Successful companies looking to grow face unique challenges in order to continue meeting demand. Many companies must expand their IT capabilities, making them more complex and costly. Scaling IT infrastructure also requires more expertise and active management.

When referring to IT, scalability typically refers to the ability of a system to grow and meet increased demand. However, it can also mean the ability of a system to decrease capabilities in the face of lower demand. Many companies are finding that managed IT services are an effective approach to increasing scalability with respect to growing their businesses.

Scaling Up vs. Scaling Out

When talking about managed IT and scalability, it’s important to make a distinction between scaling up, or vertical scaling, and scaling out, or horizontal scaling.

Scaling up is typically focused on adding storage infrastructure in order to maintain or improve processing performance. Scaling out is typically focused on adding performance infrastructure in order to maintain or expand client-facing functionality and performance. End users may not be able to distinguish between these two types of scaling, but each type solves specific IT issues by expanding infrastructure.

Scaling Up

When the workload on a system causes it to hit its performance limits, it is usually time to scale up infrastructure. Storage optimization solutions can increase performance and capacity, but they have their limits. In this situation, users will experience greater latency and performance bottlenecks caused by limited processing capacity. For example, a manufacturing company that uses an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system may start to have difficulty handling large volumes of data related to production, inventory, order processing, and more.

Companies going through a growth period tend to see increases in the amount of data that their system processes. Scaling up to increase capacity typically involves adding more memory capacity and processing power. This increases a server’s capacity to handle growing amounts of data and maintain an acceptable level of performance.

When compared to scaling out, the strengths of scaling up include:

  • Processing speed. Adding memory and/or processing power improves lagging performance and allows the system to handle a bigger workload without slowing down.
  • Ease. Scaling up does not change software configurations or network connectivity. This means scaling up can be done quickly and easily.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Because scaling up has a limited scope compared to scaling out, it is a more cost-effective solution. Furthermore, physical space and cooling requirements are much lower when adding additional memory or processing power compared to adding more performance capabilities.

It’s important to point out that scaling up isn’t a magic bullet solution. If it involves upgrading to a new server, migrating data and software can require a significant amount of labor and result in lengthy downtime. If scaling up involves expanding on existing equipment, it will result in diminishing effectiveness over time. This approach also reaches its limit when the individual components of a system cannot be scaled up anymore and must be updated.

Scaling Out

Typically done using the cloud, scaling out addresses many of the limitations of scaling up. There’s no need to buy new hardware; the upgrade process is simpler, and it is generally a more efficient approach. Scaling out is particularly useful for replicating digital services as a company expands its client base. The ideal situation for scaling out might be a streaming service like Netflix that must scale streaming to its users around the world.

However, scaling out isn’t the exclusive domain of massive online service providers like Netflix. Scaling out is an effective long-term strategy that allows the company to scale its infrastructure during many years of steady growth. Scaling out is also helpful during unexpected, devastating major events like economic depressions because components can be easily removed as demand decreases and added again when demand returns.

The benefits of scaling out include:

  • Simpler updates and upgrades. If scaled-out architecture is based in the cloud, it is not constrained by on-premise hardware, and the provider typically covers any updates and upgrades on their side.
  • Adaptability. Resources can be scaled up or down quickly based on demand.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Because scaling out is more incremental than scaling up, it is easier to control the cost. It’s also easier to add or subtract resources based on demand, which means less waste and inefficiency.

Scaling out is not the best approach if the issue is limited memory or processing power. Also, scaling out can require significant upfront costs, which can be offset by long-term returns that are provided. Ultimately, an organization’s specific needs should determine whether it takes a vertical or horizontal approach to scaling. Generally speaking, a vertical approach is used to handle increases in data processing, while a horizontal approach is used to handle surges in demand for digital services that a company is providing.

That being said, most organizations use a combination approach, scaling up for data and scaling out for service capacity. Companies need to consider the demands of their system, budget constraints, and growth projections in order to make the best decision. The best approach aligns a scaling strategy with short- and long-term business objectives.

Scaling Your Business with Managed IT

Managed IT and scalability go hand-in-hand, whether you’re talking about scaling up or scaling out. If a company needs to expand its data processing ability, a service provider can assist with the design, installation and maintenance associated with scaling up. A service provider can also provide hosted cloud services, cloud storage and backups to the cloud.

Service providers are in the business of facilitating access to the latest technology to their client companies, which would rather not make big investments in software or hardware. This means cost-effective scalability, and managed IT also allows a company to easily adapt to shifts in demand.

Managed IT can also facilitate scalability through a number of different solutions, including network management, network monitoring, wireless access, large-capacity data storage, routine backups and disaster recovery. On-staff experts can customize these solutions as part of a client company’s strategy and provide ongoing support after any initial solutions have been provided.

Security While Scaling

As IT infrastructure is being scaled, it’s critical to adjust and possibly upgrade security controls. Not doing so could increase exposure to cyber threats, and it could also mitigate some of the benefits of scaling.

When it comes to security while scaling, there are a few things to consider. First, it’s critical to address changes both on-premise and in the cloud. There is a tendency for companies to prioritize on-premise security over cloud security, but both are critical when scaling.

Second, it’s important to set controls based on the session. Running all controls for every session can be wasteful. Controls ought to be applied based on the level of security needed in a specific session.

Third, after controls for a session type have been established, those controls should be applied consistently to subsequent sessions of the same type. For instance, if a session involved receiving encrypted data, security controls could potentially be limited to the use of decryption software.

A managed service provider will consider these and other factors to ensure that a client company remains secure and compliant throughout the scaling process. Providers also make it their business to stay up to date with the latest security threats and strategies. Providers can also follow up with a comprehensive package of security solutions, including firewall support, encryption tools and ongoing vulnerability assessments. 

Companies that offer managed IT and scalability can also guide changes to security protocols and best practices. They can also help to ensure that a company remains compliant with important privacy regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the European General Data Protection Regulation throughout the scaling process.

How Managed IT Services Make Scaling Easier

There’s no getting around the fact that scaling makes an IT infrastructure more complex and more expensive. Managed IT services can make scaling simpler than going it alone and more cost-effective in many situations.

The easiest way to provide scalability and flexibility is with cloud services. The best providers can connect their clients with managed cloud networks that offer the convenience of a public cloud with the security of a private cloud solution. The fact that regular updates are included with typical services makes the cloud a critical part of managed IT and scalability.

As organizations grow, taking care of IT costs becomes more essential. Managed IT services generally come with easy-to-understand and transparent pricing. Rather than coping with erratic IT costs, companies can take comfort in fixed monthly fees that include comprehensive services and support. 

By combining many services under one banner, organizations can simplify their vendor management, decrease overhead costs, and take advantage of outside expertise. Providers have experts on staff who can recognize cost-saving possibilities, suggest efficient solutions, and help set targeted IT budgets.

Many providers also offer business IT services that help clients with everything from IT planning to resource allocation. They can help companies align a technology strategy with growth targets. As organizations scale, a technology roadmap can support both current and future expansion plans.

Grow Your Business with Managed IT Services from Taylored

For three decades, Taylored Systems has been a managed services provider furnishing clients in Indianapolis and beyond with IT managed services. We offer a variety of managed IT solutions to help businesses’ IT landscapes stay secure and thrive.

We help companies implement a well-designed, secure enterprise network with the right combination of IT solutions. The following managed services solutions can create a happy and productive office with predictable and consistent IT costs:

  • Additional data storage. Data storage is a critical component of scalability. In fact, a lack of data storage often drives scaling initiatives. We have provided data storage solutions to countless clients from central Indiana and beyond. We can offer many different options for expanding your data storage capabilities with both physical and virtual solutions.
  • Managed cloud services. Given the rising number of cyberattacks in recent years, companies need to consider managed cloud services that include robust security protections. Our cloud services include the ability to continuously monitor both performance and security.
  •  Network Assessment. If a network isn’t running at peak performance, the organization using it is losing money. Our experts can assess your current network capabilities and recommend optimization solutions or suggestions for scaling. We can help your organization have a comprehensive and efficient network that’s customized for the way you do business.
  • Network Design and Installation. An effective network starts with efficient design and proper installation. Our experts can set up your network for success, ensuring that it is stable, productive and secure.
  • Network management. If your organization doesn’t have the resources to maintain a secure network 24/7, we can provide network management as a service that includes a strong security component. Through our service, you can have a fully transparent network that includes information on every device and component. We can also provide customizable notifications, real-time data, centralized remote access and more.
  • Cybersecurity. If security isn’t a central part of your scalability plan, then there’s a good chance your plan will go awry. We offer a range of security systems and can put together a custom suite of solutions for your organization.
  • Consulting services. An outside perspective can be invaluable when it comes to scalability, and managed IT services from Taylored Systems can include consultation on everything from data storage options to network security. Our experts have seen a lot over the decades and can bring all of that experience to bear when you leverage our IT consulting services.
  • Firewall and router configurations. Improper firewall and router configurations can both expose the company to cyberattacks and cause disruptions to service. We can customize your firewall and router configurations to ensure that your IT infrastructure remains safe and efficient.

Whether you are looking to scale your capabilities or enhance customer service with managed IT, you should consider working with Taylored Systems. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions.