On Friday of last week, I was onsite with a customer. This is a huge multinational company with an enormous internal development staff. We've been working with them for a while, bringing Ruby and Rails into the production environment. Up until Friday, everything was going very smoothly.
On Friday, we had a meeting with representatives of other development teams in the organization. They'd been sold on Rails; they were ready to start writing their upcoming web apps in it and didn't need me to help them along. But they had a lot of questions, which all boiled down to this: Rails seems nice for web apps, but we can't really do anything else interesting with Ruby, can we?
So for a couple of hours, we sat in a room while they threw questions at me. What do we do about our messaging infrastructure, can we take advantage of it? What about non-Rails db access? We've got some unsupported databases here, what do we do? We rely on certain acceptance testing frameworks, can we still use them? We have huge XML files, can we process them? And on and on.
I can happily report that the answer to every single question was "yes". As we delved deeper into their needs and what they were looking for, they began to see that Ruby isn't just Rails. There's a lot of other capabilities there, and a lot of power waiting to be taken advantage of. Perhaps best of all, they realized that choosing to adopt Ruby didn't mean abandoning their previous investments in Java, .NET or anything else. It meant they had a new arrow in the quiver, and if they fire it at the right targets, they'll get better accuracy.
This is exactly what we believe. Ruby strikes a sweet spot between powerful features and recognizable syntax. It has momentum, a great feature set, and a great interop story. And it doesn't have to take over every piece of the infrastructure to be useful; just the opposite, in fact. This is what we'll be talking about at the Enterprise Ruby Studio; how to build on the momentum generated by Rails and get Ruby working for you in the rest of the enterprise. Come check it out! First run is in September, and seats are filling up.