Scaling For The Holidays

The holidays are right around the corner and I want to make sure that you aren’t stressed out about your online configuration. So let’s start looking at how to prepare for the holiday rush as soon as possible. Today I will talk about scaling for the holidays.

From Black Friday to the first part of the New Year, many websites experience higher than expected traffic. This is especially true for e-commerce sites as people try to get their last minute shopping in. To handle that excess traffic, it is really important that your business has a scalability plan. There are two ways to scale your configuration in the cloud: vertically and horizontally.

Scaling Vertically

Vertical scaling is probably the simplest way to add more resources such as RAM, computational power or storage. In essence, you are going to make a larger cloud server. All you have to do is find your cloud server instance in the control panel and click a button to scale it up.

This type of scaling doesn’t require any refactoring of your code and you can do this at a moment’s notice. However, there are two drawbacks. First, there is finite scalability of how big your server can get. If you have scaled it to be as large as possible and the traffic is still overwhelming your server, it runs the risk of going down. Second, there is some downtime that occurs when your server has to shutdown to resize.

Scaling Horizontally

Horizontal scaling leverages the true power of the cloud. Instead of increasing the size of a single server, you’re going to take a page from Santa’s playbook on how he gets a team of reindeer to help him carry the presents into the night. Instead of having just one large server, horizontal scaling is about adding additional smaller servers to your configuration, as you need them.

The benefit of horizontal scaling is that you can scale almost infinitely. However, in order to take advantage of horizontal scaling you might need to make some changes to how your code works. If you are interested in horizontal scaling, want to see if you can use it with your application or have any other general questions about scaling for the holidays, feel free to contact us here at Rackspace.

Interested in finding out more to help you prep for the holidays? Check out Joseph’s white paper now. You can also view his previous post where he gives you a list — that you can check (and check twice) — of things to help you prep for holiday traffic. In his next post, he’ll talk about caching for the holidays.


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