Data centers today are facing the reality of a tremendous increase in data capacity requirements. While this new boost comes with the promise of better business benefits for data center owners, it does bring with it the challenge on how best to deliver the additional data needs to their customers.

Should you scale out or scale up?There are two options and possibly a third hybrid approach that data center managers have in front of them to increase the scale of operations.

Scale Out: This basically means adding more servers to the current infrastructure. In other words, the ‘quantity’ based approach. The benefits are simplicity, faster time to implement, and flexibility. The trade-off, of course, is on the space front, as so many more boxes will require that much more space. The cons also include increased data center facility and management staff overhead, latency, and troubleshooting issues. Scale out is typically a popular choice for cloud-based data centers as they service multiple clients that require data storage in the range of petabytes.

Scale Up: This is the other alternative where the data center opts for higher capacity scientifically designed servers to increase computing capacity. This is a ‘quality’ based approach. Ways to scale up are to opt for increased processor speeds, more memory, optimal network resources and high performance database management systems. Though the trend for scientific solutions has decreased, proof of which is the Unix server reporting a 10% decline in year on year revenue in 2013. The scale up is coming back into popularity with those data centers that are pro-virtualization. This solution also uses software to address the additional scaling needs, and often results in increased cooling and power costs. The advantage is that there are many commercial off the shelf solutions (COTS) from vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard that provide all the features bundled into a single package.

Both scale up and scale out are good options and one of them must be selected at the right time for upgrading your data center. Which one works best for you depends a lot on your current infrastructure and your expansion plans for the future. To get the right input on this topic, do get in touch with us at Lifeline Data Centers today.

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.