There's a 30-year-old relational database up on blocks at Carfax's Columbia, Mo., office. On Tuesday, the Web service, which supplies used-vehicle history reports to millions of consumers and 30,000 dealerships every year, announced plans to retire its VMS-based RDBMS and switch to MongoDB, the open source, document-oriented database developed and supported by 10gen.
When it takes over the driver's seat, the MongoDB will run across 50 servers. Lenz declined to name the hardware vendor. But 10gen CEO Max Schireson told InformationWeek on the phone: "Using inexpensive commodity servers means they can scale out," Schireson said.
While an open source product, 10gen claims some 500 customers worldwide who pay for its consulting and services. This customer list includes marquee Web brands like eBay and Craigslist, but traditional businesses as well, including three of the top 10 global banks and telcos, among others.
Another advantage of using MongoDB is its built-in redundancy. If a node fails, work is picked up by one or more secondary nodes.
In fact, Carfax already uses a seven-node VMS system. However, Lenz shared that in early performance testing, MongoDB ran transactions up to four times faster. But speed and cost savings weren't the only reasons Carfax decided to migrate to a noSQL architecture.
Unlike their relational predecessors, noSQL databases like MongoDB, Cassandra and Riak use a flexible, schema-less design that is especially well suited for massive amounts of variable data.
"Mongo does [transaction processing] with the added benefit of analytics and data mining," he said. "The sky's the limit... we're just scratching the surface."