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If I understand things correctly if using only one mongrel instance then if you get a request that takes a while (like a shopper in line with a large amount of goods) Then the other requests have to wait in line for the first to finish. So running another mongrel instance opens another "line for customers to be serviced."

We have a team of around 10 frequently accessing the site mongrel is serving.

Is there a downside of running 10 mongrel instances? For practical purposes what would be a good amount for 10 frequent users?

This is being proxied through Apache (SSL) via a load balancer.

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It really depends on your application. If the requests are small, then 10 mongrels should not be a problem. But if you have longer running requests, then stuff might queue up when all the mongrels are busy handling a request. The amount of users doesn't really matter, since one browser could do 10 requests simultaneously and if the requests are taking to long, take up all the capacity. But, when you're requests are not long, then you should be fine. I serve around 2000 requests a second (that are around 7-15 ms) with 10 instances behind a proxy_balancer. Next to that, your application will not become unavailable when all mongrels are busy, but response times will not be optimal. If you can handle that (user perception), than you're fine too. I would suggest to monitor your application and the response times and take it from there. If you can spare the amount of RAM every mongrel uses, just start with 10. If you need more mongrels, increase, if you need less, decrease.

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