Scalability in cloud computing: meaning and benefits

May 8, 2023 ˙ 6 min read
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Scalability is one of the key features of cloud computing, and it is one of the primary reasons why cloud services are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. However, what exactly does scalability mean? Let’s find out.

What is scalability in cloud computing?

Cloud scalability is the ability to increase or decrease IT resources as needed to meet changing demand.

Scaling IT resources to face the evolving needs of a business has always been possible to some degree, but the major difference between scaling cloud services and doing the same with physical infrastructure located on the premises is that with cloud computing, scalability can be achieved faster, more efficiently, while causing minimal to no downtime.

The time required to upgrade physical infrastructure can be measured in terms of weeks or months and is generally a very disruptive process; with cloud computing, scaling happens in a fraction of that time and does not interfere with your workflow nearly as much.

Horizontal and vertical scalability in cloud computing

Not all scalability is the same: depending on what is being done to adjust your IT resources to your needs, we may refer to scalability as vertical, horizontal, and in some cases, diagonal. The reason why the different types of scalability are named after directions in space is very intuitive once you have taken a closer look at their definitions:

  • Vertical scalability, also known as scaling up or down,consists of adding more resources (such as RAM or processing power) to an existing server in order to match an increasing workload. It is the simplest type of scaling, but also the most limited, because the capabilities of a server cannot be scaled up infinitely.
  • Horizontal scalability, generally referred to as scaling in or out, is more complex than scaling vertically, because it involves adding more servers to a company’s original cloud infrastructure to handle its growing needs. This is harder to achieve, but it does not suffer from the limitations of vertical scalability, as your organisation can theoretically scale out its IT resources infinitely.
  • Diagonal scalability is what happens when both vertical and horizontal scaling are combined: for instance, a company can scale up vertically until the server’s upper limit is reached, and then clone it to add more resources as needed. The combination of both methods makes diagonal scalability flexible and able to face the unpredictability of rapidly changing demands.

No type of scalability is inherently better than the others: they are simply different, and what matters is that you find the arrangement that suits you best.

The benefits of scalability in cloud computing

Cloud scalability has been a game changer for more and more businesses in recent times. Let’s look at a few reasons why:

  • Convenience: scaling your resources in whichever direction you need can generally be done with just a few clicks from your IT department and does not consist of a major overhaul.
  • Speed: scalability allows your organisation to respond quickly to changes in demand without suffering from long periods of downtime to upgrade obsolete equipment, thus improving your overall performance and quality of customer service.
  • Cost effectiveness: cloud providers only charge for the resources you are actually using at the time, saving you the major upfront cost of purchasing and maintaining redundant equipment just in case of a spike in activity.
  • Reliability: not only does the flexibility of cloud computing make your company more adaptable to fluctuations in workload, but it also makes your data easier to recover in case of a major loss caused by natural disaster or a large-scale cyber attack, all without the added cost of maintaining a secondary data centre.

The difference between elasticity and scalability in cloud computing

At first glance, the words ‘elasticity’ and ‘scalability’ may appear interchangeable: after all, what does scalability do, if not make your IT resources more elastic and capable of adapting to a changing workload?

In the context of cloud computing, however, there is a key difference between elasticity and scalability that cannot be ignored.

Elasticity is a system’s ability to expand and contract based on short-term changes in workload and traffic, such as a sudden, short-lived spike in website activity coinciding with a special holiday promotion; scalability, on the other hand, operates on a more long-term basis and is strategically planned to match the overall growth of your business.

Different businesses rely on elasticity and scalability in different ways depending on their activities and needs: elasticity is a must-have if you work in a field that is typically subject to unpredictable surges in workload, while scalability is more important if your growth tends to have a more foreseeable pattern.

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Acer DaaS, an example of cloud scalability

If you think the perks of cloud computing and its ease in scaling your IT resources up or down in any situation can give your business the edge you have been looking for, Acer DaaS is a model of how cloud scalability can be achieved and what it means for your organisation.

With a flexible contract that can be modified to adapt to your changing needs and upgrading and maintenance services being included in your monthly fee, Acer DaaS offers not only the physical devices you need to keep your business alive, but a variety of resources that can be added easily to make your unique hardware and software package just right for you.

Acer DaaS lightens the load of day-to-day troubleshooting resting on your IT department’s shoulders and equips you with the ability to respond to rapidly evolving needs with just a few changes to your package, all while remaining transparent about the predictable fee we charge for our services.

If you are looking for a solution to take full advantage of the features of cloud scalability, please consider choosing Acer DaaS as your rental model for all things IT.

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