As Ruby on Rails rose to prominence in the last few years, the platform has faced derision from some programmers over its inability to scale for enterprise applications. Ruby on Rails might be good for making interactive web pages, but it was no C or Java. Benchmark Capital aims to change that with an investment of $3.5 million in New Relic Inc. out of Menlo Park, Calif.
Lew Cirne, the founder of Wily Technology, has created New Relic to do for Ruby on Rails what Wily did for Java 10 years ago. In a nod to the current business environment, New Relic will deliver its Ruby on Rails application management software as a service rather than as shrinkware. Cirne says the fact that the Ruby language ad the Ruby on Rails platform made it a nice target for possible enterprise adoption.
However, the market had changed in other ways and I question if Ruby will gain the same level of prominence that Java has. When Java came out, Sun and IBM pushed it, whereas Ruby and Ruby on Rails has grown very much from the bottom up. Cirne likens Ruby’s rise to the type of adoption that Linux managed to achieve without a corporate backer, but I don’t know if the existence of the Rails framework will make up for the fragmented market.
Today’s programmers can build in PHP or Python. Earlier this month Google launched its Google Apps Engine with support for Python rather than Rails Ruby. So while New Relic may create value, it may not be able to achieve the type of success that Wily managed to grab by focusing on Java.