Managed and Self-Managed MongoDB Hosting - Which to choose and why?

Published on November 7, 2023

Technical Writer

Managed and Self-Managed MongoDB Hosting - Which to choose and why?

MongoDB stands out among the many database management software of today’s day and age due to its flexibility and scalability. But when it comes to hosting MongoDB, many face a crucial decision: should they opt for managed services or take the responsibility of self-managing their MongoDB development?

In this article, we will dissect both these options and conclude which offering suits your requirements the best.

Managed vs. Self-Managed MongoDB Hosting

Managed MongoDB hosting is a Database as a Service (DBaaS) model that simplifies database management. Its biggest advantage is easy scaling. As your application data grows, you must add more resources, such as CPU and memory, to your MongoDB cluster. Choosing the right hosting options allows you to handle increased workloads efficiently.

On the other hand, self-managed MongoDB hosting provides complete control over your MongoDB deployment. You can manually set up and configure MongoDB on your servers, offering fine-grained control over every aspect of the database.

However, this control comes at the cost of complexity. You’re also responsible for server provisioning, replication setup, sharding, and ongoing maintenance tasks.

Managed vs Self-Managed MongoDB service

Below is a detailed comparison of both these hosting options on DigitalOcean and their pros and cons.

Managed MongoDB on DigitalOcean

Easy Scaling

A Managed MongoDB service on DigitalOcean monitors your cluster’s performance and allows you to scale resources to meet demand. This ensures that traffic spikes are handled seamlessly without any data blockage.

Ease of Use

Provisioning a managed MongoDB instance on DigitalOcean is straightforward. You can create a cluster, define your data structure, and use the database with a few clicks. This ease of use minimizes the learning curve for developers and administrators.

Automated Backups and Maintenance

Data integrity is paramount for any database. Regular backups ensure data is recoverable in case of any downtime. By opting for managed MongoDB, you free your team from the burden of manual backup scheduling and maintenance, allowing them more time to focus on developing features and improving application performance.

Data Migration

Migrating data to DigitalOcean’s Managed MongoDB is straightforward. Because backup is free and always available, you can use tools like mongodump and mongorestore to transfer your data with minimal downtime.

Data Security

Data within a database must be secured. DigitalOcean’s Managed MongoDB hosting is built on this notion. It enforces authentication and access control, encrypts data, and automatically applies security patches to the underlying infrastructure. Plus, all access control settings are fine-tuned, preventing unauthorized access to your data.

Managed MongoDB includes measures to enhance data security, offering a protective approach to your database. This layer of protection can be challenging to replicate in a self-managed environment as it requires a commitment of time, financial resources, and dedicated effort on your part.

Cost Considerations

The cost of Managed MongoDB on DigitalOcean is based on the resources you consume. This model simplifies code projections and ensures you only pay for what you need. As your application grows, you can easily adjust resources to accommodate the demand without any unnecessary cost fluctuation.

High Performance and Availability

DigitalOcean’s Managed MongoDB service offers high-performance clusters optimized for read and write operations. With features like automated sharding and efficient indexing, there’s only a little manual effort required as opposed to a self-managed setup. Plus, these clusters come with standby nodes that start serving requests if your primary node fails.

Complexities and Challenges

Managed MongoDB hosting offers many advantages but comes with challenges and complexities. With a fully managed database, you have limited customization options and costs to consider as your data grows.

You can weigh these pros and cons against managing your MongoDB yourself, the details of which we will be diving into now.

Self-Managed MongoDB on DigitalOcean

Manual Deployment

To self-manage MongoDB on DigitalOcean, manually set up and configure MongoDB on your droplets. Depending on your requirements, this process involves server provisioning, MongoDB installation, and configuring replica sets.

The plus side of setting up MongoDB manually is that you have complete control over the database configuration, which can be advantageous in specific scenarios where customizations are crucial. You can fine-tune MongoDB to align perfectly with your application’s requirements.

Backup and Recovery

With self-managed MongoDB, you are in charge of manually backing up the data. Manual backups require careful planning and execution, and there’s a higher risk of data loss if backups are managed more carefully. Recovery from a catastrophic failure can be time-consuming and may result in data loss.

Data Security

In a self-managed MongoDB environment, you’re responsible for implementing security measures. This includes configuring firewalls, managing SSL certificates, and staying vigilant for potential security vulnerabilities.

Security in a self-managed setup depends heavily on your team’s expertise. Failure to address security in time can expose your MongoDB deployment to data breaches and compliance violations.

Cost Considerations

Self-managed MongoDB costs can be more challenging to estimate. It involves infrastructure costs, including server resources and bandwidth, and labor costs associated with manual management tasks. Moreover, indirect costs like time spent on maintenance, creating backups, and troubleshooting can add up over time.

Performance and Scalability

Both managed and self-managed MongoDB solutions support scaling. However, achieving this scalability in a self-managed environment requires careful planning and manual intervention.

In a self-managed setup, you’ll need to closely monitor database performance and implement scaling strategies that require a deep understanding of MongoDB’s internal workings.

Complexities and Challenges

While self-managed MongoDB on DigitalOcean offers unparalleled control, it also introduces certain complexities. You need to manually monitor server health at all times, handle failovers, and ensure that MongoDB updates and patches are applied promptly. This demands a high level of MongoDB expertise and much focused time within your team. One minor miss can lead to performance bottlenecks, data loss, or security vulnerabilities.

Which Hosting Option to Choose?

When deciding between managed and self-managed MongoDB, consider your technical expertise, project requirements, and long-term objectives. Managed MongoDB offers simplicity and automation, while self-management provides ultimate control but demands more technical proficiency.

Here are two scenarios to help you better understand the decision at hand.

Imagine you’re running a rapidly growing e-commerce platform. You expect spikes in traffic during holiday seasons and promotions, and your data volume is constantly increasing due to new product listings and customer data. Considering its many pros, managed MongoDB hosting would be highly beneficial in this scenario.

Now consider you’re operating a data analytics company that specializes in complex data modeling, predictive analytics, and business intelligence. Your clients rely heavily on your expertise to extract valuable insights from their data, and data security and customization are paramount in your operations. Because you require more control over your database, opting for self-management of MongoDB would be the right choice.

In short, a managed MongoDB solution may be the better choice if you prioritize ease of use, security, and scalability. Conversely, self-management might be the route to take if you require fine-grained control and have the expertise to manage MongoDB effectively. Whichever option you choose, MongoDB’s power remains at your fingertips.

More Reads

Learn more about managed databases on DigitalOcean using these links:

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