What is the Difference Between Horizontal and Vertical Scaling? with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

The main difference between horizontal and vertical scaling is that the horizontal scaling refers to adding multiple computing devices or nodes to the system to improve performance while vertical scaling refers to adding more resources to a single computing device to improve performance.

Scalability refers to handling the increasing amount of work in a capable way. In other words, it is the ability of a system, network, or process to handle growing work. Scalability can be applicable to both hardware and software. In order for a system to handle more work, it should receive more power or there should be more systems. There are two types of scaling called horizontal and vertical scaling. Horizontal scaling is adding more devices to the system while vertical scaling is adding more resources to a single device. Both methods increase system performance, but scaling out is more cost effective and easier to implement than scaling up.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is horizontal scale?
     – Definition, Functionality
2. What is vertical scale?
     – Definition, Functionality
3. What is the difference between horizontal and vertical scaling?
     – Comparison of key differences

Key terms

Scaling Out, Scalability, Scaling Up

What is horizontal scale?

Horizontal scaling refers to adding more and more computing nodes or devices to the system. It is also called scaling . More nodes will make the system more powerful. There is a linear correlation between the number of computers and performance. For example, if a single system can process a certain amount of data, a system with five devices can process data five times faster. Also, the computing devices used in scaling out are the computers in common use. These commodity computers are profitable. Therefore, it is less expensive to scale out to create a high-performance system.

What is vertical scale?

Vertical scaling refers to adding more resources to the existing computing device or node. It is also called expand . If more amounts of data need to be processed at once, it is possible to use more CPU and more memory. If more storage needs to be added, more disks can be added. One application of vertical scaling is adding more resources to a single computing device and using that device to create multiple virtual computers.

                                                 Figure 1: Horizontal and vertical scaling

Vertical scaling helps improve system performance. On the other hand, its main drawback is that it is only possible to make the system powerful up to a point. For example, vertical scaling is not suitable for handling big data because a single powerful system is not enough to handle a large amount of data.

Difference Between Horizontal and Vertical Scale

Definition

Horizontal scalability is the ability to increase capacity by connecting multiple hardware or software entities so that they all function as a single logical unit. Vertical scalability is the ability to increase the capacity of existing hardware or software by adding resources. This explains the basic difference between horizontal and vertical scaling.

Synonyms

Downscaling is another name for horizontal enlargement, while upscaling is another name for vertical enlargement.

Cost

Horizontal scaling is cost-effective than vertical scaling because it is easier to add multiple computing devices instead of making a single device powerful enough to handle the processing. This is a big difference between them.

Applications

Also, while horizontal scaling is used in distributed systems, vertical scaling is used in virtualization.

Conclusion

The difference between horizontal and vertical scaling is that horizontal scaling is adding multiple computing devices or nodes to the system to improve performance while vertical scaling is adding more resources to a single computing device to improve performance. Today, entry-level computers are cheaper and more powerful, and scaling-out is more effective.

Reference:

1. Scalability Overview, Scaling Out, and Scaling Out, HandsonERP, May 1, 2013, Available here.
2. “What is vertical scalability (scaling)? – Definition of WhatIs.com. ”SearchCIO, available here.

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