Blog on All Things Cloud Foundry

Mandrill—a Free SMTP Server for Applications

Olga Belokurskaya

Transactional e-mails are important part of any project or business, no matter if it’s a startup or a big company. But if corporations can afford the huge mailouts and the costs of big mail distribution services, startups usually look for cheaper options.

Mandrill by MailChimp is one of such options. It is a transactional mail distribution service that allows for sending up to 12,000 free e-mails per month. If you need more, there are various affordable pricing options. Mandrill supports SPF and DKIM records ensuring your emails won’t be regarded as spam by the most of e-mail services. Moreover, it allows for tracking e-mail statuses, such as sent, bounced, received, clicked, marked as spam, etc. It also supports templates and special tags for A/B testing, which is an advantage.

Please, have a look at the full overview of the service by our specialist Eugene Melnikov, following this link:

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Let’s Test It Well (and Simply, and Smartly)

Olga Belokurskaya

If you are fond of testing, just like our Ruby Developer Nastia Shaternik, you’ll probably be interested to read her post about using RSpec. There, she dwells on how some RSpec features that are not commonly used can help you simplify testing and make tests clearer.

Learn how to make your tests readable as short documentation. Find out how using mock_model can make your tests run faster, see an example of using RSpec’s built-in expectations, get two strategies of sharing the same data among different examples, and more.

You may read the full Nastia’s posting, following this link:

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DigitalOcean—a New Amazing Cloud VPS Hosting

Olga Belokurskaya

DigitalOcean—a new cloud VPS hosting—being pretty cheap and easy to use can become one of the solutions that may interest startups, small and fast-growing projects.

The service provides a comparatively affordable pricing, starting from 5$/month, and bills hourly. This combines with ease of use: all you need is to get a dedicated IP and root access to your server, and you can start working; the control panel is plain and simple. DigitalOcean uses SSD hard drives and fast network that provide speed to servers’ work. Moreover, the service boldly promises a 99.99% uptime around network, power and virtual server availability.

Combine this all, and you’ll get an interesting solution to think about. But are there any pitfalls? For more detail, please, read the wide DigitalOcean overview by our Ruby Developer Eugene Melnikov:


Winter RubyGardens Graduation: Welcome, Eight New Rubyists!

Olga Belokurskaya

We are proud to announce the latest RubyGardens Graduation. The winter course has finished with a success: we’ve got eight new established Rubyists ready to start their new career.

Time passed sweepingly through all the sprints, Scrum-meetings, iterations, code review, and parties, as if weeks of studies fused into a single stream of events. Our former students still have a lot to learn, but the information we managed to squeeze in our students’ heads will soon turn into real experience and professionalism.

The graduation has been celebrated with Ruby AntiParty—a symbolic initiation of newly created developers in the Ruby world.

Furthermore, we have prepared a new educational project, a resource named “I am a Rubyist”, which was developed by the students as part of the training program. It is an open source platform for all Ruby geeks to communicate and share their ideas. The resource is coming very soon. Just stay tuned for the official announcement.

Let’s welcome again our graduates! The next RubyGardens course is coming.

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The Cloud Revolutionizes Business and Makes Life Better

Olga Belokurskaya

At the end of September, Michael Crandell, the CEO and a founder of RightScale, spoke at TEDxSanLuisObispo event focused on the theme “The Power of Community”.

Michael’s presentation was dedicated to the cloud and the ways it affects today’s business. It was named “The Cloud Imperative”, which, according to Michael, implied thinking seriously about how one could use the potential of the resources, provided by the cloud, in making the world better.

Today the cloud affects our life, indeed, making real the things that were impossible some ten years ago, though most of us don’t even think of it. But look at some examples given by Michael.


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Zynga Goes Cross-Platform with Adobe AIR

Olga Belokurskaya

Zynga, the world’s widely known provider of social gaming services, has recently announced a mobile version of their popular game Ruby Blast, making it available not only across different social platforms, but mobile, as well.

This was made possible with the help of Adobe AIR, a cross-platform runtime that allows for building RIAs that can be run either as browser apps, or desktop, or mobile, and support numerous operating systems.

This Zynga’s move affected the game impressively. Since October, when Ruby Blast was made cross-platform, there was a surge in the number of the game active players, according to the graph provided in an article at, which currently counts 2.3 million.

“Porting a Flash game to a mobile application with Adobe AIR helped Zynga to increase their audience twofold and without having a lot to do. The great thing about AIR is that you don’t have to rewrite applications to run them across different platforms,” says Valery Pesetski, the Head of Flex Development at Altoros and the leader of a local Adobe User Group. “AIR runtime enables developers to take RIAs out of browser borders, making them look and work as native desktop or mobile apps. It helps to reach a wider audience and shortens the development time, as you don’t have to write different pieces of code for different versions of an app.”

Valery has a extensive experience in Flex development. Being a part of our development team, he contributed into many Altoros’ Flex projects, including cross-platform development with AIR, as well.


A Vendor-Independent Comparison of NoSQL Databases: Cassandra, HBase, MongoDB, and Riak

Olga Belokurskaya

In 2010, when the world became enchanted by the capabilities of cloud systems and new databases designed to serve them, a group of researchers from Yahoo decided to look into NoSQL. The results were published in the paper, “Benchmarking Cloud Serving Systems with YCSB.” The Yahoo guys did a great job, but like any paper, it could not include everything.

In 2012, the number of NoSQL products reached 120-plus and the figure is still growing. That variety makes it difficult to select the best tool for a particular case. Database vendors usually measure productivity of their products with custom hardware and software settings designed to demonstrate the advantages of their solutions.

As R&D engineers at Altoros, a big data specialist, we were inspired by Yahoo’s endeavors and decided to add some effort of our own. This article is our vendor-independent analysis of NoSQL databases, based on performance measured under different system workloads. It’s an unbiased research to complement the work done by the folks at Yahoo.

Using Amazon virtual machines to ensure verifiable results and research transparency, we have analyzed and evaluated the following NoSQL solutions:

We also tested MySQL Cluster and sharded MySQL, taking them as benchmarks.

The aim of this investigation is to determine the best use cases for different NoSQL products.

Read about the results of the investigation in the article on NetworkWorld.

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Overview of the Cross-Platform Development Tools

Olga Belokurskaya

On May 22, 2012, Alexey Karpik, Web Platform Developer at Altoros, participated as a guest-speaker at GOTO Copenhagen where he presented a session dedicated to Cross-Platform development. In the presentation named “Cross-Platform Tools: Build once and Run Everywhere,” he analyzed tools and frameworks that are available on the market.

Alexey started with an overview of the most popular mobile platforms, describing their shares in the market. He proceeded by observing five types of tools that can be used for building cross-platform applications, including: JavaScript libraries, wrappers around web applications, native code transformers, frameworks, and Adobe AIR tools. Furthermore, Alexey compared the pros and cons of different types of cross-platform development tools.


Want details? Watch the video!

Here’s the slide deck presented by Alexey.

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Webinar: Project Management Efficiency with TFS 11

Olga Belokurskaya

On February 1, 2012, Petr Pruidze, Lead .NET Architect at Altoros with 7.5 years’ experience in MS .NET application development, continued a series of webinars launched by Altoros. The webinar aimed at discovering ways to improve project management efficiency with new TFS 11 functionality.

Petr spoke on how to prioritize, plan, develop, and get feedback during each stage of a project. The key moments he dwelt on included:

  • How to avoid prioritizing mess-up with the help of drag-n-drop functionality
  • How to manage your Scrum dashboards faster
  • How to track time easily with Web-based tools for MS TFS, such as TX Chrono
  • How to make your project planning more convenient

Furthermore, Petr answered multiple questions about TX Chrono, including, work items and custom columns in the timesheet, spoke about process of source control using TFS and the various iterations in a Scrum methodology, technologies used to rewrite TFS, and many more.

Watch the Webinar.

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NoSQL Options Compared—Different Horses for Different Courses

Olga Belokurskaya

On December 22, 2011, Sergey Bushik, the developer at Altoros, spoke at Silicon Valley Big Data Meetup (Sunnyvale, CA) devoted to NoSQL.

Having experience in developing with and evaluating NoSQL solutions, Sergey presented a comparative review of various types of NoSQL databases available, outlined best use cases for each, and dwelt on how to choose the optimal variant out of existing options. Besides, Sergey recapped some recommendations and good approaches, and gave attention to some lessons that were learnt from the actual usage of NoSQL.

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Benchmarks and Research

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