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When developing software, the focus is generally on writing the code and building a secure platform. What often receives less attention is the IT infrastructure. This infrastructure determines where data is stored and on which server(s) the software runs. The risk here is that the IT infrastructure falls short when the use of the software grows. With an excessive workload, servers become overloaded and overcrowded. The software is then not scalable. It takes longer to load pages and files can be lost. If this is the case, the software must be redesigned and IT must be organised differently. This is a costly and labour-intensive process. It is therefore wise to take scalability into account from the very beginning. Here you can read what you need to pay attention to in order to ensure that the software is scalable.
Pillars of Scalability
Scalability means that the software can handle large increases in usage without affecting the performance of the software. This can be divided into 3 different areas.
- AvailabilityThe system must be available for use at all times. That goes without saying. If a server becomes inaccessible for any reason, the software cannot be used. That is why it is important to devise a system whereby the software always remains available.
- Performance: In this case, performance means speed. Does the software work fast and does the system maintain this speed under heavy workloads. A slow response always results in a bad user experience.
- ReliabilityThis means whether the server does what is expected of it. That is, are all data stored in the right place and can these data be retrieved at the right time. This is an aspect that is not easily noticed, but in the long run it can have great consequences.
How do you ensure scalability?
"I guess we're going to need a bigger boat" does not apply to the scalability of IT. That is, to accommodate a larger workload by using a more powerful server. This is often very expensive and not without risks. If this fails, everything comes to a standstill at once. It is better to scale the infrastructure horizontally. In other words, divide the workload across multiple servers. This works fast, is cost-effective and ensures that the software is always available. So when it comes to setting up servers, it is better to say: "I guess we're gonna need more boats".
Use the cloud
The use of physical servers is very cumbersome and expensive. A physical server is only a good solution for large multinationals with high security requirements. For most companies it is not recommended. It costs a lot of money and time to maintain and secure it. Therefore, make use of cloud servers. This is a lot cheaper and a lot easier to scale up.
Distribute the load
Many hands make light work, especially when it comes to servers. If heavy files and a lot of data have to be loaded from a specific server, it can take a long time. This is because the server can only load a limited number of MBs per second. If several servers load the same number of MBs per second simultaneously, you can load more data much faster. Special software makes it possible to split data into small parts on multiple servers and to download and merge these parts when requested. By increasing the number of servers, speed is maintained as the workload increases.
Caching means that data is stored near the end user so that it can be accessed quickly. For example, on the user's own device or server. Caching is applied to certain data that must be requested frequently and rarely changes, for example a logo that recurs on every page of the software. By caching this data, it will be available in no time without a long loading time.
A very effective method to make the software scalable is to break the large parts of the software down into small microservices. These microservices work together without getting in each other's way. If a particular service experiences heavy usage, it does not affect the rest of the software. This also ensures that software problems and bugs remain isolated in the microservice. These can then be resolved quickly while the rest of the software continues to run.
There are many ways to make the software scalable. It is important to do this before the workload takes off. This will prevent performance problems at a time when the software is used and needed a lot! The IT experts at SevenLab have a lot of experience in setting up a scalable IT infrastructure. Do you want to know if your software is scalable? We are happy to help with free IT advice.