Something For Nothing



Do you like free things? Would you like to get something for nothing? Are you a Sidekiq user? If you answered yes to these questions, I have a case study in how one customer effectively got Sidekiq Enterprise for free.

One Friday morning, two engineers jumped into my weekly Happy Hour to ask me about a Sidekiq problem they were having.

“We have two Sidekiq dynos with 40 threads each: we find that after about 5 minutes, they are only using about 20 threads; shouldn’t all 40 threads pick up jobs? The jobs perform image processing.”

bundle exec sidekiq -c 40

They were using two Heroku performance-m dynos, which cost $250/month each.

MRI has a Limit

If you are a Ruby expert, you might already have an idea of what’s going wrong but the crux is this: one MRI process will only use a single core. Now consider image processing is often CPU intensive. They were crushing a single core on each performance-m dyno while the rest of the cores sat there doing nothing. Those extra 20 threads weren’t lazy – they literally couldn’t get any CPU time scheduled!

Multi-Process to the Rescue

The answer was easy since they were a Sidekiq Enterprise customer:

bundle exec sidekiqswarm -c 20

sidekiqswarm is a special binary which forks a Sidekiq process for each core on the dyno. We reduce the thread count so each core isn’t crushed by image processing.

In summary:

Before After
Dynos 2 1
Threads 80 (2 x 40) 80 (4 x 20)
Core usage 50% 100%
Cost $500 $250 + $179
Savings $71/mo

Before they had 1 busy core and 3 idle cores on each dyno. Now they have 4 busy cores and can spin down the second dyno instance to save $250/mo. Since Sidekiq Enterprise costs $179/mo, this change paid for Sidekiq Enterprise, saved an additional $71/mo and ensured that future worker dynos are fully utilized.

If you are using Performance dynos and not using Sidekiq Enterprise, you are likely paying for too many dynos. Purchasing Sidekiq Enterprise and using sidekiqswarm to reduce your dyno count may cover the entire purchase price. You get all the Sidekiq Pro and Enterprise features effectively for free. Each sale has a 14 day money back guarantee if you want to try it today.