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7 minute readHow to Balance Elasticity vs Scalability in Data Centers

Balance Scalability and Elasticity When Buying Hardware

Businesses need to ensure that their data centers are well equipped to handle business demands. A sustainable database and database management system must be elastic and scalable at all times. Custom-built systems can provide the flexibility you need, but reconfiguration might be cheaper. You can extend the life of your hardware to help achieve your elasticity and scalability goals.

You Need Both Elasticity and Scalability

In this era of digital transformation, businesses both big and small are making tactical and strategic commitments to technology as a principal driver of competitive success. To reap the fruits that technology brings, businesses need to ensure that their databases are well equipped to handle business demands. At a very minimum, a sustainable database and database management system must be elastic and scalable at all times.  Since databases are significant investments, it makes sense for businesses to understand these essential database concepts so they can make informed purchase decisions and know how to balance elasticity and scalability for optimum performance.


In simple terms, elasticity is the capacity of a system to allocate available technical resources as needed. During business operations, a database processes a wide array of workloads. To process the data as quickly as possible, the system provisions or deprovisions resources based on the current demand. With elasticity, resources are taken away or added to prevent under or over-allocation.

If resources are under-allocated, performance is slowed and application abandonment follows. On the other hand, allocating too many resources to a service equates to waste and this can slow down other services. Since all databases deal with elasticity differently, it is imperative to know the degree of elasticity the brand you are considering purchasing possesses. Flexible databases, with a high quantity change tolerance and manageable clustering, are some qualities of elasticity.


Scalability refers to a system’s capacity to handle an increase or decrease in workloads without negatively affecting its productivity. A scalable system can, therefore, be said to be an adaptable one. This is essential since workloads change from time to time. During business operations, there will be times of high and low demand and these may or may not be predictable. High workloads require more resources to prevent the system from slowing down. With a scalable system, resources are added as they are needed, to ensure the system can handle increasing workloads.

Scale databases: Horizontally and Vertically

Since scalability is one of the primary concepts of a database management system (DBMS) and databases, it is important to know whether they can be scaled horizontally or vertically. In some cases, the two can be combined. Each option, however, comes with pros and cons.

Horizontal Scaling

Also known as scaling out, horizontal scaling is the process of adding more hardware resources to a system. It typically involves adding new servers to an already existing system.

Making the Determination to Horizontal Scale

One reason why your business should consider horizontal scaling is the declining cost of hardware. Operations that once required big computers, to perform all of the needed functions, can now have the functions accomplished with more affordable commodity systems. Scaling horizontally, however, comes with a few challenges.

Since a system is more complex after scaling, it becomes more challenging to manage. Moreover, lag time can exist between the new servers.

Pro Tip: To prevent lag time, your business can opt to purchase a custom-built system rather than adding additional lower-cost, more commoditized units.

Vertical Scaling

More resources, such as more powerful CPUs and memory, are added to an already existing server in vertical scaling. Adding or replacing resources to a server results in greater performance, but these gains often need downtime and reconfiguration.

Making the Determination to Vertical Scale

The benefit of scaling vertically is improved system performance. The disadvantage is that during the process there is downtime. The cost of scaling your database largely depends on the hardware that you already have. Scaling up will be expensive if you have to buy new hardware. On the other hand, vertical scaling is less costly if you have already invested in hardware.

Pro tip: It will probably cost you less to reconfigure your existing IT hardware than to configure and buy new hardware.

Scalable Hardware

When buying IT hardware, you need to ensure there is enough room for growth. It is a good idea to buy hardware with processor expandability for running databases and other workloads that need intensive number crunching.

For instance, you can purchase servers with motherboards that support multiple processors, then add processors as needed. Disk space is another aspect to take into consideration. As usage increases and your network grows, you will need enough storage to handle the data loads.

Pro tip: You should ensure that the hardware you buy comes with expandable memory that will meet your business needs. 

The objective is to always think ahead when buying hardware. Look at your current needs as well as what you will need in the next 2 or 3 years. The longer your hardware can serve you, the lower its total cost of ownership, and the better ROI. You can decrease the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) significantly by making scalability a priority.

If you are looking to improve the performance and availability of your hardware, the first thing that you might consider is buying new. The problem is, this can be an expensive endeavor that will cut deep into your budget.

Instead of sourcing for new expensive hardware, you can work with a Third Party Maintenance provider, like Reliant Technology, to help you optimize what you currently have. With expertise in Third Party Maintenance, Reliant Technology will maintain your IT hardware beyond the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) EOL (End of Life) and EOSL (End of Service Life) dates.

In addition, Reliant Technology can help you find certified, refurbished hardware, that are just as reliable as new equipment, easier to find, and cost considerably less. By extending the life of your hardware, you can achieve your elasticity and scalability goals.

Comprehending the concept of scalability and elasticity will help your business invest wisely in hardware. In addition to saving money by being informed about how to invest, you can increase your ROI by having hardware that lasts longer, and you will be better able to serve end-users with minimal downtime.

Rely on Reliant Technology

When you need to learn more about your hardware’s scalability and elasticity, our experienced engineers and techs are here to help you. Contact us today to learn how to improve your networking equipment.

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Reid Smith-Vaniz

by Reid Smith-Vaniz

Reid is the founder and CEO of Reliant Technology and for 14 years has pursued his mission to remove the pain associated with maintaining IT infrastructure. Reid writes on common challenges related to maintaining, servicing, tracking, budgeting, and upgrading technology.

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Reliant Technology Cares

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About Reliant Technology

As Data Center and storage experts, Reliant Technology is available to provide consultations and solutions to your server backup needs. Our experienced engineers and IT specialists are ready to help you determine the best option for your Data Center. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, or if you would like to submit an article for possible publication, please, get in touch with us.

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