What is scalable IT? Why is scalable IT important, and what are the benefits for your business?
Scalable IT solutions are very important and something you may hear an IT support company talk a lot about, but what are they and what are the benefits of scalable IT for a business?
What is scalable IT?
Scalable IT is a system that can increase or decrease in performance, and subsequently cost, in response to changes in demand. Two common examples are that of users or data storage. Scalable IT solutions allow you to add or remove users quickly or increase or decrease storage size as your requirements change. This has a knock on effect in terms of cost. As opposed to paying above and beyond what you actually require so that there is always additional capacity should you need it, you only pay for what you are using at that specific moment in time.
That being said, scalability and scalable IT doesn’t stop at just capacity. It should also allow you to be flexible in terms of features, allowing you to use what you need when you need it. The key here is the flexibility of service. Scalable IT should scale with a business in a quick and efficient manner, minimising the time, effort and cost required to react to any given situation.
Why is scalable IT important?
Scalable IT is important due to the ever changing nature of business, the critical role IT plays within a company and the costs associated with technology. Historically, technology has been fairly rigid.
Take for example a company with an on-site server that hosts its network. Whilst improvements could be made to the server, there would always be a finite limit to its capabilities. If the business then grew quickly, it is likely that the server would need to be replaced, which would take time in terms of procurement, configuration and installation. It would cost the company a fair sum too and in addition to this would increase the risk of the company. What would happen if the company suddenly lost a number of employees? It might be left with a costly server it no longer needed.
Scalable IT solutions aim to avoid such situations. They enable your IT provisions to grow and shrink organically with the company. In a similar situation to the one above, a scalable cloud-based network could increase in capacity at the click of a few buttons, without the need for downtime. It is likely that any cost would be spread over monthly payments, not in the form of an upfront cost as you’d expect with hardware such as a server, and should the requirement on the network need to be reversed swiftly, this could happen as quickly and as simply as the increase, reducing risk.
What are the benefits of scalable IT?
There are numerous benefits to scalable IT but the most notable are lower costs, improved flexibility, greater control and reduced risk.
Scalable IT solutions mean you only pay for what you use, meaning your costs are likely to be lower. For example, when paying for a software package, traditionally you may be expected to pay for it in one go. It will also be high price for all of the features, even if you only need one or two. If those features were particularly critical for your business, you may reluctantly pay the large software charge, knowing you’re only using a small percentage of the software you’ve purchased.
A scalable alternative however would be different. In such an instance you’d only pay for the features you require, reducing the overall cost. What’s more, in the instances whereby you need some of the additional features you’d be able to expand your access for a period of time, allowing you to do so. This sort of situation is commonly seen with cloud-based software, of which you subscribe to rather than purchase. Commonly you’ll be able to subscribe to a set level or membership, which comes with a bundle of features. These are usually based on a hierarchy of complexity, meaning it is unlikely that you’ll only need features in the costliest packages. You can then chose the level that best suits your needs and move between them should you need to, therefore not only saving on total cost, but ensuring your money works harder for you, without any of your expenditure going to waste.
Improved flexibility yet greater control.
Scalable IT will improve the flexibility of your IT network, whilst giving you greater control of the provisions you have. This can be useful given the unpredictable nature of business, particularly as an SME or during uncertain times. Your IT solutions should not only be capable of growing with you as a business, allowing you to introduce new team members or services as required, but it shouldn’t then become an hinderance should you need to reverse this as a result of downsizing or fluctuating work load.
Scalable IT moves with your demand. This means that the you aren’t trapped or left with a service you no longer require.
Capital investment required for large scale IT projects will always carry a degree of risk as with any investment a business makes. Even if your business is performing well, unexpected situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can leave your business open to unfavourable outcomes, especially if you have an IT network that is too rigid and unable to react to change.
As has been seen by a number of businesses during the global pandemic a scalable IT solution has allowed many businesses to cut costs, at a time when demand wasn’t there and the capital could be better spent elsewhere, cumulating in a reduced level of risk on the whole for the business. Many people think only of scaling up when thinking of scalable IT but it is important to remember that it can be scaled down too, which means you can cut your cloth accordingly. This is likely to be of most benefit to businesses in a hyper competitive industry or those that experience regularly fluctuations in demand.