[Mongrel] Some architecture questions for my mongrelian friends

public at misuse.org public at misuse.org
Fri May 16 16:34:13 EDT 2008


I'm working on a project, and mongrel may be part of the stack, but 
I've got some more general questions and ideas I'm hoping to run by 
this list. The people on this list have a broader knowledgebase and 
more experience than any place else I know - plus a general 
friendliness and willingness to help!

I'm working with a company who has a really antique application stack. 
Literally from 1998. IIS + ASP + MS SQL server. They want me to help 
"modernize" things. In the abstract I'd say, "get a really good .NET 
team and go that route." But they want me to help. All I work in these 
days is Ruby. And that's all I want to work in. :)

So my questions are like this:

1) Can I in good conscience start migrating this company from IIS/ASP 
to Mongrel/Ruby/Merb/ORM (or something like that)? They have roughly 
2-3M page views per month.

1.a) No matter how good they think I am, wouldn't it be smarter to move 
forward with M$ since that's what they've got already? I don't want to 
be the guy who screws them deeper into the hole by really confusing 
their stack.

I hate it when new dudes come in with their "stack" and bias 
development based on their preferences withou considering what's 
already there. I'd rather walk away from this if Microsoft is really 
their odds-on smart choice (i.e. I don't need the money - I have some 
personal relations that led me here). All I want is the company to be 

2) Their MS SQL setup is relatively fine. Lots of wacky stored procs 
which bug me but mostly it's fine. Am I crazy to try to run MS SQL 
against Ruby/ORM? Seems like there are some people doing it?

3) If I do this, I'd plan to segment this site into two separate boxes 
and run the Ruby on a Linux box (and maybe outsource that management to 
a group like EngineYard). Then have the LB's split traffic between the 
boxes based on url patterns. Again: crazy? unwise? Currently they're at 
rackspace which knows poodle about Ruby/Mongrel afaict.

Context: The front-end site is not impossibly complex. But there is 
"deep" integration with some backend admin processes which run a large 
part of the business: some crm, PPC, finance/accounting, email and 
billing: all partially implemented and built in hand coded ASP. It's a 
real tangle and it breaks all the time right now. I want to get most of 
these processes out into third party systems with much narrower points 
of contact between the production DB's and the specific admin services. 
This can only happen incrementally over time. This is in addition to 
the front-end websystem migration.

Budgets for this work are not tiny but not enormous. Ditto timeframe. 
Maybe $250k over 6-8 months.

Any tips or advice on taking on large migration projects such as this 
would be appreciated. Advice such as "run!" is welcome also. I realize 
there are no definite answers - I'm just looking for experience or 
advice on how to reach conclusions here.

I realize this is horribly off-topic and impossibly vague. And I 
wouldn't ask for this input, except that I highly admire and regard the 
capabilities and experience of many people who are on this list. I 
can't think of a smarter mail list who could help advise on this. Any 
assistance at all will be greatly appreciated.



p.s. Anyone who has possible interest in this project professionally 
can also contact me directly off-list.

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