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Running MongoDB on AWS: A Practical Guide

MongoDB is a source-available document-oriented database program. MongoDB is a a NoSQL database solution that uses JSON-like documents with optional schemas. Many organizations are opting to run MongoDB in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud to gain improved scalability and reliability for their MongoDB deployment.

AWS offers a range of services that can be integrated with MongoDB, including computing power and multiple storage options. Running MongoDB on AWS can be done in a few different ways: 

  • You can manually install and manage MongoDB on an AWS instance.
  • You can use MongoDB Atlas, a fully-managed database-as-a-service from the makers of MongoDB, that automatically takes care of your database operations.

In this article, we will cover the benefits of running MongoDB on AWS and show how to get started with MongoDB Atlas on AWS.

Benefits of Running MongoDB on AWS

Infrastructure Flexibility

With MongoDB on AWS, you can choose the instance that best fits your workload. For example, if you need more computing power, you can select a compute-optimized instance. If your workload requires more memory, you can opt for a memory-optimized instance. This flexibility extends to storage as well, with AWS offering both SSD and HDD storage options for your MongoDB database.

Scalability

Whether you’re dealing with a small application or a large enterprise-level operation, AWS allows you to quickly scale up or down to handle changes in requirements or spikes in popularity. AWS’s auto-scaling feature, combined with MongoDB’s sharding capabilities, provides you with a database solution that can grow with your business.

Integrated Security

Running MongoDB on AWS also offers robust security measures. AWS provides various security features, such as AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), which allows you to set user permissions and policies. This means that you can have granular control over who can access your MongoDB databases and what actions they can perform.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Finally, the combination of MongoDB and AWS provides robust options for backup and disaster recovery. AWS offers Amazon S3 for object storage, which is known for its durability and is well-suited to NoSQL workloads. You can also use AWS Snapshots to create backups of your MongoDB databases. In the event of a disaster, you can quickly launch more resources in AWS to ensure business continuity.

What is MongoDB Atlas?

MongoDB Atlas is a cloud-based, fully managed database service offered by MongoDB Inc. It provides an integrated suite of advanced features such as automated backups, monitoring, scaling, and security to run MongoDB in the cloud. 

MongoDB Atlas handles the operational aspects of running MongoDB, eliminating the need for manual interventions. Some primary characteristics of MongoDB Atlas include:

  • Managed Service: MongoDB Atlas offloads the tasks of installation, configuration, maintenance, and scaling from the user, making it a go-to option for those who want to focus more on database operations and less on administration.
  • Platform-Agnostic: While MongoDB Atlas operates seamlessly on AWS, it is also available on other cloud platforms, including Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. Users can choose their preferred cloud provider and region.
  • Security: MongoDB Atlas comes with built-in security measures, including end-to-end encryption, VPC peering, and enterprise-grade authentication mechanisms.
  • Automated Backups: Atlas provides continuous backups with point-in-time recovery. This means you can restore your data to any second in the past without significant downtime.
  • Performance Insights: MongoDB Atlas offers real-time monitoring and alerts. Users can gain insights into queries, resource utilization, and other metrics directly from the Atlas dashboard.

Migrating MongoDB to Atlas on AWS

Here are the high-level steps involved in migrating a self-hosted MongoDB database to MongoDB Atlas on AWS Cloud. For more details, see Amazon’s prescriptive guidance.

Step One: Discovery and Assessment

The first phase involves understanding your current MongoDB setup and preparing for the migration. Begin by evaluating your existing MongoDB environment, including the database size, configuration, and performance metrics. This assessment will help you determine the right size and configuration for your MongoDB Atlas cluster on AWS. It’s also crucial to analyze your application’s dependencies on the database to understand how the migration will impact your application.

During this phase, you should also identify any potential challenges or limitations that might arise during migration. These could include compatibility issues, data integrity concerns, or performance implications. By addressing these issues upfront, you can mitigate risks and plan for a smoother migration.

Step Two: Configure Security and Compliance

Security and compliance are paramount in any migration process. Start by configuring the network settings in MongoDB Atlas to ensure secure connectivity. This typically involves setting up VPC peering or AWS Direct Connect between your AWS environment and MongoDB Atlas.

Next, focus on configuring the security features in MongoDB Atlas. These include setting up encryption at rest and in transit, identity and access management, and auditing and monitoring features. Ensure that these settings align with your organization’s security policies and compliance requirements.

It’s also vital to understand the shared responsibility model in AWS and MongoDB Atlas. While MongoDB Atlas manages the security of the cloud, you are responsible for security in the cloud, which includes securing your data and controlling access.

Step Three: Migrate Data

With the preparations complete, you can start migrating your data to MongoDB Atlas. MongoDB Atlas offers a live migration service, which allows you to migrate your data with minimal downtime. To use this service, you will need to provide details about your source MongoDB environment and initiate the migration through the MongoDB Atlas interface.

Monitor the migration process closely to ensure that the data is transferred accurately and efficiently. It’s advisable to perform validation checks during and after the migration to ensure data integrity. Also, be prepared to address any issues that arise during this phase promptly.

Step Four: Configure Operational Integration

Once your data is migrated, the next step is to integrate MongoDB Atlas into your operational processes. This involves updating your application configuration to point to the new MongoDB Atlas cluster. You will need to update your application’s database connection strings and test the application thoroughly to ensure it is interacting correctly with MongoDB Atlas.

Additionally, configure monitoring and alerting in MongoDB Atlas to keep track of your database’s performance and health. MongoDB Atlas provides various tools and metrics that can help you monitor your database effectively.

Finally, consider implementing any necessary changes to your backup and recovery procedures. MongoDB Atlas offers automated backup solutions, but you should align these with your data protection policies and test your backup and recovery process to ensure it meets your requirements.

Conclusion

In conclusion, running MongoDB on AWS offers a combination of flexibility, scalability, security and robust backup and disaster recovery options. By leveraging AWS’s diverse infrastructure, you can tailor your MongoDB environment to meet specific workload demands, be it compute, memory, or storage-centric requirements. 

The migration process to MongoDB Atlas on AWS involves discovery and assessment, configuring security and compliance, data migration and operational integration. By following this process, organizations can effectively migrate and optimize their MongoDB deployments in the AWS Cloud, reaping the benefits of a fully managed, scalable and secure database environment.

Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.

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