Web Scalability Overview

The scalability of a website is the ability of a process, network, or system to handle the increase in workload when resources are being added, which often is the hardware. Scalability is accessible through the ratio of an enhancement of the performance of a system to the rise in the used resources. Moreover, it means the ability to add extra resources while keeping the central node structure intact.

They say “Time is money”. However, consider how this influences the success of a product, particularly for web-based applications. An average user expects a web page to load in just a couple of seconds. Some of the more patient ones would wait up to ten seconds before leaving the site for good. Joanna Baretto from TatvaSoft Australia said, “Imagine thousands of users simultaneously want to use the web product. They all expect it to perform the operation desired within two to five seconds. You likely are to think more about the application’s performance. Can it handle the load? How many loads could it handle and maintain a reasonable response time at the same time?.”

Tips to Build Scalable Applications

There are three elements to a web-based application, namely, network connectivity or the Internet, the application server, and database server. In turn, this leaves four areas to apply scalability:

  • Disk I/O
  • Memory
  • Network I/O
  • CPU
  • Static resource tier, such as web servers, browsers, JavaScript, CSS, Bootstrap, and client-side languages like HTML.
  • Permanent storage tier, including data access mechanisms like ORM, SQL, GQL, operating systems, file storage, and others.
  • Business logic tier, like server-side scripting and programming languages, including Python, PHP, Java, application servers, and server operating systems.

The first task, therefore, is to establish where the bottlenecks happen.

Brief Survey of Key Factors in Application Scalability

Application Scalability

You could organize the web application segments most impacted by the scalability and performance issues in these groups:

You could organize the web application segments most impacted by the scalability and performance issues in these groups:

  • Static resource tier, such as web servers, browsers, JavaScript, CSS, Bootstrap, and client-side languages like HTML.
  • Permanent storage tier, including data access mechanisms like ORM, SQL, GQL, operating systems, file storage, and others.
  • Business logic tier, like server-side scripting and programming languages, including Python, PHP, Java, application servers, and server operating systems.

Performance Tuning

This assumes performing a massive troubleshooting session to determine scalable web architecture gaps as well as other concerns that cause performance losses. Typically, it could include the web application’s source code refactoring, analysis of the present configuration settings, and performing several investigative procedures as well into the different tiers in web application.

Consider These Best Practices

  • Creating a list of specific functional necessities. While this may appear like a no-brainer, most of the requirements usually are summed up as “an application must load fast” without specifically pointing out the exact number. Consider setting very precise goals, like 98 percent of “create an account’” requests must be responded in less than a couple of seconds on a web server.
  • Automating. If faced with time and budget constraints, make use of automated testing to measure the performance and load of an application.
  • Never over-optimize. This means that the team should fix only the issues that don’t meet the requirements. The more an application is optimized, the more code is required to fix it, which could end up with new unexpected problems as well as longer time of delivery.
  • Caches are no exception when it comes to boosting scalability. The concept is that the most recent requested information is to be requested again. Thus, the information should be kept upfront where it’s quickly retrieved. Keep in mind however that more web application exterior cache could improve performance, but they could also pose a set of other limitations.

In understanding how to boost the scalability and performance of a web-based application, the first step is tuning the performance. The procedure requires less budget or time and less invasive.

Vertical Scaling

This occurs when adding more resources to one computer. Consider for example that in order to process all incoming requests, one of the web applications would need more physical memory. However, it’s constrained to the single node capacity. To resolve this, more memory should be added, the bandwidth or I/O capacity to the node and CPU, thus minimizes the application’s flatness.

Vertical scaling usually is considered simpler and less costly since it does not need any significant code changes. Nonetheless, the major draw of the approach is that it may not be able to resolve the issue for the long term since you could not just add more and more resources to the node. You would hit the wall at some point posed by the operating system’s own limitations.

Horizontal Scaling

Horizontal scaling happens when more nodes are added to work in parallel. The application could get more resources not only from one node but from numerous ones. The best practice in this case for web applications is to first decouple them with the use of a tier system, as earlier mentioned.

One of the most common approaches to boost a big scale application’s response time is separating the permanent storage tier into a different node. You now have several freed resources for the rest of the application to run quicker.

Boosting Database Performance

When you have determined that the databases are the reason for performance congestion, there are some strategies to try. The simplest is to implement a fix in the database queries caching. You could run a fast query logging analysis to find out which run most frequently and which takes longer. You can even use Stored Procedures if you are using a SQL-based database. You could later cache responses to the two kinds of queries, so they would stay in the web server’s memory and could be retrieved faster, somehow reducing the database load.

If you like to learn more about database design, coding and optimization, you can take any of our self-paced classes:

Introduction to Database Design

Learn SQL Programming by Examples

Introduction to No-SQL Database Design

Learn Graph Database Design by Examples


Conclusion

Web application scalability is crucial for success an online business or website. When an application is scalable, it could provide room for growth, offer great User Experience, and gives a better return on investment. If you are thinking of serving thousands or even millions of users with your application, then you have to plan it right from the start.

Creating a web application is one thing. Making it scalable, however, is another matter. Developing a highly scalable architecture requires careful planning, expertise, and of course time.