Digital transformation

Three ways to intelligently scale your IT systems

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Digital transformation, with its new paradigms, presents new challenges to your IT infrastructure. To stay ahead of competitors, your organization must launch innovations and release upgrades in cycles measured in weeks if not days, while boldly embracing efficiency practices such as DevOps. Success in this environment requires an enterprise IT environment that is scalable and agile – able to swiftly accommodate growing and shifting business needs.

As an IT manager, you constantly face the challenge of scaling your systems. How can you quickly meet growing and fluctuating resource demands while remaining efficient, cost-effective and secure? Here are three ways to meet the systems scalability challenge head-on.

1. Know when to scale up instead of out

Scale ITIf you’re like many IT managers, this scenario may sound familiar. You run your systems of record on a distributed x86 architecture. You’re adding servers at a steady rate as usage of applications, storage and bandwidth steadily increases. As your data center fills up with servers, you contemplate how to accommodate further expansion. As your IT footprint grows and you can’t avoid increasing server sprawl despite using virtualization, you wonder if there’s a more efficient solution.

There often is. IBM studies have found that once many workloads reach a certain threshold of processing cores in their data center, it often becomes more cost efficient to scale up instead of out. Hundreds of workloads, running on 50 or so processing cores each, require significant hardware, storage space and staffing resources; these requirements create draining costs and inefficiencies. Such a configuration causes not only server sprawl across the data center, but sprawl at the rack level as racks fill with servers.[i]

By consolidating your sprawling x86 architecture into a single server or a handful of scale-up servers, you can reduce total cost of ownership, simplify operations and free up valuable data center space. A mix of virtual scale-up and scale-out capabilities, in effect allowing for diagonal scaling, will enable your workloads to flexibly respond to business demand.

IBM studies have found, and clients who have embraced these studies have proven, that moving from a scale-out to a scale-up architecture can save enterprises up to 50 percent on server costs over a three-year period.[ii] As your system needs continue to grow, a scale-up enterprise server will expand with them while running at extremely high utilization rates and meeting all service-level agreements. Eventually a scale-up server will need to scale out too, but not before providing ample extra capacity for growth.

 2. Think strategically about scalability

Scale ITIn the IT systems world, scalability is often thought of primarily in terms of processing power. As enterprise resource demands increase, you scale your processing capabilities, typically through either the scale-out or scale-up model.

Scalability for enterprises, however, is much broader than adding servers. For instance, your operations and IT leaders are always driving toward increased efficiency by scaling processes and workloads across the enterprise. And your CSO may want to scale the encryption used to protect the most sensitive data to all systems of record data. As your systems scale, every aspect must scale with it, from service-level agreements to networking resources to data replication and management to the IT staff required to operate and administer those additional systems. Don’t forget about the need to decommission resources, whether physical or virtual, as you outgrow them. Your IT systems should enable these aspects of scalability as well. Considering scalability in the strategic business sense will help you determine IT solutions that meet the needs of all enterprise stakeholders.

3. Meet scale demands with agile enterprise computing

Scale ITAn enterprise computing platform can drive efficiency and cost savings by helping you scale up instead of out. Yet the platform’s scalability and agility benefits go well beyond this. Research by Solitaire Interglobal Limited (SIL) has found that enterprise computing platforms provide superior agility to distributed architectures. New applications or systems can be deployed nearly three times faster on enterprise computing platforms than on competing platforms. This nimbleness allows you to stay ahead of competitors by more quickly launching innovations and upgrades. Also notably, enterprise platforms are 7.41 times more resilient than competing platforms.[iii] This means that these platforms can more effectively cope when resource demands drastically change.

Techcombank, a leading bank in Vietnam, has used an enterprise computing platform to meet scalability needs. As the Vietnamese banking industry grows rapidly, Techcombank is growing with it – with 30 percent more customers and 70 percent more online traffic annually. To support rapid business growth, Techcombank migrated its systems to an enterprise computing platform. The platform enables Techcombank to scale as demand grows while experiencing enhanced performance, reliability and security.

Scalability, agility and enterprise computing aren’t just benefits for today’s IT systems – they’re requirements. The tips above will help you to be smart about systems scalability to drive success in today’s fast-moving IT environment.

See how Techcombank scales with a stable, secure enterprise platform

Discover why enterprise computing platforms provide superior agility

[i] IBM LinuxONE TCO calculator

[ii] IBID

[iii] Scaling the Digital Mountain, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd.

Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect & CTO, z Systems Virtualization and Linux – IBM Systems

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