Recently Matt Aimonetti wrote an insightful article about Rails and the Enterprise. In it he identifies five core Enterprise application needs:
Advantage over the competition
Integration and transition path
Matt then proceeds to illustrate how Rails does a good job in regards to most of these points, despite a few existing challenges.
Among these challenges, I can clearly see the following:
There isn’t a 1-800-RAILS number; the community may be great, but there are not exactly yearly contracts in place. Furthermore, the author of the Ruby driver for, say, Oracle doesn’t owe you a thing. He may or may not be there for you when you need something to be fixed quickly.
XML support is less than ideal (but it is improving).
Integration with the Enterprise world is not easy, due in part to less than stellar SOAP support (but that is also improving).
If you’re taking advantage of ActiveRecord and an Enterprise database like Oracle, your DBA isn’t likely to be happy that you aren’t using prepared statements.
You may think these are small points, and in the startup world they generally are. However, in the Enterprise world they do make the difference between adoption and niche.
One thing that Matt forgot to mention is DB2, which should be the poster child for how Rails can be Enterprise ready. And as a bonus, you get to throw around IBM’s name (which is synonymous with Enterprise) because Rails is both supported by, and used within, IBM.
Let’s address each point above with DB2 on Rails in mind.
IBM is the only database vendor to provide a Ruby driver and ActiveRecord/Rails adapter for its databases. This means that you have a team that’s accountable when things don’t work as they’re supposed to. This team is accountable, regardless of whether you have a contract with IBM or not; it’s their job, not a hobby. This involvement with Rails dates back to 2006, with continuing releases and improvements ever since. Our IBM’s optional yearly 24/7 support contracts (e.g., for less than $3000 a year per server with DB2 Express-C) include support for DB2 on Rails as well.
DB2 supports native storage and querying of XML documents and data (plus it’s fast). This technology is known as pureXML.
DB2 can both consume and serve SOAP web services. This lets DB2 do the integration for you.
DB2 on Rails supports parameterized queries. (While on the subject of queries, if you are using JRuby you can take advantage of pureQuery, which is an IBM created Enterprise solution that’s aimed at making your queries fast, reliable, manageable and easy to debug.)
If you are trying to introduce Rails into your Enterprise job, chances are that DB2 will already be present within the company infrastructure. If not, you can use DB2 Express-C which is entirely free — thus making it easier to introduce than an expensive solution.
IBM is one of the most trusted brands on the market today, as it has been for decades now. Banks and Enterprise companies the world over trust DB2 with their most critical data. One way for the Rails community to increase the adoption of Rails in the Enterprise, is to acknowledge and embrace the great pair that is Rails and DB2.
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Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and AI Evangelist at IBM. He authored Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers (Wrox, 2009) and Technical Blogging ( The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2012, 2019). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to over 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.