redhat dropping mdb over sspl

Well this is an interesting wrinkle.…

In my post about mdb I mentioned the open source community is pretty split about some of these more restrictive licenses. Redhat bundles mdb but now has removed it. The article above explains it in more detail.

Poor mdb is getting hit on all sides on this one.



Thanks for posting that. Honestly I was worried if the change in licensing was going to impact them. Certainly looks like that could be the case. Need to keep a watchful eye on this.

You beat me by six minutes to it. I don’t know who else can actually really substitute for Mongo and what it brings. Will be interesting to hear who they think can enable a database like Mongo can. The market did react negatively to it, but only less than a percent or so unless the entire day has been a 4-5% decline due to knowing this news was coming. Certainly not good news.

The issue is, if not Mongo then who? Can’t turn to SQL, Postgres, Cassandra, CosmosDB, DocumentDB. None of them actually do what Mongo does. So where do you turn if you refuse to use Mongo because Mongo is trying to protect its franchise? Your needs in a database won’t change so you still need a database that can do what Mongo can do. Do you instead go with a non-open source cloud titan who usurped the product to begin with who are largely offering inferior product?



Am I correct to assume that Redhat wasn’t paying MDB in the past anyway? Why else would they drop MongoDB due to the new licensing except to avoid having to start paying them now?

If they were previously a paying customer, I wouldn’t think they would care about the licensing change since that change was intended to force companies that weren’t paying licensing fees to start paying up.

Assuming Redhat wasn’t paying previously, then wouldn’t Redhat be precisely the type of situation that MDB wanted to force their hand to either a) start paying or b) stop profiting off their stuff for free, when they changed the open source terms?

So is this really a bad thing? Of course I’d prefer Redhat keep using MDB and start paying them, but at the end of the day we’re not talking about any lost revenue, or are we?



You know, I do not think there is a true substitute for Mongo in regard to a general purpose NoSQL database to serve use cases that SQL databases cannot adequately handle (meaning, even if it can handle it, it still makes it painful to use an SQL to do so).

For niche applications, and for more mundane applications there are many alternatives. But there is no substitute for, as Mongo states, “modern general purpose database.”

Whether that makes Mongo a place to be investment wise now…maybe not, maybe so, but you can see the buy out value with Mongo. In my mind at the moment, given the current FUD surrounding Mongo, an AYX like reaction when TAbleau announced their “competing” data product towards mongo stock may become an opportunity. But Mongo is down around 20% over the last few days but I would not call it at a FUD related valuation yet.

My opinion anyways in regard to Mongo on the current news being digested.



The issue is, if not Mongo then who?

The issue is, who pays Mongo’s bills, RedHat or customers?

African saying comes to mind, “When elephants fight the grass gets trampled.”

I had an open order for MDB at 74.50 which executed. Now I’m not sure if I’m happy about it. :frowning:

Denny Schlesinger

Here is where Mongo loses out if Red Hat drops them, in their Open Shift produce. This is Red Hat’s Kubernetes management software and Mongo was the default choice of database. It no longer will be the default choice it seems (although more detailed analysis required to see if Red Hat will eliminate Mongo from all it products).

Red Hat does not pay Mongo for this. The conjecture is that Red Hat’s customers may make commercial use of Mongo since it is the default database. No Red Hat, no being default offering on Openshift and its Kubernetes management software.

Worth digging into more. There is not great after hours sell off. Does seem like multiple pieces of FUD working on Mongo stock however. From Amazon to the open source licensing issue creating blow back.



I was on my phone before so I didn’t have time to type all this out

Many open source projects will only include open source software. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has said that the SSPL that MDB uses is not open source so now all the linux distributions that only include open source are dropping MongoDB as part of the default install. Debian which is one of the major projects out there and the underpinning of many other linux distributions already dropped MongoDB a few months back.

Honestly though i don’t see this as being a major issue. Customers can still easily install MongoDB and I think MDB is at the point now that it has enough mind share that if someone wants to use a document database they are going to think of MDB. If this had happened 5 years ago then I think we could have seen the demise of MDB. Mongo still has many partners that help it amplify its reach. Redhat leaving is a shame, but I don’t see this is a major issue. Time will tell.


I think this is ‘no-news’.

If you’re developing an application, you do not care what comes bundled with an operating system.
If you need MongoDB, you’ll install it, and installing it takes about 30 seconds.

The bundled versions are almost certainly out-of-date in any case. It’s also (IMO) very unlikely that a new (or existing development would rely on an OS-bundled version. Most of the time I have no idea what is bundled or not, and I don’t care.

It’s also fairly likely you’re developing on a different OS than your production deployment, or at least a different version.

I’m also not sure this impacts OpenShift. You’d have Mongo running in a container so I’m not quite sure what the ‘default database’ Tinker was referring to means. The link Tinker posted refers to an app that allows management of MongoDB containers inside a Kubernetes cluster (that made zero sense I’m sure!). But Tinker would have more information here.

The questions with all of these ‘developments’ is:

  1. Will it mean less users of Mongo? → very (very) unlikely.
  2. Will it mean less enterprise users of Mongo? [ie, paying customers] → No.
  3. Will there be an impact on Atlas? [ie, other paying customers] → No.

In this case, I think it unlikely in all cases.

My 2c


FUD to the max.

Red Hat made this change back in their November release. We haven’t heard about it until now. Because nobody cares.

Red Hat decided it would no longer include MongoDB in the latest version of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

The change apparently went unnoticed until a Hacker News thread took off earlier today, but it was included in the release notes for RHEL 8.0, which was released in beta last November.

More here…



Thanks for sharing to all those with background and knowledge about this news as to whether (in your opinions) it will or will not affect MDB…very helpful to those of us not in the IT/database world.

Makes me think this most recent 20% pullback might indeed be an opportunity. Also makes me grateful for this board and it’s participants! :+1:


We sometimes take things for granted, like we think MongoDB is the winner in the market because of networking effect or whatever. And that has become an outcome for MongoDB, but with the recent FUD news it brings up the precise question, is there a real substitute for MongoDB?

The answer is clearly no. Sure, sure, there are other databases that can do this, that, or the other thing, but nothing that is truly a general purpose database that can replace MongoDB.

Interesting…just assumed that the market could just switch to someone else, but that is not really the case, now is it?

If anyone knows a true substitute for MongoDB that is a general purpose database let us know.

The best are probably CosmosDB and the new AWS DocumentDB. CosmosDB has many short falls not even related to being on 3.4 APIs. DocumentDB probably has similar issues beyond just being left back with about 1/3 the functions of 3.6 API.

Plus neither of these databases are agnostic. They create vendor lock-in. One of the elements that gives MongoDB a competitive advantage - at least for those (which are most of the best paying customers anyways) who do not want to be locked into a cloud.

Anyways, I cannot think of another database that can truly replace MongoDB. Let me know if you can.

Part of piercing through the FUD is understanding things like this that rule of thumb analysis clearly will not understand and thus not take into account.



Postgres is probably the biggest contender but we are out of my depth at this point. I’m guessing the database folk can weigh in here.

My understanding is the two have converged somewhat in features where a couple of years ago they were pretty far apart on the sql vs nosql scale.……

Appears to me that postgres recognized the mongo was doing a lot of things right and mongo realized that postgres allowed some required features and they are working toward a similar feature set albeit from opposite sides.

I don’t think postgres has solved the horizontal scaling issues though, but again, someone else that knows about this stuff should go into that.



Yes, Postgres is a good enhancement to the usual SQL but for example it could not run Fortnite, or solve the Met Life 360 degree customer issue.

Looking at database popularity, in the last year or it was probably two Postgres moved ahead of MongoDB to the #4 spot. However, since then Mongo has been slowly catching up to Postgres and of course both Postgres and Mongo pulling away from #5 and the rest below (with the exception of Elastic that rocketed up the list - but Elastic is not a substitute for either Postgres or MongoDB and neither is Postgres or Mongo a substitute for Elastic).

Yeah, I think we are looking at a pretty unique and valuable product with Mongo that has a multiple year advantage over everyone else as well.

But I will stop talking and let others pipe in as I am interested to hear what others have to add in regard to this true substitute question.


Postgres is really a different use case. As I understand, it is fundamentally a relational database which happens to have a JSON datatype which allows retrieval by the JSON elements. This is terrific if one has a hybrid application in which there is a bunch of relational data and one or more JSON documents. But, as a general purpose document database, it is far from what is offered by Mongo. There are other relational databases with JSON datatypes with various levels of support, but again, far, far more suited to the hybrid use case than a real document application.


The change apparently went unnoticed until a Hacker News thread took off earlier today, but it was included in the release notes for RHEL 8.0, which was released in beta last November.

The coming ER is going to be a test of fire for MDB. To what degree there has been an impact already and to what degree they are seeing signs of an impact that can affect their guidance.

Tempted to top up but maybe safer to wait until after the ER.



MongoDB has benefited from opensource because it has greatly contributed to their R&D and innovation efforts. This is the benefit of opensource. They managed to position themselves as the leading NoSQL DB, owned the mindshare, and it snowballed from there - more users, more code… making them far and away the leader.

It’s like UBNT not requiring any tech-support, or TSLA not requiring any marketing. Saves them a lot of money. Open-source for MDB not only saved them a lot of money, but increased the rate of innovation. Doublewin.

This is at least a non-event for now. As has been stated numerous times:

  1. MDB is the best. You want the best, you use MDB
  2. MDB has mindshare. You want to hire a database architect/developer? Get ready to receive a lot of CVs with MDB at the top.

This will not effect their growth this year. You could argue Amazon’s DocumentDB might, but we’ve hashed that one out already. I’ll be expecting 50%+ revenue growth (guidance is 62%) and a continuation of Atlas’ stellar growth. Not sure if we can expect 300% again.

Do we know who RedHat has replaced MDB with?

So how does this effect MongoDB? Well, if the opensource community migrates to another NoSQL database and starts working on that, then maybe in 2,3,4 years, you have a legitimate rival to MDB. But the majority will need to settle on one rival. If they scatter all over the place, well then development will slow.

Clearly MDB won’t be resting either. They’ll still be spending on R&D and moving themselves. They have over 8,000 paying customers who will also be contributing to the code. Maybe MDB is now big enough that none of this matters.


Redhat dropping MDB is a non-event in terms of money and growth for at least the next year or two.
The fear, uncertainty and doubt is over MDB’s CAP. Will the opensource community now focus and develop a rival DB to compete with feature-rich MDB? Maybe, but that will take time.


Tempted to top up but maybe safer to wait until after the ER.

I had an open order to “top up” and it executed but very close the day’s close and after hours did not show any market panic. I’m not all that happy with the trade but not too worried either.

Open source was the death of shrink wrap licensing but now open source itself is under attack, Schumpeter’s creative destruction. I was right not to invest in MDB based on Freemium and downloads but SaaS, Atlas, is safe because there is no licensing.

This might be the trigger for changes in the industry.

Denny Schlesinger

Joseph Schumpeter…


If losing the open source license is a non-issue why is Eliot Horowitz, MongoDB’s CTO making a substantial effort in defending SSPL as Open Source?…

Mongo always owned the code and chose the roadmap, so it never was truly open source. It operated under AGPL but the OSI community seems to have accepted AGPL as Open Source but are questioning SSPL. So, what did Mongo gain from being open source?

  1. Developer’s mind share. Free marketing of their product. 40 M downloads
  2. Product improvements based on developer feedback.

So losing open source could cloud its future prospects due to the 2 points mentioned above. But what about near term revenues? While any effect on rev seems unlikely the only danger is bad PR - that Mongo took advantage of the open source and then decided to shut shop through their restrictive SSPL. This may have some people look for alternatives. The lack of a true alternative has been discussed a lot already. But Guardian went to Postgres from Mongo which maybe a special situation. We have to wait and see.


Hi Tex,

All correct.

If I’m an enterprise and want and need to have the best scalable database with the talent to do it, I go MDB. I pay for it. No qualms.

As a database developer (I’m not), I have the skillset to build a MDB database and use it at work.
However, in my spare hobbyist time, peeved at MDB now suddenly abandoning opensource, I turn my attention to using something else.

This effects the essentially free R&D mongodb has been getting from the opensource community. It doesn’t effect them short-term. It might effect them long-term. That’s the question. Are they now big enough in people’s minds, a big enough lead and good R&D team, that they don’t need to be open source anymore?

I don’t know. Of course I’d rather they be considered open-source. My wallet is making me biased here, but I see nothing wrong with SSPL. I see it as a move to protect the open-source community. Others see it differently and the debate will rage on.

The quote from Redhat’s Tom Callaway states that they believe the SSPL is aggressively discriminatory against a specific class of users. Yes, that is 100% correct. It’s discriminatory against anyone who would take from an open-source community and give nothing back. That’s all it is. You can still use MDB for free if you so wish. Amazon could still do exactly what they’re doing with DocumentDB but for MDB 4.0 and above - they just have to share their code. Keep it opensource.

I think MDB haven’t been specific enough, and that’s why there is angst about the licence. People aren’t sure where they stand. If you use mongo as a backend service, you’re not affected by this. E.g. fortnite or a bank.
If you literally provide MongoDB and sell it to others, then this licence affects you.

This licence allows Mongo and mongo only to sue. They’re not going to go after their users. It’s specifically made to stop people eating their lunch, whilst contributing nothing (Amazon.

I’ll stop rambling on. But yes, it would be good if the opensource community got on board with this change. MongoDB need some good PR. The ball is in their court to sell their case