Interview with Sachin Chawla, Vice President – India & APAC, MongoDB 

The previous generation of great Indian businesses and enterprises are now defined by their ability to build software and manage data.

IndustryARC reported that the cloud database market will reach $39.1 billion by 2026, after growing at a CAGR of 31.4% during 2021-2026. The boost can be accredited to the rise in the adoption of IoT technologies and the usage of cloud databases for computing in various organisations for different applications. Amongst the well-known database programs is MongoDB. 

Analytics India Magazine interacted with Sachin Chawla, Vice President – India & APAC, MongoDB, to know more about cloud databases and MongoDB, a source-available cross-platform document-oriented database program.

Sachin is an engineer and a postgraduate in management and is currently based in New Delhi. He has more than 19 years of industry experience building high-performance teams working with diverse portfolios across varied segments like Global Software, Hardware, Cloud, IT Services, etc. He also has a strong P&L expertise in Sales and Business development in emerging technology areas. Sachin has served as the country manager for BMC Software and has had a long and distinguished career at Amazon Web Services, where he held various leadership roles building the Enterprise and Digital Native segments. He joined MongoDB in February 2022 and is responsible for building and scaling MongoDB across the APAC and Japan regions.

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AIM – How is the cloud database space growing in and outside India?

Sachin Chawla – We operate in one of the biggest markets in all software. According to IDC, the worldwide data management software market is forecast to be ~$84 billion in 2022, growing to ~$121 billion in 2025. The cloud part of that market is growing incredibly fast. As cloud services mature and reduce costs, more customers will move to the cloud. As they move to the cloud, they will realise how important it is to have flexible, affordable, scalable and secure database management to build modern applications. That would mean that more organisations will choose modern application data platforms to reduce time to market, higher developer productivity and lower TCO. That is a big market, and the sky is the headroom. 

In India, in particular, space is growing incredibly quickly. There are a couple of major reasons for that speed of growth here –first is, building great software is becoming very important to almost every business in India as they try and offer consumers better experiences. Then there’s a need to easily scale that app or service across our large population, something that’s challenging with traditional database solutions. To do those two things, you need incredibly productive developers, and India has millions, and you need a really powerful cloud infrastructure that is built for modern applications and data types.

Cloud infrastructure does not require a large team to manage and support it. So with the large developer ecosystem here in India, we are seeing more and more companies looking for alternatives to the traditional ways of doing things right across the tech stack, but particularly with backend software like databases.

AIM – What is the future of the cloud database space?

Sachin Chawla – We believe the future of cloud databases is to have an Application Data Platform (ADP). What I mean by that is a single application data platform with a unified query language that can power all the data requirements of the modern database such as search, analytics and mobile. This negates the need for multiple specialists’ databases, giving companies the best possible flexibility to move fast and simplify how they build with data for any application.

Developers become more productive as you remove obstacles to progress, including infrastructure sprawl, rigid data structures, and fragmented developer experiences. With our ADP platform, the tech architecture becomes elegant and repeatable. Sophisticated security and data privacy requirements are built-in, so they don’t become a separate, massive project. There is no compromise on deployment flexibility. A single application can be deployed globally across regions and even across multiple clouds without rewriting code or spending months in the planning.

AIM – What are the challenges faced in adopting cloud databases?

Sachin Chawla – Cloud databases come with a series of advantages and are becoming extremely popular in the era of digital transformation; however, there are also a few pitfalls that organisations should be aware of as they decide to move to the cloud. The single biggest mistake we see organisations make is the lift and shift approach. They are taking their existing relational infrastructure and sticking it in the cloud. This doesn’t solve the underlying challenges and means they will often be left disappointed. 

Another challenge is the fear of vendor lock-in. It can be complicated to move cloud infrastructure to a different provider once a business has chosen a cloud service provider. Organisations should address this by finding a data layer that can be run seamlessly across multiple cloud providers. In addition to this, the ideal infrastructure should give an organisation the option to escape the cloud completely (if they choose to) and go back to their own data centre, all without changing the data layer. In short, customers should have the ultimate freedom on when and where they want to deploy the data infrastructure.

AIM – What is the growth opportunity in India for MongoDB (Database Management Platform segment)?

Sachin Chawla – India is now the third-largest startup ecosystem globally, with over 60,000 startups. We’ve also got 90 unicorns (companies with $1 billion valuations), second only to China and the US. Then, we can ask what are some of the fundamental elements driving the success of modern businesses like that? Well, for almost all of them – there are two key components: 1) their ability to build great applications and 2) whether they can successfully manage, protect and monetise the huge variety and volume of data they generate. The best businesses and developers are turning to the best of breed data platforms to do this, and we firmly believe that’s MongoDB.

The large established enterprises are now essentially playing the same game as the startups. Customer expectations are changing, and new competitors are bursting into markets. The previous generation of great Indian businesses and enterprises is also defined by their ability to build software and manage data. And that means they are changing how they do things. And this is why we have already seen such strong momentum in the market. We already have more than 1800 customers in India. That includes startup customers like Seracle, a startup that builds blockchain solutions and crypto exchanges and MyBillBook – India’s No.1 GST Billing and Accounting Software for small and medium-sized businesses. Vedantu, the company transforming education technology in India, is also our customer. We also work with Zomato, one of the world’s largest restaurant discovery and food delivery services. In Enterprise, while we can’t name them, we are doing significant deals with India’s well-known banking and insurance institutions. This is a similar trend to what we see in some other regions, take Porsche for example or the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK. Some of the most traditional companies in the world are now choosing MongoDB.

AIM – How is India’s robust startup ecosystem growing? what are the developers’ role in it?

Sachin Chawla – As I mentioned, India has the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world today, and we have millions of developers who are the driving force in that ecosystem. Additionally, with a strong push to further strengthen India’s robust startup ecosystem, the Government of India is also taking several measures to help the segment grow by introducing certain policies that can catalyse this growth.

Today, a company’s competitive advantage is tied to how well they build software using their most important asset – data. Delivering a modern customer experience relies on the underlying data infrastructure and software; therefore, developers have become the most important team in the organisation. Developers built MongoDB for developers. And now developers have moved to boardrooms and are making critical decisions, and they love MongoDB. They love us as it helps them scale, adapt and grow while keeping the time spent worrying about infrastructure to a minimum.

To best enable them, we have a number of programmes that help startups adopt MongoDB easily and effectively. One example is a programme called MongoDB for startups, a selective program for early-stage high growth startups and is mainly meant for founders and CEOs to build and grow data-driven organisations.

AIM – How is MongoDB working with the developer community in India?

Sachin Chawla – Throughout the globe, MongoDB is helping developers to build applications without having to spend too much time dealing with database infrastructure or capacity management. MongoDB has a massive and engaged community of developers. In fact, the database was downloaded nearly 100 million times in the last year alone, and India is one of the top regions for downloads. MongoDB works directly with developers in India and through collaborations with system integrators and boutique independent software suppliers who create solutions based on the company’s platform. We also offer MongoDB University, which helps developers build MongoDB skills and advance their careers with courses and certification. There have been more than 1.5 million MongoDB University registrations and more than 360,000 in India. Not just this, we have several other programs both globally and here in India for developers and startups. For instance, we have numerous User Groups where developers share ideas and best practices and a fantastic developer hub that helps answer any questions new or experienced developers might have. We have continuously been expanding our initiatives to create a better user experience.

AIM – Give us some insights on how MongoDB is growing fast across various markets and geographies.

Sachin Chawla – MongoDB just delivered another strong set of results on March 9. In the fourth quarter of our most recent fiscal year, we saw growth of 56 per cent year-over-year, and we are now at more than 33,000 customers globally across 100 countries. Most excitingly, MongoDB Atlas, our cloud service, grew at 85 per cent year-over-year and contributed 58 per cent of our total Q4 revenue. We have had more than 200 million downloads, many of whom come from India. We also have more than 1800 customers in India, and the customer count is growing at a rate of 60 per cent Y-O-Y in India. Industries like healthcare, financial services, education, gaming, etc., have seen massive growth in data consumption over the last two years due to the pandemic’s surge in online activities. We work with both startups and large enterprises to help them become agile and innovate faster. Globally, we work with companies that include the likes of Sega, Box, Coinbase, Verizon, Porsche, Forbes, Toyota, Macquarie Bank and 7-11.

While startups are always on the cutting edge, focused on technology and great customer experience, by using the latest tools, as I mentioned earlier, traditional enterprises are now also committing effort and resources to ensure their services maintain the high digital expectations of modern consumers, without compromising on the security and trust that users require.

AIM – What is MongoDB’s Go-to-Market strategy for the year ahead?

Sachin Chawla – Our focus will be on helping developers build great applications and helping businesses scale. We are becoming a strategic technology partner and standard for our customers, which supports our ability to generate attractive growth at scale for the foreseeable future. We are also exploring different channels to reach our customers and grow our sales and engineering teams across the region to serve our customers better. We believe MongoDB can be a massive inflexion point in an employee’s career. 

Poornima Nataraj
Poornima Nataraj has worked in the mainstream media as a journalist for 12 years, she is always eager to learn anything new and evolving. Witnessing a revolution in the world of Analytics, she thinks she is in the right place at the right time.

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