With the cloud computing industry projected to be worth nearly $90 billion by 2022, more businesses than ever are choosing software-as-a-service (Saas) applications to streamline their IT operations. Though most businesses understand the cost-savings the cloud offers, only a very few are migrating with a full understanding of what they’re doing.
One big mistake many companies make involves not planning for the future, choosing a cloud provider only on their price tag. Everything changes over time, including your business, and when change occurs you need to use different methods to solve problems. Finding a versatile cloud provider at the outset of your migration will make changes a lot less stressful, preventing downtime and major security breaches.
Horizontal or Vertical Scaling
Should you choose a cloud provider that concentrates on horizontal or vertical scaling, or hedge your bets and go diagonally? In a nutshell, horizontal scaling involves adding more machines to adjust capacity, while vertical scaling means adding more power – to CPU or RAM – to existing machines.
Horizontal scalability gives administrators an advantage when it comes to increasing capacity quickly. Rather than change capacity, they decrease the server’s load through distributing file systems and clustering. By reducing the load on servers, your system operates more efficiently. You can especially see this with website traffic. A cloud provider concentrating on horizontal scaling can easily distribute the load when more people seek to access your business website.
Some advantages of horizontal scaling:
- Amplifies the capacity.
- Better with smaller systems.
- Easily scalable.
- Easily upgraded.
- Enables limitless growth.
- Less expensive than scaling-up.
- Multiple systems improve resilience.
Some disadvantages of horizontal scaling:
- High licensing fees.
- High utility costs.
- Highly complex architectural design.
- Requires extra networking equipment.
Vertical scaling attempts to add capacity by increasing power, storage and memory on already existing hardware or software. It enhances servers without manipulating code, but it’s limited by the size of the server. Consider again your business website. It needs to add faster CPU processors, RAM, disk capacity and other hardware and software to deal with an increase in traffic. While used more by medium and small businesses, vertical scaling limits what you can do.
Some advantages of vertical scaling:
- Easily implemented.
- Lower licensing fees.
- Lower utility costs.
- Maintains application compatibility.
- Reduces software costs.
- Single system requires less administration.
Some disadvantages of vertical scaling:
- Expensive to implement.
- Limited future upgradeability.
- Locks you into one vendor.
- Outages and hardware failures cause more downtime.
Because of the limitations inherent in both horizontal and vertical scaling, it may involve more than a simple choice between these two options. Many organizations now opt for a hybrid method, including many smaller companies.
With diagonal scaling, businesses can use a blend of both scaling methods.
By proceeding vertically until right before the load becomes too great, you can have your cloud provider add more resources right before hitting the tipping point. From that point, you move your data across multiple cloud servers, using the advantages of horizontal scaling.
Diagonal scaling should especially be considered in businesses where data availability and uptime are paramount. Following a horizontal scaling strategy from this point also allows you to better deal with surges of unexpected growth. It permits your business to avoid hurdles and prevents a loss of control.
Consider Asking for Outside Help
With so many cloud providers out there, make sure the one you choose has the right capabilities for your operations. Although pricing should always be a consideration, what a cloud provider can do for you is more important than the monthly cost.
As an example, consider a company whose main business involves filing taxes. It needs increased capabilities during tax season, but won’t need these capabilities outside this time frame. Such a business needs a provider who can respond to these changing needs.
If you’re about to begin a major cloud migration, hire a consultant to guide you towards the provider or providers that will best suit your IT needs. It will save money as well as reduce the chances of huge technical headaches. According to top IT and business advisory firm Wavestone US, migrating to the cloud isn’t the answer in itself. The cloud is a tool that should work to increase efficiency and, if it’s not, you may need a new cloud provider.