Do you have your Auto Scaling strategy set on AWS ?

Wed 25 March 2015 Written by Evi


One of the key benefits of Amazon’s cloud service is the ability to use auto scaling. And since Auto Scaling is quickly becoming a key requirement for those looking to use cloud computing for hosting applications, let's understand what it's all about.

About Auto Scaling

Auto Scaling, at least in theory, is the idea that you can enable and disable instances on your cloud host’s account so that your application smoothly handles peaks and troughs in traffic volumes.

This is a great idea because it allows you to pay for performance when you need it and then switch that performance (and the accompanying bill for the service) off when you don’t need it.

You can also use Auto Scaling to backstop your instances. You can diagnose when an instance develops a fault or performs sub-optimally and quickly close it down and divert traffic to a working instance while you fix the problem.

Getting the Most from Auto Scaling with AWS

Cloud Watch is used to harness the power of Auto Scaling on Amazon. The tool provides a monitoring library that can keep an eye on the performance of your instances.

You can then write scripts to manage issues identified easily. Make sure to always test any solution you’re going to put in place regarding Auto Scaling. If you don’t test the application under a heavy load, you just can’t know if your Auto Scaling solutions are effective or not.

It’s also good idea to scale up capacity in the cloud early, and as soon as you get the first warning sign that a traffic spike might be coming, you can start to deliver additional capacity. A threshold of around 75% of the target can make it easy to set this up.

Scale down slowly. You don’t want to remove capacity too early or make a mistake in reducing capacity. You can use time-based scaling to ensure that this is done sensibly. Test recurrently to make user your scaling approaches meet the needs of your applications’ users.

Then finally, you need to keep an eye on the metrics that the service generates. It’s unlikely that you will get Auto Scaling perfectly right the first time you try to use it. However, it’s perfectly fine to iterate the use of Auto Scaling so that you improve its use over time.

Auto Scaling can be incredibly helpful to web applications if it’s done properly, and can save a great deal of money in the IT budget. The good news is that it’s relatively simple to do this with the AWS cloud service.