The Scoop On Scalable Sites | Scalability Explained

April 28, 2022

The Scoop On Scalable Sites | Scalability Explained

We are living in on-demand times, and it’s no secret that the modern consumer has little to no patience with poorly designed applications, slow loading sites or, worse, the infamous website crash. Although coding errors, expired domains and other related issues can result in a website crashing, one of the root causes is a mismatch between website infrastructure capacity and traffic levels. That’s where scalability comes into play.

What Are Scalable Websites?

One of the core factors that contributes to a site's success is its ability to seamlessly accommodate growth without interrupting the customer journey. Scalable sites are able to handle any increase in users, regardless of whether the increase occurs abruptly or gradually.

When Is a Website Considered Scalable?

There are three key factors that determine whether a website is scalable:

  • Performance comes down to load balancing and pinpointing the saturation level at which the website is pushed beyond its designed capacity and encounters problems.
  • Recoverability looks at how quickly your website can bounce back to its intended state after experiencing failure.
  • Ease of management takes into consideration the simplicity or complexity of maintaining and updating your web applications and processes.

Different Scaling Methodologies

Often also described as a system’s elasticity, scalability can include scaling down, scaling up and scaling out, based on whether you choose to implement X-axis (horizontal) scaling, Y-axis (vertical) scaling or Z-axis scaling.

X-Axis Scaling

X-axis scaling, or scaling out, involves adding additional machines or nodes to your site infrastructure to increase traffic capacity capabilities. This type of scaling is similar to dividing a single employee's workload among several employees.

Y-Axis Scaling

Y-axis scaling, or scaling up, is the process of adding additional resources to a system in order to meet demands. While horizontal scaling focuses on adding additional nodes, vertical scaling focuses on adding more power to your current machines or replacing a server entirely.

Z-Axis Scaling

Z-axis scaling is the process of scaling at a business level, allowing each server to run an identical copy of the code but dividing data responsibilities (in that each server is only responsible for a subset of the data). With Z-axis scaling, the system is responsible for routing each request to the appropriate server, which improves cache use, transaction scalability and fault isolation.

Popular Scaling Tools

There's a wide variety of processes and tools businesses use to scale their sites, but these are the most popular:

  • Cloud storage: Migrating site data to the cloud essentially means that the site data is stored in remote servers with on-demand accessibility and expansion capabilities, transferring data accessibility and availability responsibilities to cloud storage providers
  • Load balancing software: This type of software monitors site traffic and spreads the user load across multiple servers to prevent overloading a single server when your site experiences a surge of users.
  • Microservices: Microservice architecture is a distinctive method of software systems development that focuses on decentralised systems and modular, lightweight protocols, allowing upgrades and maintenance to take place without the entire application being affected.
  • Caching: Using caching optimally within a web application allows for faster data retrieval, increases usability and saves costs on data loading.

There are a wide variety of factors to take into consideration when scaling your site and building scalable web applications from scratch. Choosing the correct frameworks for your needs and following design best practices is better left with the professionals. After all, if you don’t have the budget to scale your site the first time, when are you going to have the budget to redo it? Get in touch and let’s discuss how to scale your site and help you achieve your business goals.

Sharen van Lill

Digital Marketing Specialist

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