Ruby On Rails & Mongrel Generally Slow

Rich Skrenta wrote an article recently about ranking web 2.0 sites by server performance, in which he talks about server response time and latency and how it impacts a site.

To see how everything stacked up, Rich decided that he’d profile over 500 of the top web 2.0 sites and throw in a healthy bunch of familiar faces as a yard stick. Some of the more familiar sites which were profiled were:

  • Amazon
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Reddit
  • Slide
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo!
  • YouTube

The average response times of the sites profiled varies wildly, ranging from a blazingly fast 6 milliseconds all the way up to a pathetic 15 seconds. It seems that for every 100 web sites you go down the list – it increases the average response time by approximately 75 milliseconds until you get to the outriders which skew the results.

Rich conveniently includes the web server used for the site if it was available, which as you’d expect features Apache and IIS heavily. What I found particularly interesting though, was to see where all of the super cool Ruby On Rails web sites sit within the list. You’ll notice that the programming language or platform isn’t specified within the list, so you’re probably wondering how I joined the dots – well it was the Mongrel web server which many Ruby On Rails web sites use.

Scanning down the list of web 2.0 sites, you might have noticed how many sites are running Mongrel:

  • 1 – 100, three sites
  • 101 – 200, two sites
  • 201 – 300, six sites
  • 301 – 400, four sites
  • 401 – 500, seven sites
  • 500+, two sites

The web 2.0 space has been dominated by people building out the next cool thing using Ruby On Rails, as it was the flavour of the month. Given that there are so few sites running Mongrel as a web site, either Rich happened to pick over 500 sites which generally don’t use Ruby On Rails or combining it with Mongrel isn’t the preferred mechanism anymore.

Everything else aside, the list does point out one really really significant thing; it doesn’t matter what web server or programming language your site or product is built in, poor design and architecture will lead to poor performance in nearly every instance. Apache delivering the fastest and slowest content within the list is evidence of this fact.

1 thought on “Ruby On Rails & Mongrel Generally Slow

  1. The classification may be a bit tainted when it comes down to Rails applications as the currently preferred production deployment is a cluster of mongrel servers proxied through a load balancing apache server which also does the heavily lifting when it comes down to serving up static content. Hence depending on how you try to determine what the server side is, you may end up classifying all these mongrel clusters as Apache farms.

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