Understanding Virtualization Terminology: Scaling Out vs. Scaling Up

Virtualization A growing number of businesses and other organizations are beginning to realize the advantages inherent to a adopting a managed services model for their IT needs.  Choosing a managed services provider, however, as well as working with one already selected, presents challenges of its own.  One such challenge is the need for management and other personnel to understand the sometimes-complex terminology commonly in use by those who provide IT solutions for a living.  For example, computer services specialists may use phrases such as ‘scaling out’ and ‘scaling up’ without realizing that a non-technical audience may not be familiar with the key difference between the terms.

Scaling out

Scaling out refers to the practice of deploying additional servers in a computing environment so that each of the servers in use will consume fewer resources than was true before the scaling out operation.  Scaling out can be useful to decrease the demand level on servers, particularly when the previous set was running at full capacity too much of the time.  After scaling out, the system will have more flexibility to add new applications and data loads.

Scaling up 

Scaling up refers to the practice of lowering the number of servers in use.  This will have the effect of loading additional resources onto each server.  It can be a useful technique to employ in situations where an organization had too much server capacity to begin with.  In such a case, consolidation can help to reduce costs.

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