BlueDragon.NET and MySpace.Com: An Interview with New Atlanta

 
Jul 20, 2005
By Judith Dinowitz

At CFUNITED, I sat down with Charlie Arehart and Dan Gantner of New Atlanta, to discuss New Atlanta's announcement that MySpace, the 5th most heavily trafficked site on the Internet, had moved from ColdFusion 5 to BlueDragon.NET. The New Atlanta team painted me a picture of a site that was growing so fast, it couldn't keep up with the rapid pace of its development and needed to move to a more scalable technology. MySpace chose the .NET platform, and decided to keep their current CFML codebase intact by moving everything over to BlueDragon.NET.

These are the events, as related to me by New Atlanta:

"They [MySpace] originally developed on CF5 and tried to upgrade to CFMX, but had problems with reliability of the JDBC drivers," said Gantner. MySpace approached New Atlanta initially to investigate Jturbo, New Atlanta's JDBC driver for connecting to Microsoft SQL Server, and realized that BlueDragon might be the answer to their problems.

"To put this into perspective, MySpace handles a load of 20,000 transactions a second," said Gantner. "They could not run CFMX. They concluded that ColdFusion couldn't handle it." MySpace is a large social networking site, popular with people between the ages of 16 and 24. Members of the site can upload and share photos and files, and the MySpace user base uploads half a million files a day. Gantner compared their situation to Friendster, a site that was also very big but died because it grew too fast and couldn't scale properly.

MySpace was happy with the rapid development and productivity of the CFML language, but decided to move to a .NET platform for better scalability. They realized that instead of abandoning their original CFML codebase and rewriting everything in ASP or C#, they could simply port their CFML code to BlueDragon.NET.

Now MySpace has 5,000 CFML templates running on BlueDragon.NET.

One might take from the MySpace story the idea that BlueDragon.NET is inherently better than ColdFusion MX or ColdFusion MX 7, but this history proves nothing of the sort. The only comparison we could possibly make here is between ColdFusion 5 and BlueDragon.NET, and I'm sure we all agree that BlueDragon.NET (or J2EE) is better than ColdFusion 5. We don't know why MySpace was having problems with the JDBC drivers on CFMX, nor is it clear what they did to solve the problem or what other factors were involved. All we know is that they were on ColdFusion 5, had problems moving to MX (which could have had as much to do with their code or environment as anything) and decided to move to .NET.

So, yes, if you're already making the move to .NET, BlueDragon.NET is a good way to keep your CFML alive. That's the lesson I take from this story.

New Atlanta also spoke of three ways in which they support their developer community:

  1. New Atlanta is developing a set of tools to help other companies and individuals who are facing the same issues as MySpace. The first of these tools, "The Profiler," was previewed at the CFUNITED keynote. The BlueDragon Profiler examines the performance of CFML applications in great detail, down to the execution of individual tags. One can use it to analyze and fixing performance problems, or to fine-tune CFML applications, such as MySpace, where maximum performance is critical.
  2. "BlueDragon Server" is free for both development and deployment of BlueDragon applications, where the developer edition of CFMX is free only for development on localhost plus two external IPs. All other editions of BlueDragon--BlueDragon Server JX, BlueDragon/J2EE, and BlueDragon.NET--are free for development on a single IP. New Atlanta has put up a feature matrix that describes all BlueDragon editions at http://www.newatlanta.com/products/bluedragon/product_info/features.cfm.
  3. BlueDragon is the only ColdFusion engine that allows CFML developers to work on either J2EE or .NET. New Atlanta believes this is very important. "It's a two-horse race today: J2EE and .NET," Gantner says. "In small companies [defined as companies with less than 5,000 employees], .NET already has 61% of the market." Gantner gets this figure from a Forrester survey published on Sept. 1, 2004. (See Figure 1: .NET vs. J2EE in Small Companies, below.)

Figure 1: .NET vs. J2EE in Small Companies

You can find more about this survey at http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/Excerpt/0,7211,35261,00.html.

Gantner also cites a more recent Forrester study, published June 29, 2005 (http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/Excerpt/0,7211,37266,00.html). This survey states that "The overall adoption trends for Java/J2EE and Microsoft .NET are stable. Aggregating data from all sizes of businesses, .NET's use for mission-critical applications is higher than Java's. Most of .NET's comparative strength is in small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) and small enterprises; adoption of .NET and Java is effectively the same for medium-size and large enterprises." By giving developers a choice, New Atlanta is trying to expand the scope and reach of CFML applications and to keep people who would normally go to .NET in CFML.

One of the feelings at the conference was that Microsoft was using Blue Dragon as a proxy to convert ColdFusion users over to .NET. (You'll see some of that in the blog entries listed at the bottom of this article, as well as in our CFUNITED Wrap-up article.) While this is a valid concern, throughout the interview, New Atlanta stated their concern for the ColdFusion community. "What is New Atlanta all about?" asked Arehart. "The core CFML language. The CFML community." And by creating these toolsets, the free versions of BlueDragon as well as the .NET version -- New Atlanta has shown that they are interested and invested in the ColdFusion community.

For more information on New Atlanta's announcement from their perspective, you can check out Vince Bonfanti's blog entry, New Atlanta/MySpace Keynote at CFUNITED 5) (July 4, 2005)

The picture would not be complete without a full reading of the blogs, with their positive and negative analysis of the announcement:

The MySpace.com Cowboys (Barney Boisvert, July 1, 2005)

Barney Makes Good Points (CF_Objective, July 1, 2005)

The New Atlanta Haters (reybango.com, July 1, 2005)

MySpace.com, Blue Dragon and CFML (Matt Woodward's Blog, July 4, 2005)

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