Scale your application to handle more users

Thursday, April 12, 2007

There are two common ways to scale your application to handle more number of users, more data volume or a combination of both.
Scaling up is one of the two methods under which you increase the capability of a server by adding more hardware, such as more memory, more processor power, more network ports, etc. It does not add additional maintenance and support costs. Beyond a certain threshold, adding more hardware to existing servers may not produce desired results. For an application to scale up, the underlying framework, runtime and computer architecture must scale up as well. When scaling up, consider which resources the application is bound by. For instance, if your application uses sizeable chunk of available memory in the server, increasing memory might help. On the contrary, if your application, on an average uses only 20-30% of the CPU, adding more processor power would not help in scaling up because the problem is elsewhere.

The other way to scale an application is scaling out. Under this option, you would add more servers and use load balancing or clustering solutions. Unlike the scaling up option discussed above, adding more servers can also help in improving availability since there are alternate servers that can be used for running the application in case one server fails. However, adding more servers and implementing load balancing and/or clustering solutions may involve additional maintenance and support costs.


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