Read about it in this tgethr blog post.
Rob and I were recently asked by a client for some help justifying the choice of Ruby as an implementation language for their SaaS product. They were very happy with the results, but wanted to be prepared to answer investor and customer questions about why Rails was a good choice.
One way that I’ve been talking about Rails is in the context of what I’m calling “The ARC Model”: Agile + Rails + Cloud. I’ll borrow from my abstract from my talk at BizConf:
The Ruby on Rails Revolution has been one of productivity and efficiency, and has coincided with an equally powerful revolution in the ownership of technological infrastructure. The Rails approach combines agile methods with a highly productive language to allow developers to focus on developing business value, instead of developing plumbing. The Cloud Computing Revolution at the same time has changed the economics of infrastructure, allowing computation to become a commodity not worthy of developer attention, further enabling developers to focus on that which is truly valuable, Innovation. These three factors, Agile, Rails, and the Cloud, combine to revolutionize the economics of software development and information management, in ways that directly impact return on investment.
The question should not be, “is Rails a safe choice,” but “[how long] can we justify the expense of traditional development approaches.”
I think this kind of approach plays nicely to the strengths of SaaS.
In terms of large enterprise deployments, it’s early yet: Enterprises tend to be conservative (about Rails as they are about SaaS) so most of the innovation has been in the startup space, with companies like Hulu being good examples of the disruptive power of Rails.
But that said, there have been some major mainstream Enterprise success stories. AT&T chose to dump a failing Java yellowpages effort in favor of Rails, with excellent results in terms of scalability, time to market, code quality, and performance. (There’s a decent write-up on BuildingWebApps.)
We are starting to see major companies develop ever more mission/business/revenue-critical components in Rails. BestBuy built Remix, their new public API app, with us using Rails. We have one major multinational client who is rewriting their entire ERP system in Ruby internally. We have another major hardware vendor building new products using Rails.
Large companies tend to be a bit shy about talking about new technology initiatives, and we suspect that most Fortune 500 companies have someone doing Rails somewhere in the organization. There are a number of others we’ve spoken to who are using the technology to their advantage, but who aren’t ready to talk about it publicly yet. But you can also search for job listings from major companies and see how many big companies are hiring Rails developers. We see them all the time.
Hard statistics are harder to come by, but Mark Driver at Gartner projected that there would be 4 million ruby programmers by 2013. We’re already seeing the smart companies get huge efficiencies out of these new development models: efficiencies of cost, flexibility, and time to market.
We’re very bullish on Agile, Rails and the Cloud. In the current economic climate, the reduction in risk alone is worth the cost of admission. Coupled with the qualitative benefits of being able to out-flank your competition, it’s no surprise that we’re continuing to see adoption grow so rapidly. The results are too compelling to ignore.
I just spent a wonderful weekend with 75 of the brightest folks I know in the Ruby community. My hat’s off to Obie and the Hashrocket crew for putting together a really great, intimate conference in a beautiful location. It’s refreshing to really have to struggle to choose which talk to attend from so many choices at each session. I know too many choices are a Bad Thing™, but the format made for great small sessions, and a wonderful thing happened: Everyone got to really meet and get to know everyone.
Among many others, I had the pleasure of meeting CJ Kihlbom, who nails a lot of why these conferences are so important in his post, The Business Value of Conferences.
It was really pleasant to present to a community of business leaders who understand the value of agile, and who are serious practitioners in their own practices.
Those of you who thought about coming but didn’t really missed out. Come next year. You’ll be glad you did.
Last week, Wolfram Arnold of RubyFocus interviewed Edward Hieatt, our VP of Engineering, and Davis Frank, one of our engineers, to try to get at the heart of how you build a scalable software development team.
The interview is posted on RailsLab, at
It’s a nice piece. We look forward to the second installment.
I want to thank the judges for selecting Pivotal Tracker above a category dominated by Agile project management tools, and for rewarding Tracker for innovation.
And of course I want to thank and congratulate the development team and visionaries, particularly Dan Podsedly, Alex Chaffee, Rob Mee, Mark Michael, and Edward Hieatt for envisioning and then building the tool that we’ve come to depend on.
Michael Buffington has posted the first of a what will hopefully be a series of tours on Pivotal Tracker, this one about how Michael uses Tracker as a personal GTD-style task manager.
If you haven’t heard of GTD, it stands for “Getting Things Done”, a work-life “action management” method and book by David Allen. Read more about it here.
A lot of us here at Pivotal Labs have been using Pivotal Tracker as a personal productivity tool, and we’re definitely getting more things done!
Thanks, Michael, we’re looking forward to more tours.
Today I spent the day on Capitol Hill, presenting the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation to the 12th Annual Tech Exhibition of the Congressional Internet Caucus. OSDV is a non-profit foundation working to build open source solutions for voter and election management, as a way to increase the transparency of elections, restore confidence in the vote, and reduce the cost to states and counties to implement such systems.
The application we were showing was one we’ve been developing with them for the past 8 weeks, an online voter registration tracking system, called Reggie. It’s designed to help eligible voters to register to vote, and to track their registration process; and to give registrars greater oversight and auditability.
By applying agile methods and leveraging Ruby on Rails, we were able to deliver a fully test-driven alpha product in just 8 weeks from the initial scoping meeting, during the holiday season, with a single pair of developers.
OSDV has had serious interest from a number of State Secretaries and registrars, and hopes to pilot with at least one state in the coming months.
Pivotal-developed projects like this one, Peer to Patent, and Casebook apply modern web technologies to improve the efficiency and transparency of government. We’re proud to work on projects like this one, and to be an agent for change.
For the last year or so, we’ve been inviting speakers to come visit us and talk about interesting things in the Ruby/Rails space, the agile space, and on topics related to software development in general. We see it as a great way to keep our developers on the cutting edge, and a number of speakers have used it as an opportunity to gather early feedback from our team. We’ve found the talks we’ve had to be very valuable to us, and are pleased to share them with the larger community.
We’ve also had a number of panel discussions in our Project Startup and are posting those talks as well.
We’ll keep posting talks as we have them. If there are topics you’d like to see, or topics you’d like to present, please email us!