Tuesday, December 13, 2005

There is nothing as permanent as temporary: A pleasant surprise in Rails performance

When we started our Rails project a few weeks ago we had to scramble to learn Rails, tool up, and literally find a spare box as an integration/development machine. An old desktop box was found and Linux was installed. It was hastily plugged into the network under somebody's desk. Rails and its dependencies were installed, and the first embryonic version of our application was deployed under Webrick on port 3000. A duct tape and bailing wire deployment--but that's okay because it's only temporary.

As the weeks have ticked off we've been working to get "real" servers purchased, installed, configured, etc. This effort was plagued by all the usual suspects: wrong OS shipped on the servers, licenses for Red Hat Enterprise are missing, sys admins are scarce, rack rails don't fit our custom racks, the machine is finally running but not available across our VPN or our NY offices, etc. It's 4 hours until the application is set to go live to 200 users and the only viable way to deploy the application is.. You guessed it--on our temporary development box. "Can it handle the load?" "What are those errors in the development.log anyway?" "Better make sure the nightly build doesn't step on the app."

Fortunately the application is running just fine. Loads of users are on and the app is still snappy and smooth. Granted this is an internal application--not the type of application that gets pounded on the public internet. But it's still nice to see it going well--even if it is on a "temporary" and "not intended for production" server.

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