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What is scalability?

Scalability is the ability of a computer system, application, or infrastructure to handle increasing demands while maintaining performance and reliability.

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It enables a system to adapt to growing workloads (or anything that pushes the system past its original capacity) and meet changing demands. In effect, scalable systems are built to expand to meet any volume of users.

Scalability is essential to in-app communications, software development, and all things cloud computing. What happens when systems come up short on scalability? For example, Disney launched the Disney Applause app for its streaming media, only to spark massive backlash when the app crashed under a flood of new users and signups. It’s important for businesses to pay attention to scalability when building or evaluating hardware and software.

The two types of scalability

  • Vertical scalability (scaling up): Increases the capacity or performance of a single resource, such as a server or machine, within a system to handle a higher workload. This can include upgrading hardware components, increasing memory capacity, and expanding storage to enhance the performance of a single server or machine.

  • Horizontal scalability (scaling out): Adds more resources to a system to distribute the workload across multiple resources to improve system-wide performance. It involves adding more servers, instances, and nodes to allow for better load distribution, redundancy, and fault tolerance.

Benefits of scalability for in-app communications

  • Performance: Scalable systems maintain optimal performance under increased workloads. This allows for consistent message delivery, quick data processing, minimal downtime, and a better overall app experience for users. For example, Sendbird can support over 1 million concurrent user connections and 500 million messages per day, across any device or platform.

  • Flexibility: Scalability allows a business to accommodate growth, scale resources as needed, and adapt to a range of changing demands. This allows you to be flexible in how you handle fluctuations in usage and corresponding data volumes to ensure performance needs are met.

  • Reliability: Scalable systems support both consistently high user engagement and a high-quality user experience. They handle growing user bases, increasing data volumes, and unpredictable workloads. Since individual components can be adjusted and removed, these systems are also highly resilient to error.

It’s important for businesses to consider scalability when building apps as well as choosing software and service providers. A scalable system accommodates growth, increased usage, and meets the needs of expanding user bases. Sendbird and other leading in-app communication platforms are designed to scale, allowing a business to grow quickly without worrying about its message deliverability and user experience.

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