Sunday, May 20, 2007

RailsConf '07 - Saturday Sessions

Session: Exploring Virtual Clusters for Rails Development and Deployment
This talk was mainly on why you should use virtual machines for pretty much everything you do. For those that aren't familiar with virtual machines, they are computers, just like the one you are using, except they run inside another computer. So, if I'm using Windows Vista (no flamewars please) I could use a vm server to run Windows XP, a flavor of Linux or Unix, or even another Windows Vista, like an application.
While this is nothing new, here are a few reasons to use VMs:
  • Consolidation - you can run many servers on a single hardware box
  • Isolation - if one of the vms has a problem, it's easy enough to shut it down and boot it back up, or use a backup and go from there.
  • Replication
    • You can easily create vms from existing hardware configurations and stick them up on any available vm server.
    • Your deployment will be standardized, so once you get a VM setup, it's copy and paste for new servers.
    • VM provisioning can be automated. So, if you need a new server because your site is getting slammed, just boot them up.
  • Utilization
    • Though there may be a slight (3-5% is what I've heard) for running VMs, you'll be utilizing much more of your CPU, which goes largely unused most of the time.
    • You'll get to reclaim unused memory and disk space.
    • You paid for your hardware, might as well use it to its fullest extent!
  • Resource Allocation
    • You can "grow and shrink" your servers on demand. Need more disk space on your database server? Just add some (as long as there's free disk space on the physical server)
    • "Load Balanced" servers on Hardware - If you need to transfer a VM from one physical machine to another, it can be done on the fly. Everything, including the in-memory data, will be transfered, and your customers won't even know. No downtime!
    • Guaranteed vs Burstable Resources - You can guarantee resources to the VM, and if a VM needs more resources, those resources can be allocated.
Session: The Business of Rails
This session was a panel of professionals that went into business for themselves, solely related to Rails. Robby Russell of Portland's Planet Argon was present, as was the founder of PeepCode. The gist was to strike out on your own and have a plan, even if it's not the best. It's better than nothing!

Break: Pioneer Square
I couldn't take being inside anymore, so I took the Max over to Pioneer Square and hung out at Outside magazine's 30th birthday. The guys from Climbaxe and PRG were there manning the portable climbing wall. It was nice to get out in the sun and rest the eyes.

Highlight of the day was the Extra Action Marching Band. Really cool concept, and the girls were nice to look at. The performance I saw (slightly NWS) was PG-13 bordering on R, while the performance at Dante's later in the evening was I'm sure R bordering on X. I bet it was a damn good show.

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