Topic: Suggestions for finding a Rails consultant for scaling/deployment

Hello all,

I work for the Encyclopedia of Life project ( at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA.  The EOL website is currently built on Ruby on Rails 2.0.2.  The server infrastructure is a cluster of 3 servers running Apache + Mongrel + MySQL, with Apache proxying to 20 mongrel processes on each server.   We also have some back end data stores with MySQL and file system storage with PHP-based XML web services for gluing things together.  The website makes extensive use of Rails fragment caching to speed things up.

Over the next few months we would like to optimize the server infrastructure and are seeking an expert in enterprise Ruby on Rails deployments to assist in this task.  We have Rails development expertise in house but need to have someone work with the IT department to optimize and define the deployment issues, including:

1. Addressing scalability issues with Ruby and Rails and how to best attack them
2. Strategies for integrating Mongrel with Apache for high usage websites
3. Is Apache the best web server to use with Mongrel?  Is Mongrel the best way to serve Rails?
4. Best way to deal with gem installation across servers - perhaps gem repository?
5. Best way to configure Ruby/Rails code for deployment across test, release candidate, and production servers - including usage of subversion and capistrano
6. Tricks for optimizing Ruby and Rails code for high traffic web applications
7. Any security issues with Ruby and Rails
8. Any security issues with Capistrano and subversion

The first release of the EOL website is currently serving upwards of 30-40k page views per day all over the world and during major launches (2-3 times a year) will serve up many many more during a very short period of time.  The load is expected to increase greatly once user contributions and additional data are added.  The server room is currently located in Woods Hole, MA, where the consultant would be expected to travel.  We would expect perhaps a 4-5 day engagement.  If you are interested, or have suggestions about where we should go find this person, please contact me: peter at


Last edited by peetucket (2008-03-17 15:58:03)

Re: Suggestions for finding a Rails consultant for scaling/deployment

You could always just pay the guys at Engine Yard to host your site. They will handle almost all of the problems you mentioned there for significantly less than you'd pay for a consultant. Hosting on Engine Yard is expensive, but it's more like an outsourced IT department than just hosting.

Also hate to sound like an Ezra puppet, but if you have proficient Rails coders you could buy the new deploying rails book from the Pragmatic Programmers (it's written by one of the founders of Engine Yard).

Re: Suggestions for finding a Rails consultant for scaling/deployment

Thanks for the suggestions - we actually already pre-ordered that book months ago (we've got the PDF, the hardcopy is not yet shipping).  We're also considering hosted solutions and will look at Engine Yard for either consulting or hosting.  Note that the EOL will house a lot of data (already hundreds of GB, and likely to approach TBs in the not too distant future) making it a necessity that we have our own cluster with lots of storage.  We're mostly looking for a smart Rails person that has been in the deployment-trenches before with these extremely large scale websites to be sure we are on the right track.    It sounds like the folks at Engine Yard might fit that bill.