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Best technology stack: tradeoff between rapid prototyping and scaleability

I'm working on building a SaaS product. Right now I'm trying to decide on what technologies to use as the basis for my software. I'm considering both a pure open source approach, such as MongoDB + Rails, as well as just going with a platform provider like Google App Engine or AWS.

What combination of technologies do you think represents the best tradeoff between rapid prototyping and scalability?

Is vendor or platform lock-in something I should remotely worry about at this stage?

20 Replies

Eric Rogness
0
2
Eric Rogness Entrepreneur
Technical Product Manager
Aren't you surrounded by expert opinions at Amazon?
Harshit Rastogi
2
0
Harshit Rastogi Entrepreneur
Breaking the barrier of being #ordinary
i enjoy prototyping with Rails +mongodb and deploy on heroku (just few commands to deploy) .

As far as scaling is concerned , Rails can go quite a long way and if it becomes an issue then you may have enough funding by that time .

Is you are javascript lover then MEAN(mongo,express,angular,node.js) is another stack to follow.
Douglas Tarr
1
0
Douglas Tarr Entrepreneur • Advisor
Entrepreneur and Software Architect
Rails + Heroku + Postgres still can't be beat for this. You can get started with a free hobby plan + $20 / mo for SSL.

You can stand up a new SaaS product in week or so, prototype a lot of features, and rely on a large and mature set of libraries that can help you scale.

If you are doing a sophisiticated mobile platform, perhaps you could consider Mongo/Node etc but those aren't as full featured.

You can also pretty much pay for scale via Heroku for a long time without having to develop for it. This is really valuable in an early stage startup. It can get expensive once your traffic starts growing, but you can always invest in development to improve that later.
Lawrence I Lerner
3
0
Lawrence I Lerner Entrepreneur • Advisor
Digitalization and Transformation Coach
Dan, your technology stack should be "fit to purpose." Even among the open source NoSQL DB (Mongo) there are many choices.

What does your product do? Scaleable could mean a lot of things. Big data files sent regularly? Streaming small packets? Complex or simple user interface? Business rules attached?

Could you give us a few points so we can help point you in a direction?
Chris Phenner
0
0
Chris Phenner Entrepreneur
Director, Enterprise Sales @ Gimbal
This article addressesthe 'MongoDB vs. MongoLab' portion of your question, but may help you think through it. Not being technical I cannot 'weigh in full,' but I do want to see how this plays out and wonder if PaaS providers like Heroku, Parse and others of their ilk might arise in others' responses -- it's a great (and likely never-really-answered) question.
Chris Phenner
0
0
Chris Phenner Entrepreneur
Director, Enterprise Sales @ Gimbal
Sorry. My embedded URL in my original post was stripped by the listserv. http://mrdanadams.com/2012/mongohq-mongolab-mongodb-customer-service/#.UzRUf61dWod Again: This article only looks at options within the 'hosted Mongo' providers (and is now a year old).
Panos Kougiouris
2
0
Panos Kougiouris Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder at NeatSchool
Hi Dan, Assuming you are not the technology person, I would say that the key factor is to pick the platform that your technology team feels more comfortable with. All the choices you mentioned are reasonable ones, pick the one where your team believes they can execute faster. If you are successful and you are still on one of these platforms, it might be old news in a few years anyways... Just make sure your CTO has enough stake and business thinking that she/he will not jump to the next sexier stack at that point. Lock-in is something you should remotely worry about, but only remotely. In my experience, there is never time to change the platform/vendors etc so in theory the more sources you have for your choices the better but probably these are options you will not exercise. In my lean startup, I picked Google App Engine because despite the partial lock-in it shaved tons of time and expenses on the DevOps front. There have been frustrations along the way but none big enough to justify changing the vendor altogether. --Panos
Kate Hiscox
0
1
Kate Hiscox Entrepreneur • Advisor
Boss at Venzee
We used an initial hackathon session to work on measuring our skills as a team and to ascertain how we worked together, did we even like each other etc. For this purpose, we went the Heroku route (our stack is MEAN).

However, I think once you've achieved your objectives for your prototype whether its customer validation, funding, team building, you need to move to your long term architecture/hosting. We're going with AWS as we have considerable data storage and transfer needs and once you start transferring data out of the AWS family, you're into increased costs.
Tim Scott
0
0
Tim Scott Entrepreneur • Advisor
President, Lunaverse Software
+1 for Rails + Heroku + Postgres.

I would avoid noSQL unless you've put have a lot of thought to know it's a noSQL-shaped problem. Rails takes most of the pain out of the OOP-relational mismatch and let's your rapidly and easily morph your model and schema.

Heroku removes most of the devops work and pain. Devops is pure cost and time sink with no value prior to product-market fit and scaling. Yes, you will get "locked in," what with all the lovely add-ins. And yes, Heroku will cost too much eventually. But it's unlikely you will feel that until long after you have the resources to deal with it.

What you do need is pretty darn good senior Rails dev, and those are hard to find/afford.

You can discount my answer by the fact that Rails is the hammer I know. I don't know Google App Engine. Maybe you can more easily find someone to make a nice prototype with that.
Sergio Bayona
1
0
Sergio Bayona Entrepreneur
Ruby on Rails Consultant
I've hear the word "prototyping" used in multiple ways. One is developing a product front-end without backend logic. The other is, developing a quick app with front and back end. On the later, it is generally assumed that the code isn't well thought off, not meant for production, let alone engineered for future growth. In other words throw-away code. It is important to make sure everyone agrees on the meaning of prototyping.

I know of a startup were the founder thought he was getting the well-engineered software, the managers called it a "prototype" (but they really meant production grade software) and the developers were delivering throw-away code. When they finally realized the mistake they'd wasted 6 months.
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