Are there any Scalability Issues with your Ruby on Rails App?

When it comes to developing rapid web application development, Ruby on Rails is an essential and ideal tool for applications of all sizes. However, one size does not fit for all, Ruby on Rails has been a matter of discussion for a long time for its scalability issues. We have been discussing the subject along with our team for a long time. And we have come up with some exciting outcomes.

Ruby on Rails is famous for its flexibility, startup-friendly nature, support and useful tools. The more you go deep down into it, the better you understand about the framework and know its technical issues.

Scalability with RoR framework is not new, but some of the key events took place such as Twitter Switched to Scala, which triggered discussion if Ruby on Rails can scale. For all this confusion, there’s a strong reaction from the man himself, the Creator of Ruby on Rails, Founder & CTO at Basecamp, David Heinemeier Hansson who silenced everyone talking about the RoR’s scalability issue. He clearly mentioned that top high traffic-driven websites such as GitHub and Shopify with bazillion users based on Ruby on Rails. There are gems for everything. “What a mess on an analysis. Rails can’t scale! Oh here’s Shopify and Github with a bazillion users! Gem releases are slow! There’s a gem for everything! Ruby is old! Hey look at JavaScript (~same age)!”


So, as per Hansson the creator of Ruby on Rails, everything is crystal clear now, and you should not have any question regarding its scalability. However, you must know how to make the RoR scalable, which involves the right use Gem and using the right Gem for certain inevitable issue.

In this article, we will be discussing some expertly suggested tips and solutions on how you can create outstanding applications having no scalable issue.

Make Code as Simple as Possible

As Ruby on Rails website says, it is a “dynamic, open-source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write.”

As a developer, you should not ignore this and try to write code as simple as possible. Initially, refactoring will cost you hard in terms of efforts and resources, but it will help save some big bucks in the long run. At the same time, you can follow the relevant solutions which require enhanced computational power.

Use of Right Gem

There are gems for every issue. All you need to do is to know the right gem for the right issue. You need to understand the gem and uses. There are gems which you can help you eradicate scalability issue as well, just find out the right one and get the issue solved, right away. Gems can be used for different purposes, even for the purpose of scalability, the proper selection of gem does matter. You can take the support of experienced Ruby on Rails developers and can RoR App Development Company can be contacted for the same.

Use Modular Software

“Don’t repeat yourself” as is the motto of the Ruby on Rails, the modular approach will make much of your task easier. Taking service-oriented architecture which enable developers to optimize load distribution, if it requires in the future, will make the app scale through your purposes.

Garbage Collector

It’s a kind of memory management system and used not just for what its name suggests. Yes, you are in misconception over the name here as it’s just kind of lie -or you can say the name description is limited. Yes, it does pick-up kooky which can be unused or unnecessary code or junk files or others out the trash. But, it is more than what the name suggests. It can keeps your app clean, getting memories from operating system, keeping track of what’s using what and removing it from the store when it is no longer needed.

Along with CRuby, you can try out a few other Ruby such as JRuby and Rubinius. However, the expert says that JRuby has the best performance over the two. Let’s explore it and try for yourself as the performance may differ based on the project you are using for.

Where Do You Save the App State?

Do you leave the app state remain saved on the server? That’s the biggest hurdles in case you are looking for any further optimization of code for horizontal scaling. The easy way to escape this cumbersome issue is to save the state on the client-side. Further scaling will be a lot easier.

Save the app state on the client-side

When the saved state remains on the server, the further optimization of code for horizontal scaling (we’ll discuss the term below) can become more cumbersome. Save the current state on the client-side to avoid optimization issues.

So, we have gone through some of the basic tips which can help us escape the scalability issue of RoR. Now, we will be discussing some of the additional tips to make most out of the scalability.

Alternate Solutions to Database Scalability

In case, you want to lessen the database load time, there are some effective techniques available which can be utilized to make it possible. For example;


It is one of the most important solutions which can provide data quickly to clients from the storehouse. However, it is not directly related to the scalability. Users activities such sessions and log files statistics are complied into the Rails app which can provide the data anytime to users.


Redis used as database along with cache and message and it supports data structure which involves plenty of things such as strings, hashes, lists, sets, sorted sets with range queries, bitmaps, hyperlog logs, geospatial indexes and so much more. It helps to scale the Rails app significantly. It’s an open source in-memory data structure store licensed by BSD.


Being a distributed memory caching system, Memcached helps scale the Rails app by storing the data objects in dynamic memory. It significantly reduces data load time and that help Rails app scale to the extent.

So, we have gone through some of the basic tips which can help us escape the scalability issue of RoR. Now, we will be discussing some of the additional tips to make most out of the scalability.

Vertical Scalability

When it is Ruby on Rails, the handling RPMs is the thing to look to scale the app. Therefore, scaling vertically comes into play here as it is the simplest way to make the server handle an increased number of RPMs. It is all about upgrading RAM by adding more of it, updating the server processor and so much more. That is, on the other, empowering your computer with more power, though it might work well in every situation.

Initially, the vertical scalability may seem to work well, but as the traffic increase, it might not work as good as expected. Ultimately, you are bound to upgrade its computational power. Apart from this, when there is vertical scalability, at some certain time or when you need to scale it, you need to increase the computational resources for some parts, at least.

Facebook, for an example, is the biggest example of it. It needs server which has multi-performance ability: different performance for different purposes. For example, it has multiple tasks which requires to run simultaneously such as news feed, image processing, etc. So, it needs less powerful server for image processing while it requires heavy computation power for news feed.

Horizontal Scalability

When it is horizontal scaling, it will work similarly to how it is done with most other frameworks. This is the way to convert the single server architecture into a three-tier architecture of your app. That involves plenty of things such as Nginx (load balancer), App and database instances. Let’s learn these three components, how it helps in scalability. These three things are used for different purposes which help developers and investors scale through the app when needed. The first one which is NginX, is used for creating cycle to implement and smooth process of multiple requests received by the machine. The second, App instances used for establishing smooth communication between app and Nginx while the third one, Database instances used for scaling through the database. But, they have some loopholes, if used beyond its purpose.

Ruby on Rails 3-Tier Server Architecture


It’s a server software for Ruby on Rails which is most common today as used with a single machine which functions as a load balancer or reverse-proxy.

It requires a little computing power to function well at the time of loads/traffic. Therefore there needs a medium-powered server to make it more useful.

How Nginx Helps RoR App Scale Through

When the initial request received, it will be forwarded to the first machine while Nginx will send the second to request to the second machine and the process will go on as many times as you have the device. Suppose, if you have three machines at the place, then after three requests, it will turn into cycle process, and the fourth request from browser or client will be sent to the first machine, automatically.

App Instances

The additional server is required to run app instances separately, as we have talked earlier. They can access different app instances and make the app more scalable. Using special interfaces such as Rack, the smooth communication between the application and Nginx is established. Besides, using the application server, which is many in number, for Rails-based apps such as Unicorn, Phusion Passenger, and Puma can help application deal the user request seamlessly.

Database Instances

Scaling a database is simply the right way to scale your ROR app effectively. Deploying the database on the same server where the application is deployed. It will be budget-friendly, though it has some drawbacks as well.

  • It will create issues while retrieving data
  • Crate inconvenience for website users
  • Redirecting different app instances can create a problem for the user while signing in
  • Data may not be located as it is saved on different Machine

In short, the database is meant to provide smooth user experience. For example, the database needs to save the received large quantity of data quickly, update the status of receives data quickly and process it to send back to the user. That’s not possible with an ordinary relational MySQL database. It needs advanced version of database such as PostgreSQL or MongoDB (mostly PostgreSQL) to accommodate large quantities of data, if it comes to scale the app.

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Final Word

Scalability of RoR app depends on the projects you are working with. Ruby on Rails may not fit for all types of the app just like one size does not fit for all; the framework may not be suitable for every project in hand. Taking the right analysis, using the right technologies and find the right solutions are some of the most important factors which every developer needs to keep in mind while taking over the projects. There is a scalability issue, but it is inevitable for the developers who don’t like to explore things. There are gems, as made clear by the RoR founder as well, for every issue. All you need to do is to find the right one to get the solutions right on your side.

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    Ronak Patel

    Ronak Patel, the CEO of Aglowid IT Solutions, is a NASSCOM member and a published writer in top tech publications like DZone and Hacker Noon. With a background as a full-stack developer, he brings a wealth of technical expertise. Ronak's marketing acumen complements his technical skills, ensuring the delivery of innovative IT solutions that excel in the market.

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