Here, I want you to take a moment to rewind and understand that in today’s digital world, how technology has made our life so convenient and applications as an integral part helps to lighten the burden, as mentioned in the above scenario. Behind the well-run scene of an application, there is a dedicated web server, the backbone of the application that store, process, and deliver the requested information to the users.
Every other moment, we turn to the web and mobile applications to fetch the information. Over here, processing a minuscule amount of response time can make a big difference. Faster response time to the user’s query can lead to happier users and helps to improve the bottom line of your business.
Ruby on Rails applications are known for its performance. When it comes to the Rails server, it’s a fair game to handle load balancing, manage your apps reverse proxy requests, and fend DoS attacks.
Set the pace for your app’s speed as well as scalability
Choosing a Rails server can help you set the right pace for your application’s speed as well as scalability. As hardware is getting more robust, whereas cloud computing platforms are aiming to replace dedicated servers. There are several popular Rails servers, but here I am going to discuss the three most popular Rails server products that have got significant updates in the past few months. Therefore, I am writing this article to compare Rack – web servers to see if there is an actual slight difference in the performance. Let’s have a look.
Why An App’s Raw Speed is Important?
An application’s raw speed is a factor for the vast majority of the applications. In Ruby’s app servers, the execution time of your HTTP calls, database queries, app code, likely dwarfs the millisecond difference in response times. Puma, Unicorn, and Passenger are plenty fast for almost every Ruby app.
However, I am not pointing out at benchmarked performance metrics. Specifically, those that hammer an app server with hundreds of concurrent requests without throttling (i.e., siege -b) because this is far from a realistic request pattern for almost every web app.
Unicorn: #1 Rails Server
In 2009, when James Pozdena introduced Unicorn, surprisingly, it maintained an average a second response, even at the time of inscribed by concurrent request. James noted that the response time grew by as much as only a second with each concurrent request.
However, as per the Nate Miller Unicorn’s speed was coming at a specific cost. While testing Unicorn as a replacement for a Mongrel deployment was causing a high number of 502 Bad Gateway errors. Miller also noticed a similar drop in average time on Unicorn. On the other hand, Unicorn’s standard deviation for gateways errors surprisingly increased and raised concerns where the speed gains could leave the door open to increased instability.
It is an HTTP server designed for Rack applications to serve fast clients on high-bandwidth connections, low-latency, and leverage the benefits of features in Unix/Unix-like kernels. Whereas, it should serve slow clients by placing a reverse proxy capable. Both the response and request in between unicorn and slow clients.
Passenger: #2 Rails Server
As per the Rails Core Team’s vote, it is the most “preferred way to deploy your Rails applications. After its significant update, the Rails server comes in two flavors: Enterprise and open source. You can integrate this module directly with Apache or NGINX, so you can upload and run your application code with ease.
The most desirable thing is its deployment error resistance, where users can shut down all application processes when they encounter a glitch in an application’s code or a configuration error. The Enterprise edition enables debugging and enhanced monitoring, so it becomes effortless to get the source of an error in real-time. As per the Phusion’s website, over 150,000 top-notch companies are running apps with Passenger.
A modern web server and application server for Ruby, Python, and Node.js, optimized for performance, low memory usage, and ease of use.
Puma: #3 Rails Server
Puma is the best default app server for newly generated Rails apps and on Heroku. It is so easy to configure, and it perfectly works out-of-the-box. For today’s users, it makes sense to start with Puma and evaluate Passenger as your app grows and required configuration options and advanced features.
Puma runs perfectly fine with JRuby or Rubinius as implementations provide true concurrency. Developers preparing for Rails 5, admins report significant speed improvements when combining Puma with NGINX’s proxy functionality. As per the Ruby converts search for Rails servers, programmers have noticed the difference between a system supercharged with Puma and a slow stack.
It is a simple, fast, threaded, and highly concurrent HTTP 1.1 server for Ruby/Rack applications. Puma is advisable to use in both development and production environments.
Unicorn, Passenger and Puma Feature Comparison
|Slow client buffering||No||Yes||Yes|
|Support||Open Source||Open Source||Open Source / Paid|
|Installation||Gem||Gem||Binary or Gem|
As per the Passenger’s recent update addressing speed and stability, Puma offers a lean and fast webserver solution to most applications that need high concurrency. And, it always makes sense to run your application tests and benchmarks. As per the growing ongoing support for Puma, numbers of cloud-based app servers, it has a significantly refreshed version of Mongrel that is so easy to test and enjoy.
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