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New MongoDB Connector Creates Direct Link To Data Visualization Tools

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MongoDB, the open source database platform, announced several updates today at its MongoDB World user conference in New York City, including integration with Tableau and other data visualization tools.

Lots of companies have been building applications using MongoDB because they like its lack of structure and flexibility. It’s one of the key reasons they use MongoDB, but when it comes to data visualization, the lack of structure made it difficult to use traditional data visualization tools, Kelly Stirman, VP of strategy at MongoDB explained.

“The thing that defines these apps as modern is rich data structures that don’t fit neatly into rows and columns of traditional databases,” Stirman said.

To overcome this unintended consequence of the MongoDB design, the company announced a new connector to business intelligence (BI) and data visualization tools, offering its partner Tableau as an example, while making it clear that it works with other tools as well.

“We partnered with Tableau, but have designed the connector to be compatible with other tools like [IBM] Cognos, [SAP] BusinessObjects and Microsoft Excel. The connector is compatible with any SQL-based ODBC based tool — pretty much everything out there,” he said.

“Millions of users have these technologies and are using them every day, but they have not been able to use them with data in MongoDB,” Stirman added. The new connector provides these capabilities in MongoDB.

Up until now, it was actually possible to make MongoDB work with these data visualization tools, but it required a lot of custom coding, which was time-consuming and expensive. “Providing the connector lets [customers] have immediate access to MongoDB data without a layer,” he explained.

This is very much in line with the announcement Salesforce.com made last week, but instead of the database connecting to the visualization tool, it was the reverse. Salesforce created connectors to extract data from external data sources more easily and then visualize that data in Salesforce Wave alongside Salesforce data.

As with MongoDB, it was possible before the release of these tools to make this type of connection. It was just much more difficult and required a lot of coding to make it happen.

Salesforce, like MongoDB recognized that it is up to them as vendors to provide more frictionless ways to make connections between tools. These connectors are an attempt to simplify the task of moving between data sources and visualization tools.

The new connector along with several other updates including encryption at rest capability and a graphical user interface aimed at database administrators (DBAs) and developers will be incorporated into release 3.2, which is expected to be ready sometime in the fourth quarter this year.

MongoDB has attracted a lot of investor attention with a total of $311.1 million in funding, according to CrunchBase. The most recent round, Series G, was for $80 million in January of this year.

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