by Craig S. Mullins, president & principal consultant, Mullins Consulting, Inc.

The Rising Need for Database Scalability

User on mobile, tablet, and laptop looking at the same data.Modern IT organizations rely on the ability to quickly react to changing business trends and technology forces. The days of long development cycles requiring many months or even years are in the rear-view window of history. And as systems change, usage changes, and that requires effective ways to adjust for fluctuations in demand.

Database Management Systems are at the heart of most applications and, as such, the ability to scale database systems elastically is important. This series of blog posts will examine the various methods used to accomplish database availability and elasticity, as well as introduce a new architectural option for database scaling.

Industry Trends Impacting Scalability Needs

Today’s business systems are undergoing a revolutionary transformation to accommodate digital transformation. There are four over-arching trends that are driving digital transformation today summarized by the acronym SMAC: social, mobile, analytics and cloud.

Organizations are increasingly looking to move away from high-performance static hardware to dynamically changing, virtual, commodity infrastructure.

Mobile computing has transformed the way most people interact with applications, while social media has transformed the way people interact with companies and each other. Just about everybody has a smartphone, a tablet, or both. And the devices are being used to keep people engaged throughout the day, no matter where they are located. This change means that customers are engaging and interacting with organizations more frequently, from more diverse locations than ever before, and at any time around-the-clock. End users are constantly checking their balances, searching for deals, monitoring their health, and more from mobile devices. And their expectation is that they can access their information at their convenience.

Cloud computing, which is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data and applications, rather than a local host, enables more types and sizes of organizations than ever before to be able to deploy and make use of computing resources—without having to own those resources. Applications and databases hosted in the cloud need to be resilient in order to adapt to changing workloads. In addition, the cloud’s intense distribution of compute and storage resources means that responding to scale is no longer about just throwing sheer power at the problem, but also about marrying the right resources in the right location to an individual problem.

Finally, the Big Data phenomenon has boosted the amount of data being created and stored. The amount and types of data that can be accessed and analyzed continue to grow by leaps and bounds. And when analytics is performed on data from mobile, social, and cloud computing, it becomes more accessible and useful by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

In addition, as cloud and container-based environments become ubiquitous, organizations are increasingly looking to move away from high-performance static hardware to dynamically changing, virtual, commodity infrastructure that can be purchased or rented in a “pay-as-you-go” manner or that can be easily reallocated when not in use.

The impact of these forces on our computing infrastructure is that systems need to expand and contract easily to meet an ever-changing demand. Organizations need to be adaptable and to be able to scale their systems as workload changes.

Next week on our blog, Craig will define some common terms used when discussing database scaling.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of a larger white paper written by Craig Mullins that explores database scaling options. You can download the full white paper here.


Craig MullinsCraig is president & principal consultant of Mullins Consulting, Inc., a consultant for datAvail, and the publisher/editor of The Database Site. His experience spans multiple industries (banking, utilities, software dev, research and consulting).

Craig writes for many computer/IT publications, having authored articles for popular IT and database journals and web sites including Database Trends and Applications, TDANTechTarget and others.