Your In-Depth Guide to Cloud Scalability

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Scalability at your fingertips.

More organizations are moving to the cloud today, and it’s estimated that 94 percent of companies in the world have a presence on the cloud. Despite these numbers, the cloud market is still expected to grow at a rate of 16.3 percent until 2026. I could list many reasons why companies choose to move to the cloud. One of the more important reasons is cloud scalability.

Why is scalability in cloud computing so attractive? What is it really, and what are its advantages? Read on as I give you the answers to these questions and more. Let’s start with defining what cloud scalability is.

What Is Cloud Scalability?

Cloud scalability is the ability to increase or decrease the use of cloud resources, based on the demands of your business. You can do this scaling quickly and seamlessly. This is why cloud scalability is a big deal for many businesses.

So, how does this scalability in cloud computing work? And why is the same not possible with an on-premises infrastructure? This is where virtual machines (VMs) come into play. Next, let’s talk about how cloud scalability works with regard to these VMs.

Cloud Scalability and Virtual Machines

VMs are the basic computing resource on the cloud. To elaborate, a physical machine is typically divided into many “virtual,” or logical machines, using virtualization software. Each VM has its own operating system and functions independently of other VMs. 

The biggest advantage of these VMs is that they’re only logical separations. This means you can move them between physical machines, increase/decrease them, and more. If your business needs more computing resources, you can simply add more VMs. Likewise, if your business needs to scale back, you can reduce the number of VMs. All of this happens through software, so you don’t have the barrier of physical movement stopping you. Because VMs are the core component of cloud architecture, it makes cloud scalability very easy.

Also, all cloud service providers have the necessary hardware and software to increase VMs instantly. Due to these reasons, the cloud is highly scalable, which results in many benefits for organizations. I’ll  go over some of those now.

Benefits of Cloud Scalability

As mentioned earlier, easy scalability is one of the biggest reasons for people to adopt the cloud. So, how does this scalability translate to a positive impact for business? Here are some important benefits of cloud scalability that could have a big impact on any organization.

Ideality for All Businesses

Cloud scalability creates a level playing field for all businesses, regardless of their size. Earlier, only businesses that could afford capital investments could make the most of technological advancements and speeds. But with the cloud, any organization can offer the same speeds and leverage the latest technologies.

Convenience

The biggest selling point for scalability in cloud computing is convenience. You don’t need to put in any additional effort beyond a few mouse clicks to add more computing resources for your needs. This saves time and effort for everyone and, at the same time, it provides your organization with what it needs to grow to the next level.

Cost Savings

Other than time and effort, cloud scalability can also help save costs, as you don’t need any upfront capital expenses. You’ll only pay more fees for the additional resources you consume. Undoubtedly, this additional cost won’t add to your company’s burden

Backup and Recovery

With cloud scalability, backups are automatic, and they’re not affected by things such as natural disasters. Cloud service providers tend to offer data redundancy by having backups spread across multiple geographic locations, so the chances for total data loss are negligible. You can recover your data at any time from the cloud.

Thus, these are some benefits that come with scalability in cloud computing. 

Moving on, this idea of cloud scalability is often confused with elasticity, but in reality, they’re two completely different aspects. I’ll discuss this further in the next section.

Cloud Elasticity vs Cloud Scalability

Cloud elasticity and cloud scalability may sound like synonyms, but from a cloud service standpoint, they mean two different things. An elastic cloud service increases or decreases the available resources dynamically to match an organization’s needs. For example, if you have a sudden spike in your web traffic due to a successful social media campaign, an elastic cloud will adjust its resources in real-time to service this spike.

Scalability, on the other hand, refers to a planned increase or decrease in cloud resources because of anticipated changes to your business. In this sense, cloud scalability is more permanent and long-term, while cloud elasticity is a temporary fix for sudden changes. 

So, cloud scalability and elasticity are important aspects, but your company’s needs and goals will determine if you need both.

Next, let’s see the different types of scaling options available, so you can decide on the optimal one for your business.

Types of Cloud Scalability

Image of a man jumping off piles of coins.
Scale up and down in the cloud!

Broadly speaking, you have 3 types of cloud scalability, and they’re vertical, horizontal, and diagonal scaling. Other than these three, you also have something called auto-scaling. As you might’ve guessed, the cloud resource automatically scales based on demand and requires no manual effort. For the purposes of this article, I’ll only discuss the first three types.

Your business needs often determine which scaling type you choose for your company. Let’s talk about each type in more detail now, starting with vertical scaling.

1. Vertical Scaling

Vertical scaling is the more common of the three types. Here, you scale your existing resources up or down to better manage your workload, without adding more infrastructure. You don’t need any coding whatsoever here. Often, this is a temporary increase or decrease to dynamically meet workload changes. 

However, the downside is the limitation of the resource itself, as it only has so much it can scale. Vendor lock-in and danger of downtime are some other possible downsides to consider. 

2. Horizontal Scaling

Horizontal scaling is where you tend to scale in/out. This means you add more nodes or devices to your cloud infrastructure for improved performance. For example, you might use a 2TB virtual server to handle your website’s requests. Through horizontal scaling, you also can add another 1TB server to process those requests faster. This entails the use of more resources and not just increasing the capacity of existing ones. 

The downside of horizontal scaling is its increased costs and complexities. In some cases, it can also lead to data inconsistencies. 

3. Diagonal Scaling

Diagonal scaling combines both vertical and horizontal scaling to give you the highest flexibility. Here, you can add to the capacity of existing resources and also add more resources to meet your organization’s growing needs.

However, diagonal scaling is expensive and complex to implement. This is why companies prefer either vertical or horizontal scaling most times unless you have a compelling reason to go with diagonal scaling. 

Those are the three types of scaling. Which type of scaling should you choose? Well, this really depends on your budget, how much of your infrastructure is in the cloud, the nature of your business requirements, etc. But regardless of which type of scaling you choose, I’m here to help you. In the next section, I’ll share some tips and tricks on how you can leverage cloud scalability for your organization.

Tips and Tricks on How You Can Leverage Cloud Scalability

Many strategies exist to achieve scalability in cloud computing, and the strategy you use depends on your organization’s goals and current needs. Here are some tips and tricks you can implement to achieve cloud scalability.

Choose the Appropriate Domains

In all honesty, cloud adoption can’t drive every aspect of your business or domain. So, make a prudent choice to determine which areas can leverage the cloud and its scalability to improve performance and bring more revenue. 

Consider Risks and Budgets

The world of cloud computing is large and complex. Hence, you always have a small chance of picking the wrong vendor, architecture, or service. This poor choice can lead to failed compliance, cyber risks, and high costs. To stay away from such consequences, conduct extensive research to understand the right fit for your business.

Capture Value

Make the necessary changes to your organization’s existing processes and systems, so you can capture value by moving to the cloud. For example, update your security policies to include cloud infrastructure. Likewise, you might move from a project-centric to a product-centric business model, putting more focus on product delivery. These are just a few examples of what you can change to make the most of the cloud. 

Know When to Scale

Cloud scalability is a critical decision, so make sure you base it on facts. Gather reports and analyze them to determine if you need scaling, which type to choose, etc. The above suggestions can come in handy while making decisions related to cloud scalability. In general, though, understand what scalability means for your organization, so you can make the most of it.

Before I end, here’s a quick recap of everything discussed in this article.

Final Thoughts

In all, cloud scalability is the process of increasing or decreasing resources to meet your business needs. Many benefits come with scalability like reduced costs, improved performance, and a greater ability to leverage opportunities. 

To achieve these benefits, you can scale in three ways: vertical, horizontal, and diagonal. However, the exact type of scaling you choose depends on your company’s needs. 

Lastly, I discussed some aspects to consider when deciding on how to implement cloud scalability in your company. Feel free to refer back to the tips and tricks section in the near future should you need a quick refresher!

Do you have more questions about cloud scalability? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

Is auto-scaling beneficial for companies?

Yes, auto-scaling is beneficial for companies. Cloud service providers like AWS offer auto-scaling. Basically, cloud resources automatically scale horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to meet your business needs. Your business doesn’t need to monitor this; it’s fully automatic! However, this can translate to reduced control in your company.

Are scaling and load balancing the same?

No, they’re not the same. Scaling is the process of increasing cloud resources to meet the current demands of an organization. Load balancing, on the other hand, is the process of distributing a workload across different devices to improve performance

What is the key difference between horizontal and vertical scaling?

Horizontal scaling is the process of adding more instances or resources to meet your growing demands for speed, performance, storage, etc. Vertical scaling, on the other hand, is about increasing the capacity of the existing instance or replacing the existing resources with larger ones

Why is cloud computing conducive to scalability?

Cloud computing provides the option to add or remove instances or capabilities to match your company’s needs. You can do this instantly without any elaborate coding, and this is what makes cloud computing easy to scale. Some cloud providers even offer auto-scaling, where the required resources get increased or decreased automatically. 

Are there any downsides to cloud scalability?

As with any technology, cloud scalability comes with its disadvantages, too. When you choose vertical scaling, you always have a chance of encountering downtime. You also can face vendor lock-in issues, which can put a limit on how much you can scale. When it comes to horizontal scaling, you should consider issues such as high costs, data inconsistency, and increased complexity.

Resources

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