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How To Decide Whether To Scale-Up Or Scale-Out DB

Updated on February 20, 2014

Scale-Up or Scale-Out

In the world of database management systems there are essentially two ways to increase the size and throughput of the database. This decision to Scale-Up or Scale-Out a database is usually a decision made in conjunction with the database administrator, company executives and the finance department. There are number of considerations or steps needed in order to decide between a Scale-Up and a Scale-Out before implementing either solution. In the fast-paced world of technology the definition of this how to process needs to be reevaluated on a continual basis.

Database Sharding


10 Decision Making Points Explained

• Define the size of your database needs. As businesses realize the importance of information as a core commodity to their survival more information is being collected, analyzed and distributed. However technology is also keeping pace with technological improvements to hardware, software and information process evaluations. Databases that were considered large 10 years ago by today’s standards are considered tiny. Get realistic projections of your database size from your IT department, database administrator or through a third-party audit to have a clear picture moving forward. Understanding what defines the size of your database will aid in this decision.

• Research what factors determine current database size standards. There are some general factors that can determine if your database requires an increase. These factors include data volume which is the total number of records, tables or overall total size in terabytes or petabytes. Determine what your current hardware specifications are as even a small database on a constrained system can provide large problems. Determine the throughput of your current database management system, which essentially means its total usage, through the variety of usage measurements available. Lastly determine what software is being used for database management administration and how its implementation is affecting throughput. The database is defined by these four major factors and its strength is measured by the weakest of these four.

• Consider Scale-Up versus Scale-Out DB options. In the world of IT asking this question from 50 professionals will generally provide 50 different answers. In other words it depends on your current specifications and future requirements whether you should consider a Scale-Up option or a Scale-Out DB solution. Scaling up your current operation for database management is usually considered in the lower tiers of database volumes, until such a volume or throughput reaches the level for commodity machines. Once the database solution has passed the level of using standard commodity machines scaling up require significant capital investment in equipment that generally results in dollars spent per performance drops significantly. It is at this point that you need to consider a Scale-Out DB option which uses commodity machines in tandem to provide the necessary solution.

• Choose a DBMS architecture. There are five major architecture considerations when dealing with large databases. A general axiom in database management states the less the database has to do the faster it can do it. Various aspects of the database architecture include NoSQL, SQL, Sharding, database virtualization, memory balancing, and decisions such as RAM options versus solid-state drives. Most of these decisions are technical in nature and require the guidance of the database management administrator which can also be provided through third party Scale-Out DB vendors.

• Solve performance bottlenecks. One of the largest reasons why businesses need scaling solutions is because of performance bottlenecks created in the current systems. Essentially these issues should be diagnosed by an IT professional that has partnered with your company in order to establish an adequate performance solution. With database solutions there are generally trade-offs between speed performance, security and accessibility.

• Research cloud partners that meet your specifications. Assuming your company is beyond the Scale-Up option finding a Scale-Out cloud partner that can meet your large database design needs requires a vendor that can provide ultimate flexibility in scaling. Scaling, access speed and security of the three top considerations when considering a third-party vendor for scaling out the database. They should not only meet your current customized requirements but they should also be able to provide long-term scaling abilities in both volume directions.

• Ensure database availability. One of the most important aspects of cloud partners in scaling out a database is the assurance of 100% database availability. This requires multiple data centers with information that is written on to multiple servers in various geographic locations. This can often provide faster local solutions as latency is lowered by being closer to the server.

• Evaluate backup and data recovery requirements. Every businesses needs regarding data backup and data recovery is different. Some businesses do not need data backup is consistently as others, while some industries that are federally regulated require immediate and full data backup. Using the quality of third-party vendor with multiple data centers including database duplication in multiple locations can often provide database backup from one location to others if required in disaster events. Data recovery refers to the amount of down time when there is system failure. A company that cannot afford any downtime should consider a highly capable database management partner that can provide consistent and reliable 100% up-time service. This is usually accomplished by duplicating data across multiple data centers but also ensuring a higher cost.

• Request for proposal. In the world of big data requesting for proposal from vetted third-party vendors can provide companies the ability to compare suppliers. This comparison model ensures that the best possible price that meets all current requirements and specifications is considered. These proposals should address all the steps listed in this how to guide.

• Implement Scale-Out DB. In order to provide cost efficiency in the long term, scaling out databases using third-party infrastructure can often cut IT budgets and provide same level of service options for big data solutions. Using a third-party vendor to Scale-Out existing databases provide a cost-effective solution that provides a continual cutting edge competitive advantage with the right partner.




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