Scaling Vertically vs Scaling Horizontally

Be smart or throw money at the problem

Martin Thoma
Mar 31 · 2 min read
Image by Martin Thoma

Vertical Scaling: Scaling up💸

The simplest solution when your server struggles is to buy a more powerful one. It might be more RAM, a better CPU, or a better network connection. Maybe even just a bigger hard disk.

Horizontal scaling is pretty cheap in every respect when you start with a tiny machine. For example, the difference from a Rasperry PI to a small PC is huge in computational power, but the cost is very small. At some point, improving the power even a tiny bit makes the machine way more expensive. Image by Martin Thoma

Horizontal Scaling: Scaling out

Suppose the disk space is your problem. You have a machine that has 8 TB of disk space. Such a disk costs about 180 EUR. You see that you will need 16 TB of disk space in the close future. You could scale vertically and buy a 16 TB disk for maybe 400 EUR. But what will you do when you need 32 TB of disk space?

Vertical scaling is buying a bigger machine, horizontal scaling is buying multiple machines.

You can always buy another machine, but at some point, you cannot buy a bigger machine. Think of Aircraft: When you have more passengers, you can go up to a Boeing 747. After that, you need to use multiple airplanes.

Plain and Simple

Explain concepts in just a few words

Martin Thoma

Written by

I’m a Software Engineer with focus on Security, Data Science, and ML. I have over 10 years of experience with Python. https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-thoma/

Plain and Simple

Some concepts are hard to put into context. Examples and contrasting the concepts to related ones help

Martin Thoma

Written by

I’m a Software Engineer with focus on Security, Data Science, and ML. I have over 10 years of experience with Python. https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-thoma/

Plain and Simple

Some concepts are hard to put into context. Examples and contrasting the concepts to related ones help

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store