Best practices for building scalable cloud applications

Tony Branson

January 03, 2017

Tony BransonJanuary 03, 2017

Did you know that the database tier is the biggest bottleneck of any given application? As your database tier demands are always fluctuating, it is not feasible to employ a one-size-fits-all approach when building a scalable cloud application. Let’s take a look at the best practices for architecting your database tier for high availability and resilience:

Scaling Up

If your enterprise is in the nascent stage of an application, the load on the database is relatively lighter and a smaller instance size can be adequate for both master and slave databases. As and when an enterprise grows, the load increases and the master database needs to be migrated to a bigger instance size for additional power, memory and I/O throughput.

For effective management of database requests, complex queries, multiple tables, and additional memory are needed to accelerate the response time. The disk I/O demands of any application can be greatly reduced by keeping the working database contained entirely in memory. The performance gains realized from vertical scaling far outweigh the expenses incurred on instance sizes.

Using a database load balancing software that facilitates the migration of the database from a smaller instance size to a larger one without needing any changes to the application even as the traffic escalates will mitigate the expenses of larger instances and minimize downtime.

Scaling Out

If you have a master database, implementing additional slave databases will work to increase the availability and reliability of apps and facilitate horizontal scaling. Using a proxy mechanism with a database load balancing software will distribute TCP traffic appropriately and direct read and write requests properly. Making the application master/slave aware with access information available to both needs SQL server load balancing that can accommodate variable workloads and distribute all read requests uniformly among available slaves.

Database Scaling      

As an application’s lifecycle progresses it needs to become more scalable and agile at every a larger number of users will be interacting with it. The resource requirements of every database tier increase with time and this creates the need for a well-planned and implemented database design that facilitates horizontal and vertical scaling of database tier to varying degrees.

Database Sharding

Sharding involves the partitioning of database tables and placement of these distinct pieces on separate servers. This approach works similar to a proxy server where the reads and writes are dispersed across multiple servers to reduce the load on an individual database server. It is recommended to remove the sharding server and modify the application to make it aware of the implementation so that the app can connect to the appropriate server on the basis of the object that is to be accessed. Sharding facilitates an even distribution of queries and improves throughput. If your app relies on cross-table joins and involves multiple servers, sharding may not serve your purpose efficiently.

Why a Load Balancing Software Makes Sense

Scaling every tier individually can be downright complex and challenging because the architecture of every application comes with a unique set of advantages and limitations. A load balancing software can best handle peaks and dips in traffic by adding and removing virtual machines accordingly. Scale your database capacity with a load balancer and meet anticipated and unexpected demands efficiently.

Since the database tier is the biggest bottleneck in building a scalable application, a load balancer solution that ensures easy deployments across multiple clouds, monitors servers, and evenly distributes traffic to servers that are fully-equipped to handle requests makes perfect sense. Boost your database performance and streamline the job of your app developers with a load balancing solution that automates all your management tasks, integrates new applications, accelerates your response time and ensures better security.

Tony Branson is a self-proclaimed tech geek, with a passion for ScaleArc’s disruptive technology innovation in database load balancing. Tony has a passion for dissecting tech topics such as transparent failover, centralized control, ACID compliance, database scalability and downtime effects. On his days off, he can be found watching sci-fi movies, rock climbing or volunteering.


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