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Discussion on: How to put a Ruby on Rails application in Maintenance Mode

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

With modern architecture, Maintenance Mode screens should be a rarity and it wouldn't be the Rails app that would serve it.

So this issue which is an old issue comes from way back when people use to do an in-place deployment, meaning they would deploy on a single server.

Now we have blue/green deployment where you can spin up the entirely new infrastructure you can test that environment out and shift traffic that new version or you can use Canary deployment and shift a portion of your traffic until you determine it's stable and shift 100% of the traffic.

If there was a maintenance page What you'd you do is have a health check on the Load Balancer or DNS level and that would then failover to a static page.

The problem with having a maintenance page in your Rails app is the rails app can be a point of failure which can totally happen when you're upgrading Rails versions or gems.

Now if you want to serve a maintenance page in-place you would be better of changing your Nginx or apache configuration rather than serve a Sinatra app. That's what this gem does which is a bit overkill and itself can be a point of failure for the maintenance page.

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nhh profile image
Niklas

This is most probably an completely overengineered solution. Good old maintenance pages do their job pretty well. Not all companies are google..

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nhh profile image
Niklas

Its a tragedy that every company thinks they have to provide a 99,99 Uptime without anyone noticing a maintenance phase. This is so unhealthy and promotes the illusion that maintenance comes at no cost 😩 For the average user a maintenance page is very acceptable..

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

It takes 5 seconds to set up a health check in Route53 on AWS to have it failover to a static page. (maintenance page) You click a couple of buttons and put in an address you want to failover if the target is not healthy.

It takes 3-10 mins to set up that static maintenance page via static website hosting. You could use Github pages or anything you like for this static page.

Blue/Green comes pretty much out of the box with many cloud providers. All of AWS deployment methods makes it dead simple to use Blue/Green to avoid downtime.

In the Rails community even if you wanted to do In-Place we have had Capistrano and Unicorn that it was standard practice to use no-downtime deploy method which is nearly 10 years old.

I would have screenshot all the steps here which took me all of 5 mins to put together but Dev.to image uploads on comments are currently experiencing issues.

This is so unhealthy and promotes the illusion that maintenance comes at no cost

With a little bit of learning, maintenance does come at a reduced cost. Once you know how simple it is, you'll question yourself doing it the old way. Let the old way dies, we are trying to build rockets to mars

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nhh profile image
Niklas

The truth is, not every body rely on aws.

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

And you don't need to use AWS, it has become common functionality among all Cloud Providers and for those who don't want to use one of the big three there are a variety of 3rd party solutions.

The truth is the only reason for not doing is not knowing or old habits.

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nhh profile image
Niklas

I dont think the only reason is knowing or old habits. Some people just explicitly decide against complexity when it is useful. You are generalising about all environments irrespective of the requirements. And beneath aws, azure and google cloud there arent that many providers who sell such advanced features. Even Heroku has this wonderful pragmatic feature „maintenance pages“ so please accept that for some people maintenance pages are useful and a decision rather than the lack of knowledge or old habits...

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦 • Edited

Herkou can do both failovers and blue/green and yes you can do maintenance pages for those who don't know yet how easy to use these modern features. It's not complex.

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Drew Bragg

I gotta go with Andrew on this one. I use Digital Ocean for my servers and Capistrano to deploy my rails apps. With next to zero config I can deploy an update to any of my apps with zero downtime and if anything was to go wrong with a deployment cap has a built in method to rollback to a previous deployment.

Maybe a maintenance mode could be needed for a different framework but I really can't see anyone needing to put their Rails app into maintenance mode to deploy an update.

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nhh profile image
Niklas

Yeah, Capistrano is great, Zero-Downtime is great and Blue/Green too. Keep using what fits your needs ✌️