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Preparing for Growth by Scaling Out It\'s inevitable for many organizations that at some stage their existing IT capacity will require expansion. It\'s often a sign of success of course - more business and thus customers means more infrastructure is required to support them.

Whatever the reason, planning for growth and implementing extra capacity in the most appropriate and cost-effective way is key.

Label: IT capacity, infrastructure

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In general, scaling is the catch-all term to mean growing an infrastructure so as to increase its capacity. It implies a general increase in scope by adding to it rather than a wholesale replacement.

Scaling up or scaling out?

There are fundamental differences between the two terms and they are definitions of two completely different routes to achieve IT infrastructure growth.

  • Scaling up - means expanding what you have. For example, you might boost the capabilities of existing hardware by adding memory.
  • Scaling out - where demands can be met dynamically with the expansion of capability not necessarily met by adding to the hardware infrastructure. A virtual solution where software controls the hardware resources to create the required computing power is a prime example.

Advantages of scaling out compared to scaling up

With scaling up, a decision has to be made concerning how much extra capacity is required. If the prediction proves incorrect over time, then the equipment could be underused if estimated demands prove lower than expected. Alternatively, if demands prove higher than planned for then more investment will be required which could prove costlier than judging requirements correctly in the first place.

With scaling out, current and future demands are taken care of dynamically. Because the software controls the hardware resources, they can be managed to cater to current demands ‘in the moment' and there's enough flexibility to meet future demands whether they increase, decrease or stay the same.

A degree of ‘hands on' may be required in terms of re-configuration but this is usually a short task all controlled from a console. In certain cases, changing demands can be controlled by the software automatically.

How to scale out for growth using software

To scale out storage you'll require basically two software packages; a hypervisor and a virtual storage SAN (Storage Area Network). If you choose wisely, your new software should be compatible with your existing hardware - if you're using commodity X86 servers you'll be on safe ground.

Hypervisors such as the market leading vSphere from VMware or Hyper-V from Microsoft are the obvious choices, and a virtual SAN such as the one developed by Virtual SAN StorMagic will ensure a fully flexible and compatible solution.

Inbuilt growth potential

A combination such as the one above will ensure effective management of current and future growth. This includes providing IT services to remote locations such as branches or offices (ROBOs) or harder to reach outposts such as oil rigs and weather stations.

Whether you're a new business initially managing a stable of websites and a small pool of customers with designs on growth, a virtual scale out solution could be the cost effective and flexible way to future proof your set up.


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