you can manage multiple databases connected to the cloud storage solutions of your choice.
You can host MongoDB in your own cloud account.
Unlike all other Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) providers, ScaleGrid allows you to manage your hosted MongoDB clusters in your own AWS or Azure cloud account. Why is this important? Because it allows you to leverage Reserved Instances to save up to 80% on your long-term hosting costs, and access advanced security capabilities like Virtual Private Clouds and Security Groups for next-level access control.
You’re able to keep full control over your MongoDB clusters.
One of the most important considerations when choosing a MongoDB hosting provider is the level of control you’re able to retain over your clusters. ScaleGrid is, again, the only DBaaS that lets you keep full MongoDB admin access, along with full SSH root access to your machines.
You’ve every reason to give ScaleGrid a try.
Not only is there a great financial incentive to switch to ScaleGrid from another MongoDB host if you have one, but there’s also a 30-day trial if you’re just starting out with MongoDB and want to sample a solution without committing.
If you find that another hosting solution is better for your particular needs, then by all means go for it. ScaleGrid likely isn’t going to be the right choice for every situation, after all. Just make sure that you take your time to consider the best way to proceed, and do plenty of research.
Making a smart decision
For all the reasons we’ve covered, hosting is very important in general, and incredibly important for supporting a MongoDB database. It’s not a decision to take lightly. You might feel that you’ll save time and effort by simply going for the first hosting solution you see, but that short-term saving would likely cost you dearly in the future. You’re making an investment in your business prospects — the time you put into choosing the best host today will pay off hugely.
Kayleigh Alexandra is the startup-obsessed content writer for Micro Startups, a site with an unrelenting focus on extolling the virtues of the entrepreneurial spirit. Head to the MS blog for the latest news in the world of small business, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.