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When to scale up – or scale out

When to scale up – or scale out – your data center

Find the right approach for your server workload and infrastructure

You know the story: Every year, corporate IT infrastructures demand constant, exponential performance growth. In order to increase data center output over time, you’re faced with a critical business decision: do you scale up ... or scale out?


Scale up (vertical scaling)

Practical definition: Increasing the performance potential of your data center by upgrading existing servers

Typically, scaling up is all about upgrading the RAM and/or processors in existing servers in order to achieve a higher level of performance. When upgrading your CPUs, you’ll want to upgrade your memory accordingly, as higher-end CPUs require more memory capacity to optimize compute capability.


Pros


  • Cost-effective way to increase performance and extend the lifecycle of existing hardware
  • Less licensing costs
  • DRAM and CPU upgrades are easy to install and implement
  • Lower power consumption since you’re running and cooling fewer servers

Cons


  • Older hardware can often be outperformed by newer hardware
  • May experience vendor lock-in, which limits future upgradeability and software support
  • Not a long-term solution – servers can only be upgraded to their performance threshold


Tips for scaling up

  1. Upgrade your CPUs if they’re outdated and limiting performance
  2. Utilize the maximum memory capacity in each server
  3. Swap out RDIMMs for high-density, high-efficiency LRDIMMs to achieve an even higher level of performance (if your systems are compatible with LRDIMMs)
  4. Replace hard drives with enterprise SSDs to access hot data almost instantly


Scale out (horizontal scaling)

Practical definition: Increasing the performance potential of your data center by replacing existing servers and/or adding additional servers

When you’ve exhausted the performance potential of existing servers and/or need to move beyond a performance ceiling, scaling out is often the right approach. Essentially, scaling out allows you to scale infinitely (as long as you have the space and power supply to do so). When scaling out, you can always scale up in the future as your server workloads increase.


Pros


  • Allows you to move beyond the constraints/performance ceiling imposed by older servers
  • Allows you to take advantage of the latest and greatest memory, storage, and processor technology
  • Newer server technology makes it easier to run fault tolerance, monitor your systems, and minimize downtime
  • Allows you to scale up in the future

Cons


  • Higher hardware acquisition costs
  • Higher power and cooling costs
  • Higher licensing costs
  • Higher networking equipment costs (more routers and switches are often required)
  • Larger data center footprint


Tips for scaling out

When making a long-term scale out investment, optimize your purchase by opting for servers with the latest technology. This gives you the flexibility to scale up in the future and add high performance memory and storage components as workloads increase.





Scale up vs. scale out: which approach is right for your organization?

In just few questions, we'll help point your research in the right direction.*


1.
How many physical servers do you currently have?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
2.
What memory technology do your servers utilize?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
3.
What CPUs are you using?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
4.
What memory module density are you using in each populated DIMM slot?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
5.
How many DIMMs per channel are you populating?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
6.
Based on your current upgrade cycle, when do you expect to replace your current servers?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
7.
How much of your data center's floor plan are you currently using?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
8.
Do you use virtualization software?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
A.
If yes, how many VMs per server are you running?
Please enter a number value (ex. 1,2,3 etc.)"
B.
If yes, how many VMs per server would you like to run?
Please enter a number value (ex. 1,2,3 etc.)"
9.
On a scale of 1-5, how important is data center power consumption to your organization?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
10.
What's your current (or future) budget for improving server performance and efficiency?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.
11.
On a scale of 1-5, how early do you tend to adopt new data center technology?
Please select one of the following options to proceed.



Based on your answers to several initial scaling questions,

we suggest taking a closer look at scaling up your data center.

Based on your answers to several initial scaling questions,

we suggest taking a closer look at scaling out your data center.

Based on your answers to several initial scaling questions,

we suggest carefully weighing the pros and cons of both approaches based on your long-term performance objectives, workload growth projections, and organizational opportunities and constraints. Your answers indicate that either approach could likely work in your environment, so you want to choose the one that best compliments your IT management strategy.




When you’re ready to scale, use the Crucial Advisor tool to find compatible server memory upgrades in 60 seconds or less.


Compatible upgrades. Guaranteed. Find the right upgrades with either of our easy-to-use tools.