According to Gartner, the number of Ruby On Rails developers will grow to some 4 million by 2013. While many of these will be hobbyists, Gartner believes the largest area of growth will be inside the firewall. There's one problem. Until recently, there have not been any instrumentation or management tools, which IT shops see as a vital ingredient in getting things done. Enter FiveRuns, funded to the tune of $9 million by Austin Ventures.
FiveRuns is offering a hosted management service at $40 per server per month. Its Manage service lets users monitor performance deep into the application, helping developers understand how their application is impacted by databases, operating systems and other web services.
Today, FiveRuns claims 95 customers. I spoke with Investment Instruments, which is developing real estate solutions for the rental market. Its marquee offering for landlords is Rentomatic, which is used by landlords to manage rental units. Its other offering is Rentometer, a service that is designed to provide valuation transparency into the rental market for both landlords and tenants.
They say the value FiveRuns delivers comes from Investment Instruments developers' ability to get visibility into the Rails environment without having to chase down server logs or find a support person. In other words, the developers can act as environment managers. Investment Instruments also says that FiveRuns gives them the means to take actions on flow queries which they see as an important part of what they need to do in order to optimize a complex environment that also includes integration to legacy systems. Net-net it means time and money saved in the development process.
FiveRuns' goal is to become a complete Rails management provider but this is not necessarily going to be an easy nut to crack inside the enterprise. I spoke with industry analyst Michael Coté of Redmonk who said: "There is going to be a Rails explosion but there is no assured way to launch a scalable solution to the management problem. Right now, you've got to get the attention of the person who is deeply into Rails rather than thinking about the enterprise and that means entering the conversations that are going on in and around the Rails community. If FiveRuns can help stop developers shooting themselves in the performance foot then they're going to get that attention."
This is a space that is wide open but as noted, we are very early in the game. There is nothing to stop a Tivoli or CA from breezing into the space and attempting to eat FiveRuns lunch. My belief is that it is the vendor that successfully builds up the conversational community with Rails users that will outrun any incumbent player that tries to flip into this space.