10gen and IBM recently announced they are collaborating on an open standard that will enable mobile and Web application developers to access data held in both 10gen’s MongoDB NoSQL database as well as in IBM’s DB2 relational database.

The open standard will be built upon MongoDB’s BSON (Binary JSON) protocol. While the two companies are collaborating on the technology, they encourage others in the open-source community to adopt the standard going forward. “Rather than just seeing this as 10gen and IBM collaborating on MongoDB, what we’re actually envisioning is building from that a vibrant community that includes companies beyond just us,” said Matt Asay, VP of business development and corporate strategy at 10gen. “So it becomes more than just about the technology. It’s about the community that we’re fostering around MongoDB.”

Angel Luis Diaz, VP of software standards, open source and cloud labs at IBM, said the MongoDB-DB2 work is but the first of IBM’s offerings to support what he called the company’s “mobile-first approach” to application development, and he said that more such efforts will come out in the future.

Diaz said mobile developers today have more and more pressure on them to deliver applications with enterprise-class security and access to data. “ ‘Concept count’ is an industry term describing how there are many things developers need to know in order to get applications up and running quickly,” he said.

“When you look at actually connecting the application you’re building to the database, the concept count is pretty high; there are lots of different protocols and lots of different ways of doing it. What we found really interesting is that, in the open-source community, a lot of the ecosystem has been gravitating toward the MongoDB Wire Protocol, which is the way of describing how you access that data.

“What we’re announcing is the collaboration on really two fronts. One is trying to get some standardization around how you access the database. You can now access a NoSQL MongoDB database the same way that you’d access an IBM DB2 relational database, so developers have one way of getting at information that sits within their enterprise in a relational database or within a NoSQL database. And that is great for the ecosystem because it reduces the concept count.

“Secondly, we’re working with 10gen and the Mongo community to look at how we can bring other folks together to collaborate on this protocol and collaborate on the Mongo database community itself,” he continued. “Open-source communities are meritocracies; you don’t force your way in, but rather you bring folks together. That’s what we’re looking to do here. We hope to galvanize the industry around this.”

When asked if there are certain kinds of applications that work better using a NoSQL database or a relational database, 10gen’s Asay replied that it’s more about the type of query you’re doing as opposed to how you want your information structured. “It’s not so much industry-split, it’s more computer science/technical-split,” he said.

“And it’s not just databases; it could be in-memory caches or data grids. For example, we also have support for our WebSphere eXtreme Scale product, which is a data-grid product for high-volume, high-caching data. So the real advantage, again going back to ‘concept count,’ is it’s making it easier for folks to get access to the information they need when building their app.”

Diaz said that developers who are using IBM Worklight Studio today can access the free, open-source version of MongoDB without having to pay extra for the integration; they’ll be able to get MongoDB access in a Worklight Studio product update, he said.

In order to access the subscription version of MongoDB, current users of IBM’s DB2 will not incur an extra charge for the integration between the products either, Asay said. They would simply need to pay for any licensed software they use.

About Suzanne Kattau