Cloud Scaling: How Does It Work, Exactly?

Cloud Scaling: How Does It Work, Exactly?


By now, you’ve probably heard plenty of folks wax poetic about the cloud. About how it’s one of the most powerful, disruptive technologies we’ve ever seen. About how its agility, scalability, and flexibility make it the perfect tool for a business of virtually any size. About how it can revolutionize how you do your job.

Apparently, hyperbole is kind of our thing in the tech industry.

While we don’t have the time to go over every single buzzword and piece of terminology involved with cloud computing, there’s one that I’ve seen pop up pretty often – one that seems to frequently confuse laypeople and veterans alike. Cloud scaling. What is it, and how does it work?

Let’s talk about that.

What Is Cloud Scaling?

Picture a typical dedicated server. All the hardware is right there in front of you. It’s tangible – you can reach out and touch it. Now, imagine your server is having trouble meeting the resource demands of your organization.  At this point, you’ve got three choices – upgrade your existing server, replace it with a new server, or purchase a second server so they can share the load (you could also ‘burst’ into the cloud, but we’re going to leave that idea untouched – it’s not really necessary in the context of our analogy).

All three options involve the deployment and installation of new hardware – something you’re going to have to physically do yourself.

Now, imagine that server is completely virtual, and available in the cloud. Instead of having to purchase more RAM or a better CPU, you can simply flip a few switches, and provision those resources to yourself. You can even configure some cloud platforms to automatically provision more resources during periods of especially high demand.

That’s scaling.

Understanding The TwoTypes of Scaling

Here’s where things get a bit confusing. The cloud can actually ‘scale’ in one of two ways – up or out.. Put another way, you can scale your cloud vertically or horizontally.


With vertical scaling, you’re basically making your server more powerful. You’re adding resources to your existing cloud instance. If it helps, picture a restaurant. As more patrons enter, management can put out more tables and chairs to accommodate them – they can vertically scale their patron capacity.

However, even the cloud has limits. Just as a restaurant will eventually be at capacity. In this situation, you might look to horizontal scaling – spinning up a new cloud instance that works in tandem with your existing one to share resource load. Going back to our restaurant example, the people running the show might direct customers to a sister location that just opened up – that way, the restaurant isn’t overwhelmed, and it doesn’t lose out on business.

Of course, you or the host may eventually have to add new hardware to the server or data center running your cloud instance depending on the level of demand – but that doesn’t really count as a form of cloud scaling.

So, there you have it. A basic idea of what cloud scaling is, and how it works. Pretty simple, right? Now that you’ve got a better understanding, why not look into deploying the cloud in your own organization? Liberty Center One can help with that – contact us today for more information.


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