Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT systems and resources over the internet. As opposed to investing in your own hardware and servers, cloud computing does not require this level of the initial investment. Instead, it’s a pay-as-you-go service that can prevent companies from having to own their own IT assets.
The reason why this is growing in popularity is that it allows businesses to build scalable cloud infrastructures. Inherently, cloud computing is versatile as it can adapt to the number of IT resources needed very quickly. Therefore, changing demand is immediately responded to, unlike when companies used to have to upgrade or downgrade their own systems and hardware.
How Is the Cloud Scalable?
Virtualization is key to cloud scalability. In short, virtual machines are a lot more flexible than physical machines; they can be shifted to a different server, or hosted on multiple servers, and workloads can be allocated to larger virtual machines as and when it’s needed.
Third-party cloud providers also play a huge role in scalability as they have a huge pool of resources and hardware. This is already in place which clients can dip into and use; it’s a matter of paying slightly more for the immediate benefits of being granted more resources by the third party. This is a little bit like having a gym membership. You could own your own gym assets at home, but progression may mean frequent upgrades or an injury may mean much of the equipment is redundant for now.
The cloud equivalent would be a national gym membership at a given franchise; you get to use the gym on a monthly subscription with less investment, and if you outgrow one gym, the company may offer other services like yoga for an add-on fee.
Benefits of Cloud Scalability
Below are the major benefits of using cloud services.
Ultimately, not needing to put forward vast upfront costs can mean saving money in the near future and avoiding debt-driven investment. Furthermore, IT systems can quickly become outdated in a matter of years (which can be very costly), which is why leaving this headache to larger companies (cloud service providers) that can benefit more from economies of scale is economical. When using cloud providers, waste is minimal and you only pay for what you use.
Businesses can often experience quick growth or rapid changes in demand. And, investing and preparing for growth isn’t risk-free, particularly when we consider events like covid-19 which can quickly reduce capacity. Cloud scalability allows IT to respond very quickly to changes in our business needs. This is particularly important for small businesses which may require powerful resources on a limited budget.
It’s very quick and easy to adjust IT resources when using cloud services. More virtual machines can be added in an instant, and servers don’t break down as frequently – and if they do, it’s not your job to fix, it’s the cloud service providers. There are also many companies that help onboard clients to the cloud, making the migration more seamless and safe. Once up and running, convenience becomes paramount.
Vertical and Horizontal Scalability
Vertical scaling is often referred to as scaling up or down, in which you can add or take away resources. For example, changing the memory and processing power. Whilst scaling up often has a capacity given the server it’s using, it’s always possible to change the server and continue upgrading.
Horizontal scaling is often referred to as scaling in or out. This means adding to your resources sideways; like having more servers (not necessarily upgrading them) and thus sharing a workload over more machines. This can increase storage capacity as well as boost performance. This is the risk minimization method for when minimal downtime is paramount to a company.
Diagonal scaling is essentially a combination of the two above; it lets an organization scale up until they hit a server limit, then clone the server. This is widely popular when unexpected and volatile serges are expected.
Just because scaling is easier when on the cloud, it doesn’t mean that it’s always perfectly efficient. Scaling strategically is still important, as we must consider future increases and decreases.
A cloud strategy can help with this. A cloud strategy is essentially an action plan that will help define the role the cloud plays in your organization. It should help explain how you’re going to use cloud services, the reason behind this approach, help your team understand this, as well as increase productivity and decrease costs when working with the cloud.
Scalability underpins the very core selling point of using cloud services. However, it’s not just enough to have the systems in place – regular team training should be utilized to help keep the business versatile. For example, some companies use a hybrid approach or may run into issues on the cloud because of poor access management. Ultimately, businesses should have a cloud action plan and an understanding of what cloud services can achieve, and what within this is important to the business.