Not so long ago I went to MongoDB Boulder, a one-day conference put on by 10gen, the company behind MongoDB. Aside from one panel I didn’t get much out of, it was great. While I do have some experience using MongoDB, I not yet an expert with it (and I certainly have some team members here at Coshx Labs that know it better than I do), so I was looking forward to a chance to improve my skills.

The tech talks I went to were quite ideal for someone with my relative level of experience and I got a lot out of it. What I want to share with the internet at large, however, is more my surprise at who was attending the conference rather than what was said.

I was expecting the majority of the attendees to be developers or devops from smaller companies, startups, consulting companies, and the like. Those are the sorts of people I primarily think of when I imagine MongoDB users. I was wrong though. Very, very wrong - and I’m happy I was.

While there were people from the companies I just described, the majority of the attendees were from much larger companies, and there were several from places that have many thousands of employees. (I want to name some of them, but I know that many companies don’t like having their tech stack discussed, so in the interest of kindness I’ll refrain from naming specifics.) A higher-up at 10gen also discussed how MongoDB is starting to be used in government work as well, and he had a meeting coming up with a representative from the UK. That’s far, far from what I would have imagined.

During the happy hour following the conference, I spoke with many attendees about what brought them there. Why MongoDB? Are you here out of curiosity or do you actually use MongoDB at the office? Some were there because they were considering MongoDB, some were already using it. The vast majority of them were there because the office wanted them to go, to at least get more information about whether MongoDB would be a good fit for them or not. Those who hadn’t decided to use it or not yet were evaluating it against several of the other NoSQL databases you’ve probably heard of: Riak, CouchDB, Cassandra, HBase, and so on.

It’s great to see so many highly-visible open source projects make their way into “The Enterprise.” And to small companies as well of course - but smaller companies have been leaning heavily on tech like this to give them an edge in a fiercely competitive marketplace. Is MongoDB the right choice for them? It very well might be (if you haven’t used MongoDB in a while, take a look at it again, it has had a lot of very impressive growth in the last year).

And if it’s not, there’s no shortage of other open-source data stores available for them to consider. NoSQL isn’t always the right tool for the job, but it’s often worth a look, and I’m really excited to see the adoption of it expand in enterprises large and small.