Scaling Your Business in the Cloud

Scaling is more important than ever as enterprise companies and large businesses take aim at increased profitability in 2020. One of the most advantageous ways to approach scalability is via the cloud. In the not-so-distant past, boosting data center capabilities was the solution. However, this will simply not do the trick anymore.

Data centers are now too costly and clunky to stay competitive. Purchasing server hardware, acquiring disk arrays, and staffing professionals to manage data center operations are no longer reasonably sustainable. There are many issues data centers present in today’s fast-paced digital era and one reason why it is recommended to move to the cloud.

According to statistics provided by Jfrog, Cloud DevOps is one of the ways companies are addressing these issues. In fact, 75 percent of companies have adopted cloud technology for both increased scalability and improved business agility.  

Performance issues, application lockouts, security breaches, and errors occurring during customer use are all problems that may arise with traditional data centers. It is also true that businesses may have vastly different needs from one month or even one week to the next.  The cloud provides businesses with a far more agile way to adjust to those changing requirements.

If you want an example of the rapidly changing scalability needs of a business, you need to look no further than Black Friday or the holiday shopping season in general. Scaling resources like computing, storage, and security during seasonality shifts like this is essential for ecommerce businesses. On the flip side, businesses utilizing data centers will have much more trouble growing or diminishing their capacities.

A strong scalability business plan that includes the implementation of cloud concepts across all applications (e.g. database, storage, computing resources, etc.) can help you quickly overcome a number of different obstacles.

The strategic anatomy of cloud scalability

There are generally two primary strategies for scaling your business. If you have any experience with scaling, then you have probably heard the terms vertical scaling and horizontal scaling. When you scale vertically, you are said to be going up or down while horizontal scaling can be described as going out or in.

At first glance, this can seem somewhat confusing, but these are important concepts to know when it comes to scaling your business via the cloud in 2020. To clear up the confusion, let’s take a closer look at vertical and horizontal scalability below. 

Vertical scalability using the cloud

Vertical scalability via the cloud typically refers to increasing or decreasing your existing server’s resources or even upgrading to a server with more capacity to handle larger workloads. In fact, you can think of vertical scalability as an upgrade (or downgrade) to those already existent processes and resources like CPU, I/O resources, and memory or storage.

With vertical scalability, you are not adding any new code or infrastructure that would fundamentally alter how the system runs and works together. The reason vertical scalability is described as scaling up or down is because you are essentially building off the same system without adding any new servers.

Vertical scaling is limited by the size of the server. This means that you can only upgrade or add resources to your software or hardware if the server has the capacity for it. Of course, as mentioned above, it is still considered vertical scaling if you replace one server with another without actually adding new infrastructure to the system.

Either way, the ability to vertically scale your business via the cloud is easy because it often involves increasing the size of instances in existing infrastructure. It is far easier and more cost-effective to do this with the cloud rather than any other method. That being said, horizontal scalability is often a more convenient option for most businesses.

Horizontal scalability using the cloud

Horizontal scalability refers to adding or removing infrastructure from a current system. This generally involves adding or removing servers that are designed to work and communicate together. This is differentiated from vertical scalability because you are adding or removing new instances or applications to the system rather than just upgrading or downgrading them.

Horizontal scalability is described as scaling out or in because you are adding or removing infrastructure, not simply stacking up resources onto an existing infrastructure. You can think of this like adding more lanes to a highway to accommodate increased traffic. While this is a simplification, it gives you a basic idea of how horizontal scalability works.

Many businesses (particularly those in the ecommerce sector) employ horizontal scaling as needed. It is usually easier to use horizontal scaling versus vertical scaling because vertical scaling requires downtime to add new resources. Horizontal scaling, however, does not require existing servers to be shut down in order to add new ones.

Horizontal scalability in the cloud also allows you to adjust on the fly based on your unique needs throughout the year. If you anticipate an uptick in orders or clients during a particular season, you can add new infrastructure that communicated with existing infrastructure without having any downtime in the process.

You can also employ a tactic known as diagonal scaling which involves a combination of both vertical and horizontal scaling. This means you can increase resources while adding new infrastructure (or vice versa). In any event, knowing more about horizontal and vertical scaling can help you down the road when it comes to your own cloud scalability in 2020.

Scalability made easy via the cloud

One of the most enticing features cloud scalability provides is the ease of use for business owners. For instance, you can make changes in your cloud environment manually or by automating the process.

  1. Scaling manually utilizing the cloud. As the name suggests, this type of cloud scalability allows you to make changes on your own. Instead of dealing with data center challenges, you can easily scale through the cloud with press of a button. There can be some drawbacks, however. Depending on the type of business you have, managing the vertical and horizontal scaling needs every minute can be challenging. You also risk incurring issues related to human error, which could reduce the cost-effectiveness of this strategy. But with the cloud, you can easily automate these types of processes.
  2. Automated scaling with the cloud. Automated scaling via the cloud is often the best way to approach your business’ daily, weekly, and monthly needs. By predefining a set of rules, your business can scale resources like computing power, databases, storage, and security without a human needing to monitor those resources 24/7. For instance, if your CPU needs reach a certain predefined limit, your cloud environment will automatically scale (or autoscale) for you. This option eliminates a lot of the management and costs you may currently have.

The cloud: Staying competitive and cost-effective for 2020 and beyond

Features like the above make utilizing the power of the cloud essential for businesses in 2020. You can be sure your competitors are already using the cloud or planning to implement it. Shifting the business mindset from data centers to the cloud certainly has powerful business benefits. With that said, only one question remains: are you ready to make the switch?

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