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The Ultimate Guide to Scaling in the Cloud

In the cloud, businesses can scale easily and drive operational efficiency, managing shifting computing requirements with cloud’s flexible resources. Compared to traditional, local infrastructure, cloud-based infrastructure is much more versatile due to its scalable nature.

Scalability describes the cloud’s capability to cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload. A business can purchase temporary access to processing power or storage necessary to complete certain business projects or accommodate rapid growth. And at the end of the project, the business can then release those additional resources with no further payment obligation. That’s how scalability works, and small and large organizations alike can benefit from this cloud characteristic.

For a lot of organizations, the ability to scale is essential. Infrastructure is expensive, and cloud computing helps businesses avoid these costs while maintaining the ability to scale in any situation. Businesses will find that this boosts overall efficiency because they can suddenly take advantage of more projects and opportunities. In the cloud, they have access to the infrastructure needed and free up the budget to support these opportunities. And when a business can suddenly say yes to more opportunities, it will probably experience an increase in ROI too. Work will be completed faster without the need to invest in new infrastructure, and businesses can suddenly work above their usual capacity.

There are two types of scaling: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical scaling is the ability to scale by adding more resources, like CPU, memory or storage, to a single system. This is the good old-fashioned way, as all you’re thinking about is: let’s add more memory. Let’s add more CPU. Let’s just make it bigger! This is also called “scaling up.” Now, vertical scaling is relatively easy. You simply request more, and get more. Resources can come and go easily and quickly. However, this type of scaling is somewhat limited. There’s a finite upper-end of being able to scale, based on machine limits – in other words, you can add or subtract resources as long as you don’t exceed the capacity of the machine itself. This might cause a business to choose the biggest option available, so it won’t easily hit the capacity limits. The Achilles heel of vertical scaling is that everything is running on a single machine, so the resources are reliant on its components alone. A business doesn’t experience additional reliability or availability, but it beefs up its servers and avoids latency and extra management.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is horizontal scaling, or the ability to scale by adding more machines. By adding more servers to the mix, they all share part of the load. This is also called “scaling out.” The Achilles heel of horizontal scaling is that it’s more difficult and takes more time. However, businesses essentially experience the possibility of unlimited scalability with this type of scaling. Organizations can handle far more users and experience more durability because they’re working off multiple machines. And the parts of your architecture that will scale more linearly, like Web traffic, may be better suited for horizontal scaling. Linear scaling refers to the concept that fundamentally, if you add twice as many machines, you’ll get twice as much throughput (give or take).

Enabling Pay As You Go

Cloud computing helps businesses avoid paying from scratch for a service they only use for a certain period of time. This applies to seasonal businesses especially, which can access the resources they need in peak seasons and then reduce these in the off season by moving to the cloud. Scalability and the cloud’s common pay-as-you-go model helps businesses better control their spending and improve their profit margin, as they are no longer overspending on resources.

Think about it in terms of using cloud software. Maybe when you get started with the application, you have 100 users who need access, so you pay for 100 users. Should this need drop to only 75 users, you suddenly only pay for 75. Scalability in the cloud makes it easy to scale up and down, add or remove users, and change billing efficiently. And the cost efficiency doesn’t only apply to the number of users you add. It can apply to storage space and computing power as well, because these are certainly needs that fluctuate over time.

Cloud computing is an economical and scalable answer to businesses’ ever-changing needs. Start our RapidScale Certification Courses to learn about important cloud topics, like scalability, and boost your cloud and technology knowledge.

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