How to Build a Scalable Web Application

How to Build a Scalable Web Application

Historically, business owners have found it redundant to go into the details of developing software solutions for their IT projects. This process is associated in business with multi-stage explanations of developers about changing technologies and system requirements. Therefore, when it comes to system scalability, company representatives prefer to move the dialogue with developers to a more general level, while cutting off all the important technical details. In this article, we will discuss why it's important for businesses to have scalable web solutions and how to build scalable web applications to keep efficiency.

5 key questions about scaling

Usually, developers raise five top questions when they talk about scalability. Let's take a closer look at each of the five questions and see what benefits can be gained if business representatives provide comprehensive answers.

Is there an understanding of the planned capabilities of the system?

Scalability is the ability of a system to cope with an increasing load by enhancing the processing power of existing resources or adding new nodes. To follow the second path, the system must have an appropriate architecture.

In other words, when designing a system, it is important for backend developers to understand whether it is possible to scale it in the future, i.e. increase its operational capabilities. To do this, it is important for them to outline the plans of business owners regarding the expected characteristics of the system, as well as understand how they are going to develop it.

Thus, clearly formulate the goals of the IT project and draw up a plan or schedule for projected site traffic. Preferably with time intervals.

Developers ask a question about the capabilities of the system not out of idle interest. They need to foresee loopholes for further growth of the system's capabilities. If a business plans to conquer the world, it is necessary to clearly state its goals. Let's say when a site with a daily audience of no more than 300 users receives 10,000 unique visitors at a time, the system should not crash.

What typical actions will users of the system perform?

Predicting typical actions allows developers to analyze the load on the system in advance. They can see whether users of the system will download heavy files, or there is the option to support live chat or something else will be required. Depending on the typical scenario of actions, the distribution of functionality between the nodes of the system will be carried out.

To prevent negative developments, describe in detail the intended scenario of user actions. Consider two areas, among other things:

  • How would you like the user to interact with the system?

  • How can this actually happen?

What bottlenecks can be in the system? Which part of the system is under the most stress?

Any complex information system can include one or several bottlenecks. A bottleneck is such a problematic point in the system, which at a certain point in time takes on the greatest load. Knowing the likely bottlenecks in the system, the developer can correct its operation in case of server degradation. This helps to avoid the loss of potential users of the system during peak loads.

The problem of finding bottlenecks is not directly related to the scalability of the system, but it should not be overlooked. A bottleneck not foreseen in time can nullify all scaling efforts. Even if the developer successfully scales the system, he needs to analyze its architecture in order to avoid bottlenecks.

A detailed answer to the question of where the bottlenecks are in the system can only be given by targeted testing. However, this does not mean that potential bottlenecks cannot be assessed.

Make a list of the basic components of your system. Select among them those that, in your experience, seem to be the most vulnerable.

Discuss the list with the development team. Perhaps the experience of technical specialists will give you new ideas.

What is more important for the system - fault tolerance or high performance?

Different systems require different approaches. It is important for developers to understand what problem they are solving - system fault tolerance, its high performance, or both at once.

The issue of fault tolerance is always acute and does not have a universal solution. It refers to the system's ability to respond when a server fails. That is, the user does not achieve the desired result - does not go to the desired page of the service, cannot make a payment in the application, etc. With a high probability, if the user does not understand what is happening, he will refuse to continue using the system. To avoid a large loss of users, it is necessary to secure the system.

High performance refers to the system's ability to simultaneously withstand thousands of users and show good response speed. In other words, the speed of the system is important here.

Decide on this fundamental point, since it will help developers to know in advance what should be considered in the system first of all. With your precise guidance, the development team can make a list of recommendations for the project.

Where might the need for system scalability come from?

Often business owners have expectations that developers should be well versed in their business and immediately understand whether the system needs to scale or not. But, as a rule, these are false expectations. In fact, developers start from the specific goals pursued by an IT project. It is important for them to identify the source of the need for scaling. This may be too much data that needs to be stored and processed somewhere, complex computational processes, and multi-stage operations that need to be carried out at a certain point in time.

Answer yourself the question: what do you mean by system scalability in the current IT project. Separate concepts:

  • you have 10,000 users in your database and you need to increase the capacity of the server to store information;

  • 10,000 users come to your website at a time and the server needs to reinforce its computing power.


If business owners began to speak the language of developers, the quality of the developed systems would increase significantly. In particular, during the creation of complex server solutions, many problems could be avoided. A software development company Digiteum designs and builds scalable digital systems for SMB and enterprise customers around the world, paying attention to the quality communication with business owners at the stage of planning a project development.

More Services