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Developers Team Up on Ruby Framework

If the open source Ruby on Rails (RoR) development framework is to gain adoption in the enterprise, it's going to need a few vendors behind it. Among those supporters are RoR application-hosting provider Engine Yard and RoR performance management vendor New Relic.

The two RoR vendors are now partners with New Relic offering performance-management tools to Engine Yard users. Engine Yard is the basis for the New Relic software-as-a-service offering.

This partnership comes as RoR is gaining fans in the development community and starts to seep into larger enterprise deployments. The Engine Yard–New Relic partnership is important for continued growth of RoR overall as demand for RoR expertise and services grows.

"Especially for large companies that are using Ruby on Rails for the first time, they want to know that there are experts and tools to help ensure their success," Bill Lapcevic, vice president for business development at New Relic, told InternetNews.com.

"They don't have to come up with a performance monitor for their Ruby apps by themselves. Having tools and product and services is something that is happening and it will help accelerate adoption."

To deploy RoR applications, enterprises will need physical infrastructure. Tom Mornini, CTO, Engine Yard, explained to InternetNews.com that Engine Yard has a deployment environment customized for the specific needs of RoR developers.

"Sure developers could do it themselves; they could bake their own cake, but more and more people get their cakes from the supermarket today," Mornini said. "That might make it sound like a commodity, which it isn't, but the reality is that hosting on your own offers questionable value."

Mornini said Engine Yard offers value because it understands what makes RoR different. For example, a RoR deployment is not something that will run on a typical LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP/Perl/Python) stack. Rather, an optimized RoR stack makes better sense.

At the front end of the Engine Yard RoR stack is the NginX static Web server. Behind that is the application server called Mongrel, which runs the Rails applications.

The Ruby language itself and all of its various bits and pieces can then be put together with the Gem Library packaging system that extends Ruby's functionality. Mornini said all these can be extremely simple or tricky depending on the use of the application.

From a database point of view, Engine Yard supports both MySQL and PostgreSQL. In terms of the core operating system, Engine Yard has chosen Linux, specifically the Gentoo Linux distribution.

"We find Gentoo to be a good fit for what we're doing," Mornini said. "In many respects it was an arbitrary choice."

While some developers are coming to Engine Yard directly with their first RoR applications, Mornini noted that the company also gets customers from larger hosts that don't properly support RoR yet.

The addition of the New Relic performance management application will also make a difference to RoR developers. Lapcevic noted that many performance issues could affect an RoR application.

"The typical way to solve problems without new Relic is to go log file by log file and try to divine where the problem is," Lapcevic said. "And it could be almost anywhere in the application."

Performance metrics monitored by New Relic include CPU, memory, application response time and load -- all geared toward RoR application development.

Overall, though, both New Relic and Engine Yard see developers moving to RoR for the same basic reason: developer productivity.

"We see probably a two- to three-times increase in developer productivity over our previous lives working with the Java language," Lapcevic said. "When Java took off in the '90s we saw a developer-productivity enhancement over C++. Ruby is now doing the same thing to Java that Java did to C++.

It's just a matter of time before there is a lot more adoption of Ruby."