What is Cloud Scalability?
September 21, 2023
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The scale and growth of the global cloud industry is immense.

It is expected to grow from $545.8 billion back in 2022 to $1,240.9 billion by the end of 2027, at a CAGR of 17.9%.

The cloud remains open to everyone. As the founder and CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff said:

“The cloud services companies of all sizes…The cloud is for everyone. The cloud is a democracy.”

In this blog we will look at a key component of cloud computing technology: cloud scalability.

What is cloud scalability?

Cloud scalability refers to the ability for cloud systems to manage increased or reduced workload demands.

This is achieved by providing or reducing additional resources like processing power, storage, or bandwidth. It is all done through the allocation of cloud resources, with no expensive hardware upgrades or infrastructure changes.

It is a key component of a robust cloud infrastructure, similar to when physical retail stores hire temporary workers to manage surges in customers during holiday seasons.

Cloud scalability enables business growth. The ability to adjust resources allows businesses to improve performance and cost-effectiveness.

Example of cloud scalability: Virtual machines

Virtual machines (VMs) are a great example of cloud scalability. They are software emulations of physical computers. They run operating systems and applications as if they were running them on dedicated hardware.

Through virtualisation, multiple VMs can operate on a single physical server. This allows companies to dynamically scale the number of VMs they have at their disposal, further improving efficiency and responsiveness in the cloud environment.

Types of scaling in cloud computing

Leading cloud service providers often tailor cloud scaling solutions to individual businesses. To do this, they take into consideration product type, business size, etc.

The solutions they come up with can be broadly categorised into three main types.

1. Vertical scaling

Vertical scaling involves enhancing existing servers' capabilities by modifying their physical hardware. Code or software changes are not needed for this.

By increasing resources such as RAM, CPU cores, or storage capacities, businesses can make their applications faster and able to handle heavier workloads.

Vertical scaling is relatively straightforward and doesn't require software modifications. However, it does come with longer downtime during upgrades.

2. Horizontal scaling

Horizontal scaling (also known as scaling out) allows businesses to increase system capacity by adding more machines or servers to their cloud network.

Workloads are distributed across multiple servers, resulting in improved performance, increased capacity, and enhanced availability. This scaling approach is particularly beneficial for organisations that require high availability and minimal downtime for their online services.

Compared to vertical scaling, horizontal scaling is quicker and easier to implement. And it usually involves minimal disruptions. However, it can have higher costs compared to adding more nodes or servers.

3. Diagonal scaling 

Diagonal scaling combines the best of both worlds by combining vertical and horizontal scaling. Initially, a single server's computing power is increased by adding more CPU cores, RAM, and data storage capacity (scaling up).

Once the server reaches its peak capacity, or it becomes cost-inefficient to add more components, additional servers of the same configuration are introduced. These help to expand the infrastructure horizontally (scaling out).

With diagonal scaling, cloud providers help businesses maximise the capabilities of individual servers. At the same time, they also benefit from the scalability offered by multiple servers working together.

Benefits of cloud scalability 

Scalability in cloud computing offers several advantages that give businesses the platform to thrive in a dynamic environment.

1. Cost optimization

Cloud scalability allows your business to scale its computing resources almost in real-time, ensuring you only pay for what you need.

During periods of low demand, you can scale down to reduce costs. Conversely, scaling up during peak periods allows you to handle traffic surges without over-provisioning.

By contrast, on-premise infrastructure has fixed costs - regardless of operational performance.

2. High reliability

Cloud scalability facilitates redundancy and fault tolerance through the cloud's load balancing architecture.

Traffic is evenly distributed across multiple resources.This ensures continuity of service and minimises downtime.

If one server fails, traffic can be automatically routed to other available resources. This maintains availability and uninterrupted operations.

3. Global reach

With cloud scalability, businesses can expand their applications and services to a global audience.

Leveraging data centreslocated in multiple regions worldwide can position your resources closer tousers and customers. This reduces latency while improving response times.

Scalability across regions empowers businesses to dynamically allocate resources in areas where demand is stronger, maximising return on investment.

4. Agility 

Cloud scalability offers businesses the flexibility to adapt and respond quickly to changing needs.

You can easily scale resources up or down to accommodate fluctuating workloads, which allows for efficient resource allocation.

How you can achieve cloud scalability

To achieve cloud scalability effectively, businesses can employ various techniques and best practices.

Let's explore three key approaches.

1. Design for scalability 

To achieve cloud scalability, it's crucial to design applications with a modular framework. This approach involves breaking down your system into smaller, self-contained modules or micro-services.

By doing so, you create a flexible foundation that allows for the scaling of components. You can add or remove instances of these modules as needed, without impacting the entire system.

Modular frameworks have many different uses, including banking. It not only promotes scalability but also simplifies maintenance, updates, and troubleshooting.

With a well-designed and scalable architecture, your system can adapt seamlessly to changing demands.This helps you ensure optimal performance and resource allocation.

2. Auto-scale through cloud elasticity

Auto-scaling is a powerful feature offered by cloud platforms that automates resource adjustments based on predefined rules or metrics.

Setting scaling policies allows you to define thresholds for workload changes or performance metrics.For example, when CPU utilisation exceeds a certain threshold, the system can automatically add more instances to handle the increased load.

Similarly, during periods of decreased demand, unnecessary instances can be removed to optimize resource use while reducing costs.

Auto-scaling eliminates manual intervention and ensures that your infrastructure dynamically scales to match demand.

3. Monitoring and optimisation

Through continuous monitoring, you can track KPIs and resource utilisation. This in turn helps you to identify bottlenecks within your system.

This data-driven approach allows businesses to make informed decisions and optimise various components of their system. These include updating code or databases, or restructuring resource allocation.

Using these insights to regularly review and adjust your scaling strategies ensures that your system is prepared to handle increasing workloads and adapt to changing demands.

By optimizing performance and resource utilisation, you can enhance scalability and achieve efficient resource management.


Cloud scalability is one of the core benefits for businesses using cloud computing.

By flexibly scaling up or down based on changes in demand, businesses can operate efficiently while reducing costs. 

Scaling up during peak times increase costs. However, the return on this cost is often worthwhile. And sometimes scaling down to reduce costs and remove any unneeded resources is also useful. Auto-scaling is perfect for both of these scenarios.

Cloud platforms that offer auto-scaling help companies automatically adjust resources based on predefined rules or metrics. Human intervention is removed, ensuring your infrastructure dynamically scales to match demand.

There are three main types of scaling to consider: vertical, horizontal and diagonal scaling.

While vertical scaling is focused on improving existing server hardware, horizontal scaling focuses on scaling out by adding more servers or machines. Diagonal scaling combines the strengths of both.

Overall, cloud scalability is a key benefit of cloud computing. Organisations gain short and long-term advantages from it as they adapt to customer demand and market conditions.

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