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MongoDB, the open source NoSQL database, is going to acquire mobile database platform Realm. The purchase is certainly one with clear technological and strategic benefits for both companies – and with MongoDB paying $39 million for a company that has up to now raised $40 million since its launch in 2011, it’s clear that this is a move that isn’t about short term commercial gains.

It’s important to note that the acquisition is not yet complete. It’s expected to close in January 2020 at the end of the second quarter MongoDB’s fiscal year. Further details about the acquisition and what it means for both products, will be revealed at MongoDB World in June.

Why is MongoDB acquiring Realm?

In the materials that announce the launch there’s a lot of talk about the alignment between the two projects. “The best thing in the world is when someone just gets you, and you get them” MongoDB CTO Eliot Horowitz wrote in a blog post accompanying the release, “because when you share a vision of the world like that, you can do incredible things together. That’s exactly the case with MongoDB and Realm.”

At a more fundamental level the acquisition allows MongoDB to do a number of things. It can reach a new community of developers  working primarily in mobile development (according to the press release Realm has 100,000 active users), but it also allows MongoDB to strengthen its capabilities as cloud evolves to become the dominant way that applications are built and hosted.

According to Dev Ittycheria, MongoDB President and CEO, Realm “is a natural fit for our global cloud database, MongoDB Atlas, as well as a complement to Stitch, our serverless platform.” Serverless might well be a nascent trend at the moment, but the level of conversation and interest around it indicates that it’s going to play a big part in application developers lives in the months and years to come.

What’s in it for Realm?

For Realm, the acquisition will give the project access to a new pool of users. With backing from MongoDB, is also provides robust foundations for the project to extend its roadmap and even move faster than it previously would have been able to.

Realm CEO David Ratner wrote yesterday (April 24) that:

“The combination of MongoDB and Realm will establish the modern standard for mobile application development and data synchronization for a new generation of connected applications and services. MongoDB and Realm are fully committed to investing in the Realm Database and the future of data synchronization, and taking both to the next phase of their evolution. We believe that MongoDB will help accelerate Realm’s product roadmap, go-to-market execution, and support our customers’ use cases at a whole new level of global operational scale.”

A new chapter for MongoDB?

2019 hasn’t been the best year for MongoDB so far. The project withdrew its submission for its controversial Server Side Public License last month following news that Red Hat was dropping it from Enterprise Linux and Fedora. This brought an initiative that the leadership viewed as strategically important in defending MongoDB’s interests to a dramatic halt.

However, the Realm acquisition sets up a new chapter and could go some way in helping MongoDB bolster itself for a future that it has felt uncertain about.

Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.