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What Is Scalability? Definition And Meaning

We run stateless services that can be easily scaled up or down whenever possible. Configuring how and when to autoscale ahead of time is much easier than having to manually rescale when traffic changes drastically. It also simplifies many other aspects of maintaining a service, so it is almost always worth setting services up this way from the beginning when possible.

For example, paying customers on a subscription news site might have unlimited, 24/7 access to all site content. Non-paying customers of the same site have access to this same data, but they might be limited to Scalability vs Elasticity opening and reading only three or four articles per month. The non-shared data sets help you to achieve fault isolation so you can quickly and easily diagnose and fix problems without scanning the whole system.

But, they can be costly to maintain as entire data sets are replicated across multiple servers and data caches grow exponentially. Many open-source and even commercial scale-out storage clusters, especially those built on top of standard PC hardware and networks, provide eventual consistency only. Write operations invalidate other copies, but often don’t wait for their acknowledgements.


A network’s capacity to handle growing demands is known as scalability. It is done by increasing the network’s storage, databases, and bandwidth capacity and supporting its physical extension to new development regions cost-effectively and sustainably. Scalability has become increasingly relevant at Fluid Truck as we acquire more customers and expand into new markets.

While software scalability is important to any business application, many Enterprise Resources Planning solution providers differentiate themselves on scalability. This is because mission critical software like ERP that impacts compliance and other high-risk functions has traditionally been fairly rigid. With the destabilizing effects of the pandemic last year, many organizations experienced the importance of software scalability firsthand.

Scalability meaning

We use a whole smorgasbord of AWS products to host our services and train our machine learning models. We scale servers with Kubernetes and scale our warehouses with Snowflake. You need to think constantly about actions that can be automated to allow you to reduce costs but also to make sure that you have your employees focused on the most critical issues for your business. At real estate tech companyCommon, VP of Operations Eric Rodriguez said automation helps them scale while also reducing costs. But there are hidden operations costs, difficulty in large horizontal scalability build-outs, and speed to bring new capacity online and release existing capacity. Lucidchart is the intelligent diagramming application that empowers teams to clarify complexity, align their insights, and build the future—faster.

Some of the tools we leverage to make scaling easier for us are Kubernetes, actionable metrics with Prometheus and AWS-hosted services like RDS. Kubernetes provides us a way to scale our services with automation and little effort. There is a natural tendency to make applications and systems bullet-proof, but it’s better to make incremental changes, release them, measure them and make data-driven decisions going forward. We use tests and metrics to guide our decisions and try to stay away from fingers in the wind. When defining system scalability requirements, we always start with a design session.

Examples Of Scaling Software

When a database gets bigger, there are more requests and transactions made on it. Microservices efficiently scale transactions, large data sets, and help you to create fault isolation which keeps your systems highly available. In addition, because large disjointed features can be broken up into smaller services, the complexity of your codebase is reduced.

Having all these technologies at hand is great, but combining too many can increase complexity. Adam Berlinsky-Schnine, CTO of Apairi, wrote about that exact experience in a blog post for Hacker Noon. Sharding can reduce costs because you don’t need huge, expensive servers to host them. Determine which algorithm should be used to balance the work across multiple healthy backend servers. Here we’ll discuss some of the more common patterns used to solve architectural scaling problems.

We also take a larger social responsibility as we scale especially when we are providing essential services and employment during a pandemic. It can add resources and scale up to seamlessly handle increased customer demand and larger workloads. A routing protocol is considered scalable with respect to network size, if the size of the necessary routing table on each node grows as O, where N is the number of nodes in the network. Some early peer-to-peer implementations of Gnutella had scaling issues.

When working with cloud infrastructure, we don’t troubleshoot or debug a single node. On the database front, we keep things simple with typical RDBMS systems managed by our cloud provider. We use our application to limit access to these databases and keep their size and workload manageable by spreading the load across several databases that hold parts of the data.

Weak Versus Strong Scaling

Full BioRobert Kelly is managing director of XTS Energy LLC, and has more than three decades of experience as a business executive. He is a professor of economics and has raised more than $4.5 billion in investment capital. Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master’s in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology.

It’s important to remember the original definition, as you want your product not only to be able to handle increased activity but also be able to adapt in its feature set to meet the needs of the customer. This is crucial in the technology you choose, as it needs to be flexible and remove roadblocks preventing change. We strive to hire developers that can reason about complex systems and foster an engineering environment that values a long-term mindset. We cultivate that mindset through openly collaborative development and an iterative code review process where we encourage scalability and maintainability. Building for scalability means designing, building and maintaining engineering systems with a deep technical understanding of the technologies that we use and the performance constraints of our systems.

  • This service must be able to scale, especially as it requires a lot of network traffic.
  • The reason can be a lack of physical inventory and a software-as-a-service model of producing and delivering goods and services.
  • We use our application to limit access to these databases and keep their size and workload manageable by spreading the load across several databases that hold parts of the data.
  • Our internal services communicate with each other using gRPC rather than JSON/REST.
  • These effects present themselves when running operations that are crucial in attaining organizational objectives.
  • With our brand, we’ve been able to attract some of the best talent the industry has to offer.
  • Centralized computation is said to suffer from poor scalability, high maintenance costs and low adaptability.

This means designing our infrastructure and applications in such a way that they can automatically scale up and down to handle traffic spikes. We have focused on building the front end with a reusable component-based architecture. We have built out an external component library to be the source of truth for engineering, design and product decisions. The library allows us to maintain consistent design in our UI/UX, establish patterns within our component code and provide guidelines for new developers to build new pages or components that match. We’ve also built custom tools that assess production utilization daily and redistribute workload uniformly.

What Is Software Scalability And Why Is It Important?

Each service can be scaled independently, which allows you to apply more resources only to the services that currently need them. To ensure high availability, each service should have its own, non-shared data set. For example, a well-designed, scalable website will function just as well whether one or thousands of users concurrently access it. There should not be any perceptible decrease in functionality as more users log on. Scaling vertically (up/down) means adding resources to a single node, typically involving the addition of CPUs, memory or storage to a single computer. Scalability is the property of a system to handle a growing amount of work by adding resources to the system.

Scalability meaning

A lack of brand enforcement sometimes causes companies to lose sight of their core value, thus decreasing scalability. After the company scaled up quickly, it lost sight of its core business and suffered as a result. A distributed architecture is a fundamental building block to scalability. For example, at The Trade Desk, the components that handle incoming advertising opportunities or bid requests have had to scale more quickly to account for new inventory sources such as connected television. One critical feature of our application is the ability to upload and store photos.

We must be able to diagnose and fix application issues that arise from the underlying infrastructure while meeting SLA requirements. Cloud computing has enabled companies to realize new levels of infrastructure scalability and efficiency. Implementing scalable architecture patterns into your system should help your system be able to maintain its performance while increasing its input load. Microservices are essentially a bunch of different little applications that can all work together.

I think most people refer to it as an application or system that increases performance proportional to the services shouldering that load. But you should think beyond scaling web services; an organization needs to be able to scale as well. If a service is deemed scalable, we need the people and processes to keep that service ahead of the curve. For most other scaling optimizations, finding the balance between not over-engineering early and being ready in time to support more load is the trickiest part. It’s hard to pinpoint, but the ideal time to start working on scalability is after the problems we will encounter are clear but before they overwhelm us.

Other Resources

They became the go-to video chat service in the U.S. during the technology’s biggest boom. “The three of us had been working as consultants helping companies build web applications. One problem that kept resurfacing was that no tool existed to help developers intelligently manage large numbers of digital images. Uploading, indexing and transforming images for our clients ‘at scale’ was a tedious and time-consuming manual process. The company worked it out by increasing the incentives, compartmentalizing the process similar to assembly line production, and delivering the deal. Had they chosen the first option, they would have barely grown as an organization.

Scalability means building our technology and products from the ground up with future scale in mind. It means anticipating future demand and being able to meet that demand without having to re-engineer or overhaul our system. Scalability is especially crucial for us since we handle tens of thousands of API requests per second.

With so many people moving big parts of their life online recently, we have seen a huge, unexpected increase in active users of more than 50 percent since the previous year. Scalability is the engineering work necessary to maintain the quality that users expect even in the face of such unexpected growth. Observability is the next key concept that we embrace to effectively measure how well the service is performing and identify key offending components in which we can then iterate and fix. New Relic is one of the major observability tools that we use to instrument and support scalability through observability. Content delivery networks are another major technology that we use to better serve our fans. CDNs allow us the ability to cache video assets closer to the edge locations of our customers to give them a better and more performant experience by caching popular assets.

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