Scaling up, scaling down

Lessons from history

Do you remember bebo, myspace, ping and Friends Reunited? Some gone, some much diminished. CompuServe used to be the big beast of email; Alta Vista was a search engine of note; on the hardware front Nokia and Blackberry have had their woes recently, but may yet recover – who knows?

Just because Facebook and Twitter dominate social media at the moment, Google dominates search engines and Amazon is way up there in the ‘everything’ market, this may not always be the case.

When surfing water, things can go horribly wrong quickly. But there may be a high degree of expectation of catastrophe. Things can go horribly wrong on the web quite quickly too, so you should prepare for market collapse so that you survive it.

Which brings us to scaling

Tickets to Glastonbury Festival 2014 sold out in less than an hour and a half. So for an hour and a half, they needed all the server capacity they could get hold of, followed by zilch. This is a prime example of scaling up and scaling down.

If you have a product or service that has the possibility of either hitting pay dirt big time or is something like a two-day online conference then you should be considering the scaling issues.

Scaling up means that you need to have the capability to deploy your website to multiple web servers which these days means using ‘the cloud’. In principle the cloud is a bunch of servers in a large warehouse that you can call upon as needed and pay for by the minute, hour, week or month as appropriate.

If you can scale up, you should also be ready to scale down.

Scaling is not necessarily confined to your website. If you are selling something physical, then there are the scaling issues around fulfilment to consider.