What is scalability

Scalability defines how easily a site will expand. Web sites must expand, sometimes with little warning, and grow to support an increased load. The increased load may come from many sources:

  1. New markets

  2. Normal growth

  3. Extreme peaks

An application and infrastructure that is architected for good scalability makes site growth possible and easy.

Most often, one achieves scalability by adding hardware resources to improve throughput. A more complex configuration, employing additional hardware, should allow one to service a higher client load than that provided by the simple basic configuration. Ideally, it should be possible to service any given load simply by adding additional servers or machines (or upgrading existing resources).

However, adding new systems or processing power does not always provide a linear increase in throughput. For example, doubling the number of processors in your system will not necessarily result in twice the processing capacity. Nor will adding an additional horizontal server in the Application Server tier necessarily result in twice the request serving capacity. Adding additional resources introduces additional overhead for resource management and request distribution. While the overhead and corresponding degradation may be small, you need to remember that adding n additional machines does not always result in n times the throughput.

Also, you should not simply add hardware without doing some investigation and possible software tuning first to identify potential bottlenecks in your application
or any other performance-related software configurations. Adding more hardware may not necessarily improve the performance if the software is badly designed or not tuned correctly. Once the software optimization has been done, then the hardware resources should be considered as the next step for improving performance


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