Good apps bring decent traffic, great apps attract users in droves. Both, however, should be scaled periodically to account for any kind of growth or decrease. After all, no one likes an app that is slow and frustrating to navigate!
This shows an app’s room for growth as more consumers use it. Application scalability focuses on how much activity the app is generating and if it’s scaled properly, the quality of its performance. The common unit used is Requests Per Minute, or RPM. Although it may seem simple, application scalability is a complex process that takes into account the framework of your system, the information stored in it, and how many people your application is used by. More people equal more RPMs, which can lead to a slow system and mediocre performance speeds due to this influx of throughput. Throughput is simply the amount of information (RPMs) that travels through your application. Proper application scalability helps you improve your application’s system so this throughput doesn’t exceed what your app can handle.
Even if you added more Central Processing Units (CPUs) or allowed for the system to have more memory, you would be making it significantly difficult for the app to handle the increased throughput. This is not advised—nor is waiting to scale your app once throughput has overloaded the system. Application scalability done right would be a preemptive measure before the app overloads on throughput.
Problems & Disadvantages to Scaling
The most common problems with application scalability generally come with a larger user base and RPM count. However, there are also programs that try to combat problems as they happen—sometimes causing more issues.
For example, one such program is Ruby on Rails, or Rails for short. It attempts to predict and account for a developer’s needs regarding an application. Beginners and expert developers are allowed to create apps on their own, but misconceptions about what application scalability is can lead to an overloaded system and slow performance. Programs like this can have good or bad influences on an application, though it is ultimately the developer’s responsibility to know what elements makes an app run smoothly.
Other common problems of application scalability include:
- Limitations with the app’s server
- Improper querying, indexing, caching, and managing of memory
- Insufficient resources or lack of access to CPUs and tools for monitoring data
- Weak code and excessive dependence on third party programs or software
- ‘bullet’ and ‘rack-mini-profiler’: Helps organize information in an app’s system
- ‘update_all’: Updates everything in the system associated with a certain applied value
- ‘SQL SUM’, ‘COPY’ or ‘DISTINCT’: Allows you to apply a specific value to data in a system (i.e. ‘SUM’ adds data, ‘COPY’ copies data, etc)
- ‘map’ vs. ‘pluck’: Both are used to obtain a specific piece of data, but ‘pluck’ bypasses the gathering of the data that ‘map’ does
- ‘size’ or ‘count’ vs. ‘length’: Used to count data; ‘length’ encompasses all the data, ‘size’ is similar but more specific, ‘count’ looks at only specific data given an attributed value
The Big Catch
While application scalability is important, there’s no universal way for developers to scale their apps using one method. Each app is different and contains varying amounts of data. By learning the proper way to scale your application, you can implement a process that works for you while maintaining a high-performance speed and not overloading the app’s system.