Cloud computing offers countless advantages for your business, providing an affordable and convenient way to maximize storage while escaping from the confines of a traditional server setup. One of the main benefits of cloud computing? The opportunity to scale.
What Is Scalability in Cloud Computing?
For most companies, growth is the ultimate goal. Being able to move forward, drive more revenue, take on competitors, and otherwise continue to flourish is paramount to ongoing operations. In order to accomplish this successfully, it’s important for companies to be able to adapt and grow both physically and technologically. To achieve this, businesses need storage solutions that can accommodate fluctuating needs, and this virtually always means cloud computing.
In cloud computing, the concept of cloud scalability means the ability to be flexible with increasing and decreasing storage and technology needs.
The state of a company is never static. In good times, businesses have more employees, more money, and more usage. In bad, the opposite is true. All storage applications and architecture established within a business need to flexible and able to accommodate this.
A traditional server system is generally a set size. While there is an ability to scale upwards, a downward trajectory can be hard to accommodate without wasting resources. When space isn’t needed, companies are essentially expected to pay to maintain space that is unnecessary, wasting resources. Cloud architecture, on the other hand, is flexible, giving companies the opportunity to use space as it’s needed rather than existing with a set level of resources.
Types of Scalability: Horizontal, Vertical, and Diagonal Scaling
Scalability is a multifaceted concept that manifests in different ways for different companies. In general, cloud scalability goals and needs can be divided into three distinct categories: vertical, horizontal, and diagonal scaling.
Horizontal scaling, also called scaling out, refers to infrastructure changes to better accommodate the shifting needs of a company. This can involve implementing new servers or making changes to existing physical servers to better support a change in priorities or goals. Horizontal scaling requires use of independent web applications so that functions can be separated as the scaling process proceeds, particularly if multiple servers are employed. This can lead to a more complex process, but opens the door to virtually infinite storage space and, accordingly, growth potential.
Vertical scaling, also called scaling up, refers to adding additional cloud-based services and resources to accommodate growing needs. There is generally no infrastructure or code changes in this form of scaling, as the objective is to increase capacity rather than the actual function of the server. Vertical scaling is ideal when companies have additional users or require expanded application services but do not need to build anything out to accommodate more complex demands.
Diagonal scaling, as the name implies, is a combination of vertical scaling and horizontal scaling. In this model, vertical scaling is employed until the server’s maximum capacity, whether memory, computing resources, or any number of other scenarios, is achieved. Once this occurs, horizontal scaling takes place, expanding outward in order to maximize opportunities for growth. Most business, whether intentionally or inadvertently, favor diagonal scaling due to the increased opportunity.
The Differences Between Cloud Scalability and Elasticity
On the surface, cloud scalability and cloud elasticity sound like the same concept, and in some ways, they are quite similar. The ability to scale – to adjust resources based on changing needs – does require elasticity, but the two terms are not synonymous.
Elasticity refers to a more in-the-moment sort of ability to change and adjust based on immediate needs. For example, if 500 users use cloud applications or access stored data files all at once versus 50, the elastic nature of cloud computing allows for the accommodation of this change in user behavior without hardship. Scalability refers to a long-term strategy in which additional resources are dedicated to supporting changing business needs on a larger scale. While the two certainly work hand in hand to provide the benefits that attract users to cloud computing in general, elasticity and scalability are two distinct concepts.
What Are the Benefits of Scalability in Cloud Computing?
As the need for scaling is generally a desirable thing for business as it implies growth, the benefits provided by cloud providers or a cloud platform are highly appealing. These include:
- More storage: Data storage is a primary objective in using cloud solutions for any reason, so more storage is always an asset. From storing data to hosting applications, storage is an essential part of day-to-day operations. As operations grow, so do storage requirements. Due to the scalable nature of cloud computing, a need for additional resources can be easily accommodated.
- More power: Data storage isn’t the only technological requirement; companies also need access to adequate infrastructure to support fast, efficient functionality. When servers aren’t powerful enough to support the number of users or the workload of a significant hardware and software usage, output will suffer. Through scaling, businesses can increase power as needed without the struggles of adding the physical equipment that is required when using traditional servers. Cloud computing can easily address performance issues, improving workloads.
- Increased versatility: The world of technology moves very fast. An indispensable tool one year can be obsolete the next, leading to constant innovation and adaptation that isn’t necessarily easy. With cloud computing however, it’s much simpler to transition from one application or approach to operations. Cloud infrastructure can be expanded or adapted into multi-cloud or a hybrid cloud if needed, leading to significant opportunity. Although a private cloud environment is much more easily scaled than a hybrid cloud architecture.
- Better Use of Time: Maintaining an on-site server leads to consistent IT issues in which internal employees devote resources to things like troubleshooting rather than creating innovative ways to address business needs.
With a cloud, particularly a public cloud, like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Azure, or a private cloud hosted by a third-party, all of these requirements are handled by someone else, giving IT teams the chance to put more energy into operations rather than backend minutiae.
What If You Have to Scale Down as Demand Decreases?
On some occasions, demand for resources like data storage may decrease. This may mean that infrastructure previously put in place while attempting to scale becomes unnecessary or obsolete, creating a use of time and money that is ultimately wasted. While this is obviously not an ideal situation – companies want to move forward, not backwards – it can happen. In traditional server usage, the logistical problems can be much more challenging, leaving IT teams feeling as though they wasted time and energy troubleshooting problems and increasing space and performance for no reason.
In a cloud environment, however, this is far less significant of a problem. If a business needs less support, they can simply reduce the number of users or the application demands without spending significant time worrying about the back end. As IT support is handled by a third party for the majority of businesses, employing less resources doesn’t result in any functional issues. In fact, this can actually reduce costs overall if companies no longer need to pay for as many users – rather than the alternative in a conventional setting, which involves paying for too much data storage and support for no reason.
The flexibility and elasticity of cloud computing makes scaling of all kinds far easier, giving companies the room to adjust storage and data management up and down as business needs fluctuate.
The High Availability of Scalable Cloud Technology Options
In some ways, all cloud computing is scalable, and largely auto scaling. Public clouds, private clouds, and hybrid clouds all allow for the ability to add new users, applications, and infrastructure solutions – in fact, this is one of the largest benefits to cloud computing in general, and one instance why many companies choose to make the switch. However, some virtual machines, and service providers, are better than others.
Private clouds are among the best options for scalable cloud computing, offering a customized way to accommodate the development of progressing business needs. Instead of operating within whatever solutions are offered by public cloud service providers, a private cloud can be manipulated in the best possible ways for each unique enterprise, either scaling up or out as necessary to ensure optimal performance.
Cloud Hosting in a private cloud environment is arguably the best way to approach scalable resources. An alternative to an on-site private cloud in which maintenance and support are handled by a third party, this setup allows for growth and development supported by a team of cloud computing experts rather than an in-house team. Scaling needs can be discussed and changes can be implemented in a sustainable and manageable way that can account for any potential decreases in demand.
Where Can You Find Scalable Cloud Hosting Solutions?
A comprehensive cloud solution like Avatara’s CompleteCloud makes scaling easy, growing with businesses as staffing and operational needs develop and change. As a private cloud, systems can be implemented that are specific to a business’s unique needs rather than the wider focus that occurs when using public clouds. With comprehensive support and oversight, it’s possible to develop a customized system that addresses both scalability and elasticity in a way that best meets business needs. Offering the ability to pay solely for the users needed on a month to month basis, it’s possible to cut costs in periods of decline as well.
If your business is considering moving to a cloud-based data center, understanding the advantages, like scalability, can make the choice to transition easier. With third-party managed private cloud options like Avatara’s CompleteCloud solution, it’s possible to create a scalable environment that can support current operations while providing consistent opportunity as business needs develop.
Contact us today to see how Avatara’s opportunities can make a difference for you!