How does Auto-Scaling Work When Hosting a Website? Cloud Computing 101

Scalable Website Hosting

The growth of cloud computing has exploded. As more business turns to the cloud to create and share documents, host websites, and store data the advantages are becoming more apparent every day.
One of the greatest advantages of cloud computing is scalable hosting. Because of this scalability, computing resources can be purchased and put on line in minutes via direct API requests as opposed to the “old school” process of purchase and wait. In simple terms, a scalable architecture allows the various components of the architecture (for example, storage, software, data transmission) to work independently.  Let’s define auto –scaling and look at how it works

What is Auto-Scaling?

Cloud computing has made it possible to customize usage based on need. This is known as scalable hosting. In the “olden” days, when your dedicated onsite server reached maximum capacity, whether bandwidth, RAM, or processing power, you would need to invest in additional hardware. If your needs were temporary, for example, a major project coming online, once the need subsided, you’d still have the hardware, cost and capacity you had added.

The cloud makes scalable hosting easier and better. Using the cloud, it’s possible to programmatically add or delete servers using an API dependant upon your needs. This is what auto-scaling is all about.  By using auto-scaling, it’s possible to save money by eliminating infrastructure when your capacity or demand is low, and increase it, immediately, on an as needed basis. Your customers will never notice any type of slowdown because your infrastructure is operating automatically on an as needed basis.

How Does Auto-Scaling Work?

Because the cloud is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and is built using a scalable architecture, functions are spread independently among servers within a larger network. This is known as a distributed architecture. That means that one “service module” works to handle data, another module handles web hosting functions while a third independent module runs the application side.

The service doesn’t care what interface is calling, which database the data requested is located or what server it runs on. This independence is the root of auto-scaling. Scaling can be accomplished vertically within a network by adding additional resources to an existing server like memory, disk or processors. Because the cloud is virtual, resources can be distributed immediately and much more efficiently.

The second option is horizontal scaling. This consists of adding multiple resources to a work unit, in essence spreading the workload out among multiple systems. This allows for an instantaneous increase in resources, as demand requires. For example, let’s say your website is hosted on Togglebox which auto-scales.  This scalable hosting would come into play when your website receives an unexpected increase in traffic. The servers would automatically increase resources with no loss of speed so your visitors never notice any slowdown. When traffic returns to normal the system scales back down to normal levels.

Scalable hosting through auto-scaling ensures customer satisfaction by ensuring that your infrastructure is performing at peak efficiency based on demand.