Building for Scale

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This year's pandemic has moved a lot of business to the digital world. We see that with increased ecommerce from many companies, including lots of local business, like restaurants, that have embraced online ordering, pickup, and delivery. In many cases, the companies providing these services were able to scale and meet the additional load, which arguably wasn't that high for any individual organization.

However, some services aren't able to handle the loads, especially government services. Recently the Florida voting registration website crashed under a larger than expected load. We've seen unemployment sites crash in the US, the contact tracking website in the UK, and plenty more.

I can understand the challenges of government sites, many of which were built on older technology and rarely upgraded with budget restrictions. Investing in new technology is not only expensive, but it can be a huge challenge to ensure systems work through a transition, especially when many users are counting on services to be available.

I do think that the future of much software development needs to be with a hybrid cloud architecture. There are great government secure options from AWS, Azure, and other providers. However, even if you build software that is intended to be in your data center (or a rented one), you ought to be thinking about how to scale it beyond the machines on which it exists, especially if you provide public facing access.

Whether in government or private enterprises, we see the demand for systems grow and shrink rapidly. You can have incredible success, or face shrinking demand quickly. This isn't like an investment in a large physical plant. The digital world allows us to easily scale up and down, using the cloud concepts and architectures developed over the last decade. Learn about the patterns, and ensure your systems can scale as needed.

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