Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of MongoDB and TimescaleDB so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how MongoDB and TimescaleDB perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
MongoDB vs TimescaleDB Breakdown
Time Series Database
MongoDB uses a flexible, JSON-like document model for storing data, which allows for dynamic schema changes without downtime. It supports ad hoc queries, indexing, and real-time aggregation. MongoDB can be deployed as a standalone server, in a replica set configuration for high availability, or as a sharded cluster for horizontal scaling. It is also available as a managed cloud service called MongoDB Atlas, which provides additional features like automated backups, monitoring, and global distribution.
TimescaleDB is built on top of PostgreSQL and inherits its architecture. It extends PostgreSQL with time-series-specific optimizations and functions, allowing it to manage time series data efficiently. It can be deployed as a single node, in a multi-node setup, or in the cloud as a managed service.
SSPL for community edition, commercial licenses for other versions
Timescale License (for TimescaleDB Community Edition); Apache 2.0 (for core PostgreSQL)
Content management systems, mobile applications, real-time analytics, IoT data management, e-commerce platforms
Monitoring, observability, IoT, real-time analytics, financial market data
Horizontally scalable with support for data sharding, replication, and automatic load balancing
Horizontally scalable through native support for partitioning, replication, and sharding. Offers multi-node capabilities for distributing data and queries across nodes.
MongoDB is a popular, open-source NoSQL database launched in 2009. Designed to handle large volumes of unstructured and semi-structured data, MongoDB offers a flexible, schema-less data model, horizontal scalability, and high performance. Its ease of use, JSON-based document storage, and support for a wide range of programming languages have contributed to its widespread adoption across various industries and applications.
TimescaleDB is an open source time series database built on top of PostgreSQL. It was created to address the challenges of managing time series data, such as scalability, query performance, and data retention policies. TimescaleDB was first released in 2017 and has since become a popular choice for storing and analyzing time series data due to its PostgreSQL compatibility, performance optimizations, and flexible data retention policies.
MongoDB for Time Series Data
Although MongoDB is a general-purpose NoSQL database, it can be used for storing and processing time series data. The flexible data model of MongoDB allows for easy adaptation to the evolving structure of time series data, such as the addition of new metrics or the modification of existing ones. MongoDB provides built-in support for time-to-live (TTL) indexes, which automatically expire old data after a specified time period, making it suitable for managing large volumes of time series data with a limited storage capacity. MongoDB has also recently added a custom columnar storage engine and time series collection for time series use cases, meant to improve performance over the default MongoDB storage engine in terms of data compression and query performance.
TimescaleDB for Time Series Data
TimescaleDB is specifically designed for time series data, making it a natural choice for storing and querying such data. It provides several advantages for time series data management like horizontal scalability, columnar storage, and retention policy support. However, TimescaleDB may not be the best choice for all time series use cases. One example would be if an application requires very high write throughput or real-time analytics, other specialized time series databases like InfluxDB may be more suitable.
MongoDB Key Concepts
Some key terminology and concepts specific to MongoDB include:
- Database: A MongoDB database is a container for collections, which are groups of related documents.
- Collection: A collection in MongoDB is analogous to a table in relational databases, holding a set of documents.
- Document: A document in MongoDB is a single record, stored in a JSON-like format called BSON (Binary JSON). Documents within a collection can have different structures.
- Field: A field is a key-value pair within a document, similar to an attribute or column in a relational database.
- Index: An index in MongoDB is a data structure that improves the query performance on specific fields within a collection.
TimescaleDB Key Concepts
- Hypertable: A hypertable is a distributed table that is partitioned by time and possibly other dimensions, such as device ID or location. It is the primary abstraction for storing time series data in TimescaleDB and is designed to scale horizontally across multiple nodes.
- Chunk: A chunk is a partition of a hypertable, containing a subset of the hypertable’s data. Chunks are created automatically by TimescaleDB based on a specified time interval and can be individually compressed, indexed, and backed up for better performance and data management.
- Distributed Hypertables: For large-scale deployments, TimescaleDB supports distributed hypertables, which partition data across multiple nodes for improved query performance and fault tolerance.
MongoDB’s architecture is centered around its flexible, document-based data model. As a NoSQL database, MongoDB supports a schema-less structure, which allows for the storage and querying of diverse data types, such as nested arrays and documents. MongoDB can be deployed as a standalone server, a replica set, or a sharded cluster. Replica sets provide high availability through automatic failover and data redundancy, while sharded clusters enable horizontal scaling and load balancing by distributing data across multiple servers based on a shard key.
TimescaleDB is an extension built on PostgreSQL, inheriting its relational data model and SQL support. However, TimescaleDB extends PostgreSQL with custom data structures and optimizations for time series data, such as hypertables and chunks.
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Flexible Data Model
MongoDB’s schema-less data model allows for the storage and querying of diverse data types, making it well-suited for handling complex and evolving data structures.
MongoDB’s replica set feature ensures high availability through automatic failover and data redundancy.
MongoDB’s sharded cluster architecture enables horizontal scaling and load balancing, allowing it to handle large-scale data processing and querying.
TimescaleDB automatically partitions time series data tables using hypertables and chunks, which simplifies data management and improves query performance.
Time series focused SQL functions
TimescaleDB provides several specialized SQL functions and operators for time series data application scenarios, such as time_bucket, first, and last, which simplify querying and aggregating time series data.
As mentioned earlier, TimescaleDB extends PostgreSQL’s query planner for writing and querying time series data, including optimizations like time-based indexing and chunk pruning.
MongoDB Use Cases
Content Management Systems
MongoDB’s flexible data model makes it an ideal choice for content management systems, which often require the ability to store and manage diverse content types, such as articles, images, and videos. The schema-less nature of MongoDB allows for easy adaptation to changing content structures and requirements.
IoT Data Storage and Analytics
MongoDB’s support for high data volumes and horizontal scalability makes it suitable for storing and processing data generated by IoT devices, such as sensor readings and device logs. Its ability to index and query data efficiently allows for real-time analytics and monitoring of IoT devices.
MongoDB’s flexibility and performance features make it an excellent choice for e-commerce platforms, where diverse product information, customer data, and transaction records need to be stored and queried efficiently. The flexible data model enables easy adaptation to changes in product attributes and customer preferences, while the high availability and scalability features ensure a smooth and responsive user experience.
TimescaleDB Use Cases
Monitoring and metrics
TimescaleDB is well-suited for storing and analyzing monitoring and metrics data, such as server performance metrics, application logs, and sensor data. Its hypertable structure and query optimizations make it easy to store, query, and visualize large volumes of time series data.
IoT data storage
TimescaleDB can be used to store and analyze IoT data, such as sensor readings and device status information. Its support for automatic partitioning and specialized SQL interfaces simplifies the management and querying of large-scale IoT datasets.
TimescaleDB is suitable for storing and analyzing financial data, such as stock prices, exchange rates, and trading volumes. Its query optimizations and specialized SQL functions make it easy to perform time-based aggregations and analyze trends in financial data.
MongoDB Pricing Model
MongoDB offers various pricing options, including a free, open-source Community Edition and a commercial Enterprise Edition, which includes advanced features, management tools, and support. MongoDB Inc. also offers a fully managed cloud-based database-as-a-service, MongoDB Atlas, with a pay-as-you-go pricing model based on storage, data transfer, and compute resources. MongoDB Atlas offers a free tier with limited resources for users who want to try the service without incurring costs.
TimescaleDB Pricing Model
TimescaleDB is available in two editions: TimescaleDB Open Source and TimescaleDB Cloud. The open-source edition is free to use and can be self-hosted, while the cloud edition is a managed service with a pay-as-you-go pricing model based on storage, compute, and data transfer usage. TimescaleDB Cloud offers various pricing tiers with different levels of resources and features, such as continuous backups and high availability.
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