The challenges and solutions for scaling software products

04.03.2024
by Meike Müller
Softwareentwicklung
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Are you planning a software project or have you already created software and are now faced with the challenge of scaling? Correct scaling and thus functionality even with higher user numbers is a regular problem in the development and operation of a software application. In this article, we would like to give you all the information you need about the problem, but also show you how scaling can be solved well.

Reading time 6 min

What to expect in this article:
  1. What exactly does scaling mean?
    1. What is agile scaling?
  2. Why is scaling important for software products?
  3. What are the challenges of scaling software applications?
    1. Technical challenges
    2. Operational hurdles
  4. How you can scale software products better
  5. Our conclusion
  6. FAQ: Questions and answers about scaling software products

What exactly does scaling mean?

Let's start with the basics: scaling in relation to software applications refers to the ability to handle increasing numbers of users, data or requests without compromising performance. In order to cope with the increase in user access, it is often necessary to adapt the software by optimizing it or adding more server capacity or storage space. Two approaches can be chosen for scaling software products: vertical or horizontal scaling.

Vertical scaling, also known as "scaling up", means increasing performance by adding faster CPUs, larger hard disks or more RAM. The software architecture often remains the same, which is why vertical scaling is easier to implement in many companies. But at some point, of course, you reach the limits, as a single server cannot be upgraded indefinitely. Horizontal scaling, or "scale-out", describes the addition of several servers to which the load is then distributed. In other words, the number of servers is increased, which is often accompanied by a more complex infrastructure and an adaptation of the software architecture.

What is agile scaling?

Agile scaling uses agile methods and principles to effectively manage complex projects. But what exactly does agile mean? Agile refers to an approach to project and product development that emphasizes flexibility, rapid responsiveness to change and continuous improvement. The core of the agile approach is to work in short cycles that allow teams to regularly gather feedback and make adjustments to better meet changing requirements and priorities. Agile methods such as Scrum, Kanban or Lean Development promote a collaborative working environment in which the focus is on self-organization and team ownership.

Agile scaling extends these principles to larger, more complex projects and organizations. It aims to spread agility beyond individual teams and create an environment in which multiple teams can work together effectively to achieve common goals. Structures and processes are designed to support the agile way of working without losing the flexibility and adaptability that are crucial to the success of agile projects. For example, frameworks such as SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) or Scrum@Scale are used for agile scaling in order to be able to implement agility on a large scale. This improves the ability to react to market changes, promotes collaboration between different teams and also increases transparency within the company.

Why is scaling important for software products?

Setting up software in such a way that it guarantees a high level of stability and constant availability, even with a continuously increasing number of users, is a technical challenge. When a new software product is released, it is often not yet clear how many users it will have to cope with. However, there are several reasons why it is important to plan it in this way or at least adapt it quickly to cope with increased user numbers, which we have summarized here:

  • Good performance: If the software is scalable, it will perform well at all times, no matter how high the workload is. The software can be used efficiently, as it consumes fewer resources when used less, but can easily draw on more resources when the workload is high
  • Cost management: If the scalable software application only uses the resources it needs in real time, costs can be saved. Cost savings are also possible if the software is planned directly in such a way that the software can be increased in performance without effort when it is needed.
  • Security for the future: Almost every company wants its software to grow and to have more and more users over time. If the software has been created directly to cope with increased requests, this saves nerves, effort and time. Scalable software can adapt to these changing requirements without having to implement a completely new solution.
  • Good user experience: The fact that software is planned to be scalable should above all ensure a pleasant user experience. If the software is not properly designed for increased visitor numbers, it will probably be slower to use and lead to frustration on the user side. In the worst case scenario, users will not want to use the application again and will look for an alternative.
  • Competitiveness: In order for the software to remain competitive, it must be able to adapt quickly to innovations and changes in the market. With scalable software, new functions can be integrated and go live more quickly.

What are the challenges of scaling software applications?

In order to make your software scalable, a number of challenges need to be overcome. These challenges include both technical and operational hurdles. So that you know what to expect when making your own software application scalable, we will reveal the upcoming challenges in the following sections.

Technical challenges

In order to develop software that is and remains scalable in the future, you need to take a close look at the technical side. This is because scaling software also involves a number of challenges on the technical side. It is important that you are familiar with the system design and architecture of your software. This allows you to ensure continuous performance, stability and user-friendliness. This also means that you should think through the technical structure carefully. It's better to start by making the software scalable right at the beginning than to start adapting everything when scaling is needed.

You may face the following technical challenges:

  • Security: As scaling increases, the attack surface grows, necessitating ongoing measures to ensure application and data security, including data encryption during transfers and regular review of security configurations.
  • Database management: As the number of users increases, database management becomes increasingly difficult. This is because scaling also increases the pressure on database systems. This means you need to organize the data well, be able to search quickly and improve querying to minimize delays and increase performance. It is important to ensure that the data is properly organized and remains consistent so that the application remains fast even with many users.
  • Performance: As the number of requests increases, the response time of the application can suffer. Code-level optimizations, efficient caching and the selection of powerful hardware or cloud resources are essential to ensure fast load times and a smooth user experience.
  • Load balancing: Intelligent load balancing is required to effectively manage peak loads and ensure even utilization of system resources. This can be achieved through the use of load balancers, the implementation of microservices architectures or automated scaling solutions that dynamically allocate resources based on current demand.

Operational hurdles

But it is not only on the technical side that hurdles can arise. Scaling a software product can also challenge you operationally.

The following challenges can arise in your company:

  • Communication and coordination of teams is challenging: As a company grows, so does the number of employees, teams and departments. This can make internal communication and coordination more difficult as information needs to be shared efficiently and effectively between everyone involved. However, agile management practices and project management tools can help you overcome these hurdles by creating transparency and clear communication channels.
  • Resource management and prioritization: As your business expands, resources (such as budget, staff and time) need to be managed effectively and priorities clearly defined. This can be a challenge in any business, especially when resources are limited and decisions about how to allocate those resources impact product development and growth.
  • Customer support: As users grow, customer support needs to increase accordingly to maintain a high level of service. This often requires additional resources, staff, training for support teams and possibly the introduction of new support technologies or platforms.
  • Adapting to regulatory requirements: With expansion may also come new regulatory requirements for you, mainly if you are also expanding into new markets. Navigating these legal challenges and ensuring that your business complies with all relevant regulations can be a significant operational hurdle for you.

How to scale software products better

The best way to scale your software application will always depend on the type of software and your company's objectives. However, there are a few methods that can help you to scale software.

The first step is to create a software architecture that can be scaled. Modular and service-oriented architectures are suitable for this. This allows you to scale individual components independently of each other if necessary. Cloud services are also a helpful tool for scaling software applications. This is because many cloud providers also enable automated scaling. This allows you to adapt the use of resources to your needs. Of course, you should also regularly check how your software is performing in order to identify problems immediately. With performance tests, you can see whether the caching is efficient, whether the database needs to be optimized, etc. Also implement robust security protocols and adhere to data protection standards so that your software always meets all security requirements.

Use user feedback and analysis tools to optimize your application. Integrate regular feedback loops to identify problems early on and keep your software up to date and modern. You should also promote awareness of scaling in your team. Impart the necessary knowledge about scaling practices and technologies so that the software can be directly aligned accordingly.

Our conclusion

If you want to make your software product scalable, you will have to overcome some technical hurdles as well as challenges on the operational side. If you use agile methods and plan your software carefully, you can successfully scale your software and create a foundation for future growth.

If you need help with scaling or creating software , we are the software agency to contact. We are happy to take on every step of the development process: from planning and design to implementation and subsequent monitoring.

Questions and answers about scaling software products

Last but not least, we answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about scaling software products. If you have any other questions, you can contact our team at any time. Our software developers will answer all your questions about individual software products, web applications and online stores. Get in touch via our contact form or simply give us a call.

FAQ

  • How can I choose the right scaling method for my company?

    Which scaling method is best for you and your software project depends on individual factors such as the type of your application. The existing infrastructure and your budget also play a role. You should therefore plan your software in detail and analyze which requirements need to be met.

  • Are scalable business models only interesting for tech companies?

    If companies from a wide range of industries need to react to growth and change, then scalable business models are also interesting. This is because these scalability models can also be used in various other industries.

  • What role do cloud services play in the scaling of software products?

    Cloud services can be used effectively when scaling software products by providing a flexible, cost-efficient and quickly adaptable infrastructure that can grow with the requirements of the application. Resources such as computing power and storage space can be dynamically adapted and you only pay for the performance you get. This also minimizes the financial risk of scaling. Depending on the provider, there is also automated scaling when working with the cloud. This ensures that the application runs smoothly even during unexpected peak loads.

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Meike
Meike
from 04.03.2024

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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