The Hostway Blog

What Does Scalability Really Mean?

When you see the benefits of cloud environments cited, one of the most frequently found terms is scalability. Many administrators might gloss over that characteristic, chalking it up as simply describing the ability to expand the cloud. But scalability means much more than that.

Accommodating current and future needs

Put simply, scalability applies to an application or product that can function ideally when it is changed in size or volume in order to meet a user need. A scalable solution revolves around a planned capacity level that can be altered in either direction in a quick and easy manner.

"Cloud scalability supports long-term, strategic needs," TechTarget contributor Ciprian Popoviciu wrote.

In this way, a cloud environment's scalability enables an organization to expand the platform to accommodate both current and future needs.

TechTarget's Margaret Rouse expanded upon this, noting that, in order to qualify as scalable, the cloud environment must be able to grow in volume while still delivering robust performance. This enables the business and its users to leverage their available resources in the best means possible.

"It is the ability of a computer application or product (hardware or software) to continue to function well when it (or its context) is changed in size or volume in order to meet a user need," Rouse wrote. "It is the ability not only to function well in the rescaled situation, but to actually take full advantage of it."

At the same time, scalability can refer to a reduction of the cloud environment's size as well. Scaling down may take place after a period of peak demand, and ensures that a company isn't paying for more cloud resources than it needs to support critical processes.

The ability to scale cloud resources is critical in today's enterprise landscape.
The ability to scale cloud resources is critical in today's enterprise landscape.

What does scalability look like in the real world?

What does scalability look like in a real-world setting?

In 2013, Hostway put its cloud scalability to work for Neowin's Minecraft Server, enabling the website to deliver a best-in-class gaming experience regardless of significant traffic spikes. Such a hosting solution allowed for on-demand scalability of the environment Neowin utilized to support Minecraft. In this way, a swiftly expanding user base did not hamper the performance of the cloud, or the game.

"When we introduced our Minecraft server in March, we started with 20 users for initial load testing and then opened the door to everyone in the Neowin community," Brad Smith, Neowin managing editor explained. "Suddenly, we had hundreds of registered users, large groups of gamers pounding on the server concurrently. With Hostway's ability to scale resources up or down as needed, we have been able to meet demand without missing a beat."

For Neowin, scalability allowed them to keep up with the demands of its quickly growing community of gamers. In an enterprise, scalability can translate to ensuring critical application support while keeping up with employee demands. At the same time, it can also mean guaranteeing the performance of client-facing cloud-based resources, providing the best user experience and customer service possible.

As cloud demands continue to grow in the corporate community, the ability to scale your cloud environment alongside your organization's needs is becoming increasingly imperative. Here at Hostway, we specialize in on-demand scalability, ensuring your business always has the resources it requires on hand. To find out more, schedule a free one-on-one consultation with an expert cloud consultant today.