Cloud computing has revolutionized information technology by making unlimited scalability available to every startup. With this power and simplicity, the temptation to skip traditional engineering fundamentals is strong. However, our decades of experience measuring and operationalizing technology throughout hundreds of organizations, indicates that there are several key steps that many firms bypass, increasing risks and costs.
Scalability is achieved in one of two ways: horizontal or vertical. Horizontal scalability is the ability to increase your compute resources by adding similar nodes or servers to a particular architecture tier, such as an application pool or database cluster. Vertical scalability is the ability to add more resources such as CPUs or RAM to individual servers. Horizontal scalability is essential to most businesses and the focus of this article.
The majority of technology company executives we encounter believe that they have successfully implemented horizontal scalability. However, data from the Corsis Confidence Index (CCI), a proprietary technology benchmarking standard that measures confidence in a company’s IT operations, tells a different story. Our assessment data shows that critical engineering control processes which make horizontal scalability efficient and reliable are frequently overlooked.
For this article’s analysis, we evaluated 65 technology-enabled companies in the healthcare, ecommerce, construction, data analytics and professional services industries with revenues ranging from $30 million to $100 million. We converted hundreds of data points, or TechIndicatorsTM, into a 1 to 5 scale, where one equates to the lowest level of confidence and five equals the greatest level of confidence.
Overall, companies evaluated in our study scored above average for their support of horizontal scalability (4.0). However, many of these high-achieving companies were missing the engineering controls to reap the full benefits. Scores were low for the following essential TechIndicators: