What is Scalability? How to Develop Scalable Web Applications?

Scalability is how effectively a web app can deal with the sudden rise in demand. Here’s a guide on how to develop scalable web applications.

5 min read
Aug 31, 2021

Scalability is the pivotal aspect while developing any software and product. Today’s modern web applications do not only require to perform well but are also required to perform better when there’s a drastic rise in the demand from new and concurrent users.

Thus, it has become mandatory for web app owners to develop scalable applications. A successful scalable web app is what can efficiently handle the excessive load of users. It is designed to scale as and when needed without disrupting the performance and user experience for end-users.

Before we get into how to develop a scalable application, let’s understand what scalability is and why it has become so important factor.

What is Scalability?

The true meaning of scalability is the elasticity of a particular system in terms of scaling up and scaling out. It generally refers to the capability of digital products and systems to deal with the potential rise of the workload when further resources are added. It also means how a system performs by adding resources while keeping the core structure intact.

Scalable web apps are designed to handle sudden peaks in user demands with ease that too without trading off on the performance and creating disruption in user experience. Technological advancements have enabled developers to build modern web apps with growth and scalability in mind. Technologies like microservice architecture, caching, distributed systems, and cloud have added new feathers in scalable web app development.

Why Scalability is an Essential Factor for Web App Development?

Since the web sphere is adapting to modern trends, users have quickly adopted this trend as well. They want data to load faster without much disruption and be available 24/7, irrespective of how many others are accessing the same data.

Google applications are the best example as they are fast, available anytime, and don’t deter in performance even if there are millions of users accessing them. On top of that, Google Apps also deliver a great user experience thanks to their brilliant UI design. Web apps also must follow a similar track, otherwise, be ready for users abandoning your applications for the ones that offer greater scalability.

Without harnessing the power the scalability has, it’s hard for a web app to survive in the long run as it’ll simply fail to sustain the same performance over the years. So, understanding and implementing scalability principles right from the start is crucial for the web application’s life.

How to Develop a Scalable Web Application?

A web application can be scaled either horizontally or vertically. Vertical scalability means enhancing the existing system with additional resources while horizontal scalability refers to adding further nodes or hardware machines. For instance, adding new servers to distribute load is part of horizontal scaling whereas upgrading the existing server to perform better with additional resources is part of vertical scaling.

But adding extra resources to a poorly designed and developed application won’t significantly improve the performance once it hits the threshold. Thus, while designing and developing a web app, the developer team needs to take care of certain aspects, which complement added resources in order to achieve true scalability.

Here, we present certain aspects to consider to ensure your web app is scalable and offers consistent performance even when there’s a sudden rise in the load or users.

1. Microservices Architecture

Developing modern and scalable web apps heavily relies on microservices and decentralized architecture. Such kind of architecture has coupled components and lightweight protocols, which are used to lay the foundation for scalable web app development.

Unlike monolithic architecture, microservices contain a collection of small and autonomous services. This approach helps the development team to test, maintain, and upgrade those services individually without impacting the whole structure of the web app.

This results in a quicker time-to-market, enhanced responsiveness, zero downtime, improved security, and shorter throughput. But most importantly, it enables web apps to scale up real quick without disrupting user experience for end-users.

2. Framework

A web app has two basic layers called front-end and back-end. The framework technology varies for the layers. The front-end is the visible part of the web app which consists of the user interfaces. The development of the front-end requires a selection of a suitable framework that loads all the front-end elements instantly. Moreover, properly designed front-end of web apps helps to eliminate the scalability issues too.

The back-end is where all the logic is developed for whatever happens on the front-end. It interprets all user requests, communicates with the database, and sends the response back to the user. All the dynamic processes and data storage management happens on the back-end, making it more prone to have several bottlenecks.

Thus, the back-end of the web application should be built on any of the multifunctional programming languages such as PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, etc. for higher scalability requirements.

3. Caching

Caching may seem like a small thing at first, however, it has a significant impact on the web application’s scalability. Albeit, caching is like a best friend to scalability. It’s essential to have your outsourcing service providers working on the user-facing project to implement caching on appropriate levels to eliminate the re-rendering of pages every time.

Caching helps reduce the page load time, improves data retrieval time, lowers the data re-rendering costs, and does many more things as well. That being said, incorporating caching has its price and must only be used where necessary.

If your web app is a dynamic one and up-to-date content needs to be displayed, caching implementation is not necessary. However, if your web app is static and content does not change over a long period, implementing caching is a great way to deal with high user counts.

4. Load Testing

The true measure of the scalability of a web application is uncovered with load testing prior to deployment. With realistic simulation, checking the web app’s performance against the actual user traffic and data the app is expected to encounter will give you a realistic view of scalability. Doing so will also reveal the areas that need improvement and help find if there is a further requirement for load balancing.

Dealing with potential scalability issues prior to deployment is essential as you won’t have to deal with them post-deployment. And if that comes to it, the cost of further development, customization, load balancing, downtime reduction, performance enhancement, and other things will become high.

It never hurts to make sure that your web application is truly scalable before it gets out in the world.

Summing Up

Building a truly scalable web application is not a piece of cake. And if you have prioritized a smooth workflow and higher user load capacity, you need an outsourcing service provider who can help you build modern and scalable web applications that too at cost-effective rates.

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