Most modern software startups begin with an MVP: a minimum viable product with nothing but the core features. MVP makes sense for a quick start: it reduces time to market and helps avoid large spendings before you know if it all works out.
Still, suppose your MVP was successful: your customers appreciated it a lot, and your startup is not a startup anymore. You can now engage a custom software development outsourcing agency and with its help add new features to your app or website. Of course, it will engage new customers — otherwise, why should you do it all? Scalability becomes a game changer: to scale is to grow.
So, what is software scalability, how do you know when it’s time to scale, and how to do it, after all? Read on to find out!
What is scalability in software development?
In simple words, scalability shows how easily your product can grow and change according to your business needs. When we speak about software products scalability, we usually mean the site or app capabilities. When you scale your software, you help it manage more data and keep working smoothly even when many customers are using it at once.
A simple example from the non-IT-related world: a startup producing clothing has gained a loyal customer pool and significantly expanded its reach. It turned out that the demand had become very high, so the brand decided to produce more items and thus make more sales. Scaling might mean hiring more workforce to serve a large customer pool. However, it requires a lot of time and investment and might not be worth it after all.
Software businesses are regarded as more scalable: once software, for instance, a mobile app, is developed and released, the business is done with enormous spending. However, software scalability might still become an issue if the product doesn’t use technologies that allow it to stay agile.
For example, you are running an eCommerce store and have decided to launch a very promising advertising campaign. You expect this campaign to result in much heavier traffic than it was before, like two or even ten times more. However, your server is not designed for such a capacity. What will happen? Your site or app will just crash when all the engaged customers rush off to check out your store.
When we speak about scalability in software development, we mean how you can make your systems more robust. There are two means of how developers can do it: vertical and horizontal.
|Vertical scaling||Horizontal scaling|
|You scale your server, not the software. |
The app or site’s code remains untouched, and you focus on adding more power to your server, helping it manage larger piles of data. To scale vertically, you need to add more RAM or CPU to the server.
|You divide your software into several parts and use multiple servers to store them. Thus, you both change the code and install additional hardware to manage bigger workloads.|
Do I need to scale up?
Remember our clothing brand example? Such a shop might want to scale, but on the other hand, it can do perfectly fine as a small business. In other words, not all businesses must be scalable. However, scalability is usually inevitable for a successful software company. New technologies, new customer needs, and an enlarging customer base is always the driving force for scaling. The critical thing here is to decide the right time for action.
You are ready to scale when:
- Your company has a stable income; it overcame a startup stage, doesn’t suffer from a lack of budget, and you are sure of the customers' flow. Of course, you must know it for sure, so take your time to track and monitor data;
- Your customers have new demands. In the IT-related business, it usually means increasing traffic: for instance, when there are Black Friday or Easter sales;
- Your MVP was warmly greeted in the market and became a demanded product. You plan to add new features and expect new customers so that scaling will become a must soon. For instance, you launched a car rental app and decided to introduce a referral program so that your existing customers would engage the new ones;
- You faced the first issues with your product. Suppose your app worked perfectly fine when browsed by ten customers at once. However, it started suffering from lags and crashes when the traffic increased.
How to make sure my product is scalable?
As we have already mentioned, the safest option is to consider scaling from the very beginning. Luckily, modern technologies allow you to create software immediately, ready for changes as soon as you need them. Here are the essential points you should discuss with your custom software development team or in-house developers before you start working.
Choose the right stack
The right solution will depend on your business needs. If you are not so well-versed in software development, here are the top scalability trends you can discuss with your team:
- Cross-platform development instead of the native development for mobile apps;
- React and Angular frameworks for frontend development;
- Node.js for enterprise-scale apps that need to manage large amounts of data at once.
If you entrust development, including technical requirements, to an outsourcing team, make sure they know what you require or will need in the future. For example, these needs may involve the estimated number of customers using your software or the amount of data you store.
Cloud microservices architecture
When you opt for cloud infrastructures, you kill two birds with one stone:
- enable adding new features and performing seamless updates very quickly;
- boost the reliability of the site or app’s performance.
Unlike monolithic architecture, which implies that all parts of your software are united and can’t work separately, microservices consist of many small parts. Therefore, when you require any update at one of the microservices, you don’t need to change the whole infrastructure. Instead, you change the components of such an infrastructure independently and can even use different stacks and languages for each of them.
Besides, cloud solutions allow you to grow your software: you can also shrink it if it’s better for your needs at the moment.
We prepared a detailed review on monolithic vs. microservices architecture:
What can I do to succeed in scaling my software?
- Opt for horizontal scaling. In most cases, horizontal scaling becomes a much more effective solution. You don’t stick to a particular offline server with limited resources and flexibility. If you use cloud infrastructure, horizontal scaling will be a natural way.
- Integrate new applications. Various third-party software can be an essential part of scaling. For instance, when running an eCommerce platform, you need to keep track of customers, sales, revenues, and other data. To do it, you can connect your store to various ERP and CRM systems. In addition, as your business grows, you may need more advanced tools, so integrating them will be an essential part of scaling.
- Add more storage space. When your app or site needs to keep more data and accept heavy traffic, cloud infrastructures allow you to solve the performance issue and expand capabilities relatively quickly. If you don’t use cloud infrastructures, consider migrating your existing systems: it might take time but make your life easier in the future.
- Hire a dedicated development team. Dealing with IT staffing firm is typical for scaling a business. This solution helps implement new features and make essential updates much quicker: you don’t spend much time hiring and onboarding new developers. Besides, IT staff augmentation allows you to stay agile. We mean, you can always stop or suspend a contract with your dedicated team when you no longer need it. It sounds much better than firing your full-time employees after the project is over, right?
Contact us to hire seasoned software developers for your business.
How we can help
Feel inspired to scale your software, develop new features for your product, and need to extend your in-house team? We are ready to help and provide you with IT staff augmentation services. What does it mean? Here are the two options:
- extend your in-house team: when your staff needs help;
- hire Geomotiv dedicated team: when you need to hire a fully set team.
In most cases, we provide you with a ready team within 2-3 weeks. But, of course, the deadline depends on your business needs and on how complicated your product is.
How soon can we augment a dedicated team? The contract implies we have 30 days for it. However, we usually manage it quicker: from 2 to 3 weeks.
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