Helping Your Business to Make A Scalable Web Application Architecture

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#Cloud
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October 29, 2020 13 min read

The statistics below demonstrate the quantity of Facebook users globally that has been exponentially growing over the last five years. This year, the number of customers will reach US$1.69 billion, compared to US$1.34 million in 2014.

fb users

Another example is Google, with its 1.5 billion Gmail users. Due to such a colossal flow of users, Facebook and Google have to keep up with it and perform rapidly, allowing millions of people to access their accounts immediately, and use all of the functions available hassle-free. That’s an example of scalability in action.

Most companies necessitating scalable sites will never reach the scale of the modern social media giants or e-commerce industry leaders, but they do need to take into account the possible increase in customers and load. For this purpose, organizations have to be ready to scale their architecture anytime.

What Is A Scalable Application?

Scalability can be referred to as a system’s capability to augment or reduce productivity and cost, taking into account the application’s processing requirements. Moreover, scalability implies the ability to add or withdraw extra resources while preserving the application’s integrity.

In a low-scalable system, augmenting resources results in only an insignificant increase in productivity, and after reaching a certain point, adding the resources does not bring any value.

An application can be called scalable if it can adapt to a boost or decline in the load without causing downtime. An application can work perfectly with the current load, but it is far from being scalable if it doesn’t mesh with an extra load.

key features of scalable apps

When scaling on-site IT resources, it’s vital to understand the difference between horizontal and vertical scalability. Vertical scaling implies changing a part of your system with something that gives better performance. Replacing a processor with a more powerful one is vertical scaling. Horizontal scaling involves adding new features to a system, such as incorporating a new server to offload your existing server.

Why Businesses Need Scalability

It’s inevitable for modern enterprises to finally pay particular attention to elevating the on-site apps’ scalability. Consider these reasons as signals to start implementing measures for increasing scalability:

  • The flow of new users grows, which could lead to decreased responsiveness of a particular app.
  • When the load grows due to adding to the app new products, it’s time to add extra resources.
  • When maintenance expenses exceed the norm, the capability to scale can help to cut them.
  • Scalability plays a pivotal role in facilitating server maintenance.

A company can have many reasons for elevating its system’s scalability. It is crucial to remember that a business can scale its IT infrastructure on demand with a suitable set of tools in place.

Defining Scalable Web Application Architecture

A scalable and flexible architecture can scale up or down to coordinate with the existing workloads in a system. Simply put, if the workload all of a sudden exceeds or lacks the capacity of your current resources (software and hardware available), you can scale up or down the system to be in line with the actual load.

Several solutions exist that might aid in building a scalable and modern web application architecture.

Cloud Storages

The recent report states that infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions, like cloud storage, are expected to reach US$50 billion by the end of the current year, up from US$31 billion in 2018.

Moving some workloads to the cloud can be an excellent solution for businesses that necessitate additional and flexible data repositories. Storing your data, applications, and other resources in the cloud will mean preserving them on distributed servers, available at your disposal anywhere, and with the opportunity to expand this storage as demanded. Cloud storage providers ensure that your data is accessible anytime.

Caching

Using the cache is the most commonplace solution, which can streamline the work of your system. The results of frequent requests can be saved in a small data storage, allowing visitors to access them instantly. This shortens the waiting time for the application user.

The caches best work in the following situations:

  • To get data from the database faster, create as many nodes with the caches as possible. The more requesting nodes you have, the quicker users get the requested information.
  • To avoid multiple issues and failures, you can create a centralized cache for all the nodes.
  • To make caches closer to the user, you can distribute them across all the nodes.

Thus, caching is one of the widespread ways to add scalability to your architecture. However, the most popular one is described below.

Microservices

To build a scalable web app architecture, you can employ microservices. In contrast to monolithic architecture, which can scale only in one dimension and keeps the entire code in a single code hosting platform, microservice architecture is an application structure that incorporates a collection of services loosely united with each other. These services interact through lightweight protocols, such as HTTP, AMQP, or a binary protocol like TCP.

microservice architecture

Microservices characteristics are as follows:

  • Services are relatively small, which makes it easy to manage code and cut build time.
  • Adding new features in microservices is easier and faster than in monolithic apps.
  • Services are deployed separately, letting you do releases as often as you want.
  • Microservices are easy to scale and to utilize.
  • Developers can utilize different technology stacks in various services.

Benefits of Microservices

There are numerous benefits coming with microservice architecture. The survey by Dzone reports that 63% of businesses are now exploiting microservices and have achieved better employee efficiency, more satisfied customers, and cost reductions on infrastructure and other IT instruments.

microservice architecture benefits

Let’s find out some other advantages:

Flexibility. Since microservices are deployed autonomously, it’s easier to correct errors and handle app releases. You can expand the functionality of an app with new features without remaking the entire structure and undo the update in case of a failure. Apps with traditional architecture don’t work this way – if an error occurs in one place, it can cause the downtime of the whole system. In addition, developers have the freedom to pick a tech stack that best works for their project and product, making the building process flexible, fast, and efficient.

Faster project development. Collaboration in small teams allows you to manage microservices (since they are also relatively small) in a very speedy manner. Unlike large projects, the moderate ones are more effective, build apps faster, have seamless communication, fewer management issues. All this promotes the agility of the project.

Scalability. The most crucial advantage is scalability. Because developers scale microservices separately from each other, you can scale up or down subsystems on demand. This removes the need to scale the entire application at once.

IT businesses that utilize microservices report that they enhanced scalability of apps by 64%, achieved faster releases of new products and services by 60%, gave their teams more independence by 54%, and increased app resilience by 50%.

scalability research

Isolation. Microservices are beneficial thanks to their isolated and resilient nature. If one of the services fails, the team can exploit another service without blocking an application’s work. Isolation makes microservices an impeccable instrument for small IT teams, agile projects, and products that need to be scaled regularly.

Challenges of Microservices

The benefits of microservices come along with challenges. Here are some of the issues to take into consideration when building scalable web application architecture using microservices.

microservices architecture challenges

Complexity. Though it may seem that managing microservices is easy, the practical side is a bit different. Even if each service is simple, altogether, they make the system more sophisticated than the traditional model.

Difficult to create a testing environment. Making a small service that is connected with other services needs a different approach than creating a multilayered or monolithic web app. Available tools do not always suit for building microservices. Restructuring existing computer code across service boundaries can be challenging. It is also tricky to test service dependencies, in particular, when the application is expanding rapidly.

Hard to maintain due to tech diversity. Microservices allow you to use different tech stacks, which may result in various problems. The excessive amount of various programming languages and frameworks can make the application hard to manage. It can be useful to implement some standards within the project without overly limiting the flexibility of the employees. This can be applied to cross-cutting concerns such as logging.

Lack of data consistency. Data integrity might be compromised due to the independence of each separate service. Try to make your data eventually consistent in order to mitigate inefficiencies associated with untrusted and erroneous data.

Lack of mature specialists. To succeed with microservices, a business has to ensure having a skilled DevOps team. Consider implementing log correlation to smartly correlate accesses across the entire infrastructure. Also, microservices have a distributed nature, making it crucial for the team to have various skills and great working experience.

Difficulty in keeping compatibility. Creating different new versions of products must not affect the related services. Since microservices can be updated anytime, accurately develop a design to avoid issues with back and forth compatibility.

How To Do Efficient Scaling?

To succeed in making your web application architecture scalable, a business should follow the specific requirements. Keep these useful tips in mind:

General tips include:

  • Ensure design functions properly, even if the whole scale alters up to 20 times.
  • Avoid using unreliable and untested cutting-edge technologies, as using them can lead to unforeseen consequences.
  • Try to offload your database by reducing the open connections and transactions. Caches can be used to offload resources.
  • It’s best to store only the necessary data that makes your business or application better.
  • Separating processes into asynchronous queues to be done by fewer employees can lead to a boost in performance.
  • Limit the interaction between application and network, as it takes longer than in-memory communications.
  • Change just one variable at once because altering too many ones at a time might worsen your application’s work.
  • Use automated testing whenever possible, as this ensures that testing and re-testing are performed sequentially with the same settings.

Scaling Your Applications With Special Techniques

Let’s have a look at the prevalent and most beneficial methods to design a scalable web application architecture:

Using indexes is aimed to discover little pieces of information in a massive fragment of data. Index tables enable a fast search to manage all the requests and get the required responses quickly. Pay attention that growing data amounts can make these tables unmanageable.

Asynchronous queueing is applied when there is often a need to manage multiple requests simultaneously. In this situation, it is reasonable to start the asynchronous execution of queues. This allows visitors to perform other actions while the query is being processed. This approach differs from the traditional approach when it takes too long for a visitor to get the response.

Load balancing (LB) plays a pivotal role in top-performing and robust web app architectures. The special hardware or software is used to distribute network’s or application’s traffic across servers and conduct checks to ensure the web architecture’s overall effectiveness.

Grid computing is a network where each computer’s resources are distributed between every other computer in the system. It can empower an organization to execute separate processes at a time such as financial close management (FCM), running payments for workers, and executing other kinds of financial activities.

Open application programming interfaces (APIs) are supported by many companies which allows them to have full access to all the services programmatically. An integrated form such as REST APIs, which offers more flexibility, can also empower microservices to interact with various languages from the partner’s side.

Practices To Successfully Scale Your IT Resources

Following the best tips for developing an architecture that scales apps on demand can be helpful for your endeavors while achieving the desired scalability in your current or future project.

1. Approve scaling initiatives with all partners
If your current application can scale up and down as your business demands, it already satisfies the necessity to expand the business capabilities. No need to enhance the ability to scale when apps are already flexible. Make sure you clarified with the stakeholders the following points:

  • Gather data to show to your partners that your web app doesn’t need scaling.
  • Prove that projects requiring scalability improvements can be expensive and complicated.

2. Specify your demands for scaling using metrics
Supposing that your web app certainly needs scaling. Then determine the problematic parts of the app requiring scalability by using the proper metrics, as follows:

  • Network Input/Output time
  • Disk Input/Output operations
  • CPU (central processing unit) time usage
  • Utilization of memory

3. Leverage the right tools
Once you’ve identified which scalability issues to look out for, you need to systematically monitor your application’s performance against the metrics mentioned earlier. Monitoring tools usually provide lacking information to help you highlight points necessitating additional attention.

4. Involve PaaS vendor
Since cloud computing continues to be mainstream within most businesses adopting it, it’s recommended to cooperate with a PaaS (platform as a service) provider. Such providers deliver hardware and software to customers, enabling them to build, run, and handle business applications without the need to create and manage their own infrastructure.

The global PaaS market is expected to increase and get valued at US$28.4 billion by the end of 2023. The PaaS vendors are highly popular as they usually ensure the proper work of networks, servers, data repositories, third-party software, operating system, database, and more. That’s why scaling your infrastructure with extra resources can be very easy with a reliable PaaS provider.

PaaS benefits

Outsourcing companies that offer cloud solutions have flexible pricing (pay-as-you-go model). Consider Innovecs as a trusted cloud computing provider with a great and proven experience.

5. Choose the proper architecture type suitable to scale apps
Choosing the right type of web application architecture is a crucial factor to consider. We’ve already pinpointed how useful microservices can be. This type of architecture suits you if the application project is expected to have higher customer volumes, various features, which could work autonomously.

6. Define what database is best for scaling your apps
When the secure application architecture is selected, it’s time to choose the database. Of course, there is no universal solution to selecting databases, but there are some tips to pay attention to:

  • Regularly analyze the requirements of the web application – spot the data you need to keep and what to get rid of.
  • As an option, you can use a relational database for high scalability (MySQL or PostgreSQL).
  • Also, another database type called MongoDB has become popular with developers of all kinds who work with scalable apps using agile methodologies.

After choosing a suitable database, incorporate it into your app. If you hire an outsourcing cloud computing provider, it will be a smooth and hassle-free process because most providers have significant experience.

7. Opt for an appropriate programming language
The choice of programming languages and technology stack has a dramatic effect on scalability. According to your preferences, there may be many solutions:

  • Those who prefer Java should consider the Spring framework that offers a comprehensive programming and configuration model for modern Java-based enterprise applications.
  • For those who prefer Ruby on Rails, the experienced PaaS provider can help as such companies typically have broad-spectrum expertise in programming languages.

Partnering with a reputable IT partner like Innovecs can be helpful as mature specialists will help you choose the most appropriate framework.

Summary: Easily Scale Your Project With Innovecs Expertise

Bringing together all the information about achieving scalability in web applications, there are some key insights to keep in mind:

  • The ability to scale is a critical part of a web application that shows high productivity. If your business aims to grow and broaden its functionality and load in the future, the scaling capabilities have to be taken into account from the start.
  • Achieving app scalability helps to execute requests rapidly, reduce the operational costs, deliver better UX, grow revenues, and elevate customer loyalty.
  • The most popular way to scale your project is using microservice architecture. It allows for dealing with each separate service independently without affecting the work of the entire application.
  • You can hire an outsourcing software development company that will help you scale your ongoing or new project.
  • Incorporating such methods as caching, using indexes, load balancing (LB), queueing, and grid computing can make your resources more reliable, scalable, flexible.

In general, assembling all the recommendations, practices, and tips we have collected in the article can help a company build scalable web applications. Also, a dedicated team of Innovecs is always ready to launch a project of any complexity and successfully run it driving your bottom line.

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November 28, 2019
Is Microservices Architecture Only About the Benefits?
Microservices architecture is not a new thing in software development. However, today this approach to building applications is actively gaining traction. In 2018, Camunda conducted research and surveyed 354 companies to determine the value of microservices adoption for fulfilling digital transformation initiatives. Around 63% of respondents mentioned that the transition to microservices helped them improve user experience, employee efficiency, and save on development and infrastructure tools. The respondents also identified top reasons why they had switched to microservices:Additional reasons for switching to the microservices Today, developing a monolithic program comes with various challenges. For example, the more complicated the composition of the monolith is, the more difficult it is for developers to properly maintain it. Let’s take a look at a scenario where there are many teams working on the same monolithic program. If team B fails to deliver high-quality code, it blocks the other teams from pushing their error-free code to the environment. So, all teams wait till team B fixes the code and tries to deploy it again. All teams are dependant on each other, which results in constant delays in delivering features.Additionally, adopting new technologies while having a monolith application can be a very slow process. For example, if you want to apply a new framework, you must rewrite all the code, which can also become a huge challenge and lead to crashes. To minimize these risks, software companies have started actively using microservices application structure. However, this “monolith → microservices” transition may come with its own challenges. So, in this blog post, we are going to cover the following topics:The peculiarities of microservices architecture and some examples Benefits of microservices and drawbacks that can occur along with these benefits Successful cases of switching to microservices structure
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