Running MongoDB with Ops Manager

Onyancha Brian Henry


Database administration goes beyond ensuring smooth operations to having historic performance that will offer some baselines for capacity planning, get real-time performance for load spikes, automating a large cluster of nodes and having a backup plan for the database. 

There are so many automation tools that can perform some of these  tasks, like Ansible, Salt and Puppet but MongoDB Ops Manager offers more beyond their capability. Besides, one needs to know what the database state is, at a  given time and what updates need to be made so that the system is up to date.

What  is MongoDB Ops Manager?

This is a management application for MongoDB created by the MongoDB database engineers to make it easier to and speed up  the processes of deployment, monitoring, backups, and scaling. It is only available with the MongoDB Enterprise Advanced license.

Database usage increases with time as more users use it and the vulnerability of the data involved increases too. A database can be subjected to risks such as network humming and hacking thus affecting a business operation. The database management group needs to notice the changing numbers so as to keep the database in the latest patches and serving capability. MongoDB Ops Manager provides this extension capabilities for an improved database performance in the following ways:

  1. Data Loss Protection
  2. Easy Tasks Automation
  3. Providing  Information on query rates
  4. GUI overall Performance Visibility
  5. Elastic deployments management
  6. Integration with cloud applications

In general, Ops Manager helps in Automation, Monitoring, and Backups.

Ops Manager Automation Features

Managing a large cluster deployment by yourself can become tedious, especially when executing the same instructions over time and (depending on the demand) you will either scale up or down. Some of these tasks may require you to hire database specialists to do so. The Ops Manager GUI offers some of these actions with just a few clicks. You can use it to add or remove nodes to your cluster according to demand and the MongoDB rebalances automatically in regard to  the new topology with minimal or no downtime.

Some of the operations you performed manually (such as deploying a new cluster, upgrading nodes, adding replica set members and shards) are orchestrated and automated by the Ops Manager. The next time you undertake the procedure, you will just need a click of a button and all the tasks will be executed. There is also an Ops Manager RESTful API to enable you to integrate programmatic management.

With this type of automation, you can reduce your operational costs and overhead.

MongoDG Monitoring with Ops Manager

Monitoring is an important feature for any database system in regards to resource allocation and notifications on database health. Without any idea how your database is performing, chances of hitting a technical hitch are high and consequently catastrophic. MongoDB Ops Manager even has a complete performance visibility in a graphical representation, provides real-time reporting and an alerting capability on key performance indicators such as hardware resources.

In case of capacity planning, the Ops Manager offers a historic performance view from which operational baseline can be derived.

The monitoring is achieved by enabling it in the same MongoDB host. Monitoring collects the data from all nodes in the deployment and an Agent transmits these statistics to the Ops Manager which creates a report on the deployment status in real time.

From the reports, you can easily see slow and fast queries and figure out how you can optimize them for average performance.

The Ops Manager provides custom dashboards and charts for tracking many databases on key health metrics that include CPU utilization and memory. 

Enabling alerts in the Ops Manager is important as you would want  to know which key metrics from the database are out of range. Their configuration varies in terms of parameters affecting individual hosts, agents, replica sets and backups. The Ops Manager offers 4 major reporting strategies to keep you overhead of any potential technical hitches: Incident Management system, SMS, Email or Slack.

You can also use the Ops Manager RESTful API and feed the data to platforms such APM to view the health metrics.

MongoDB Backups with Ops Manager

Data loss is one of the most painful setbacks that may impact the operation of any business. However, with Ops Manager, data is protected. Database downtime may happen at any time for example, due to power blackouts or network disconnections. Lucky is the organization that uses the MongoDB Ops Manager since it continuously maintains backups either in a scheduled snapshots mode or a point-in-time recovery. If the MongoDB deployment fails at some point, the most recent backup will be only moments behind last database status before failure hence reduced data loss.

The tool offers a window for executing queries to backups directly to find the correct point for a restore. Besides, you can use this to understand how data structures have changed with time.

The Ops Manager backup only works with a cluster or replica set, otherwise, for a standalone mongod process you will need to convert it into a single-member replica set.

How Backup and Restoration Work with Ops Manager

After enabling backup in MongoDB deployment, the backup performs an initial sync of the deployment’s data the same way as it could be creating a new invisible member of a replica set.An agent sends the initial sync and oplog data over the HTTPS back to Ops Manager. During the backup process, the database withholds all throughput operations but they are  recorded in the oplog hence it is also sent to get the last update.

The backup will then tail each replica set’s oplog to maintain an on disk standalone database (head database) which will be maintained by the Ops Manager for each backed up replica set. This head database stays consistent with the original primary to the last oplog supplied via the agent.

For a sharded cluster, a restore can be made from checkpoints between snapshots while for a replica set a restore can be made from selected points in time. 

For a snapshot restoration, the Ops Manager will read directly from the snapshot storage. 

When using point-in-time or check point, the Ops manager restores a full snapshot from the snapshot storage and then applies the stored oplogs to a specified point. The Ops manager delivers the snapshot and oplog update using a HTTPS mechanism.

How much oplog you keep per backup will determine how much time a checkpoint and point-in-time restore can cover.

Integration with Cloud Applications

Not all MongoDB deployments are run from the same cluster host. There are so many cloud hosts (such as Red Hat OpenShift, Kubernates and Pivotal Cloud Foundry) are making the integration complicated with other tools. Ops Manager, however, can be integrated with these variety of cloud application deployment platforms hence making it consistent and elegant to run and deploy workloads wherever they need to be, ensuring same database configuration in different environments and controlling them from a single platform.


Managing a large MongoDB cluster deployment is not an easy task.  Ops Manager is an automation tool that offers a visualized database state and an alerting system; key features in providing information about the health of the database. It does, however, require an Enterprise License which for some organizations can be out of the budget.

ClusterControl provides an alternative, offering many of the same features and functions of Ops Manager but at more than half the cost. You can learn more about what ClusterControl does for MongoDB here.

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