It's Not Always Sunny In the Clouds: Lessons Learned

Mike Subelsky (OtherInbox)
General
Location: Ballroom B
Average rating: ***..
(3.61, 18 ratings)

In theory, Rails’ shared-nothing architecture is ideal for cloud computing, because increasing capacity is simply a matter of adding more servers to your deployment, and server power becomes an instantly available commodity. In practice, building on a cloud platform introduces many new points of complexity as well as new opportunities and new ways of doing business, and any company thinking of cloud computing as just-another-VPS will be sure to make mistakes.

These issues will be illuminated via a case study of OtherInbox, a Rails startup that launched at in September 2008 at Techcrunch50 and experienced a 2700% increase in usage over a seven week period. The challenges will be presented in a lesson-learned format and will include:

  • Ephemeral servers and unreliable data stores (making backups a central part of the app)
  • Automatic scaling using RightScale, Scalr, or PoolParty
  • Automatic server provisioning and deployment
  • Use of dynamic DNS
  • Centralized logging
  • Handling exception notification
  • Useful gems and 3rd party libraries
  • Asynchronous processing
  • Making schema changes
  • New deployment and rollback techniques
  • System administration challenges
  • Security concerns including firewall configuration
  • Setting up staging environments
  • Real financial costs
  • Adapting MySQL (including MySQL master-slave relationships)
  • Performance measurement

Although OtherInbox is built on Amazon Web Services, the discussion will be vendor-neutral and applicable to all cloud computing platforms. Audience members will leave this conference session with the answers to these questsions:

- Does cloud computing hype match reality? - Should I build my next business in the clouds? - How well does Rails really perform in a cloud environment? - What’s different about designing a Rails app for the cloud?

Speaker interview with Mike Subelsky

Photo of Mike Subelsky

Mike Subelsky

OtherInbox

Co-founder and lead hacker of OtherInbox. I’m a hacker, Ruby on Rails developer, SproutCore enthusiast, and improv theater director based in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Comments

Picture of Mike Subelsky
Mike Subelsky
06/03/2009 7:34am PDT

thanks to everyone who came to the talk and also thanks for leaving such nice comments! I feel really encouraged!

David Vanderson
05/09/2009 3:15pm PDT

One of the best sessions at railsconf. It’s so nice to hear from people blazing the trail. Thanks!

Greg Gard
05/08/2009 6:29pm PDT

mike, i really appreciated your anti-hype. we have been considering clouds as it would (maybe) cut down on our deployment woes. as the resident sysadmin/developer, i have been worried about what would be the downside of migrating for me. and, wow, did you open my eyes. thanks for being brave…gg

Picture of Ryan Schenk
Ryan Schenk
05/07/2009 12:17pm PDT

Mike, I enjoyed your energetic and engaging presenting style

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