Cloud Computing: Horizontal and Vertical Scaling Defined

When it comes to cloud computing, scaling is the ability for an IT resource to handle increased or decreased usage demands. There are two types of scaling. They are:

Horizontal Scaling
Vertical Scaling


The allocation of release of IT resources that are identical in type is horizontal scaling. The horizontal allocation of resources is known as scaling out while the horizontal releasing of resources is known as scaling in. For example, you have 3 virtual servers, and you scale out by adding more of the same IT resources.


If you have an IT resource that is replaced by another resource with higher or lower capacity, this is considered vertical scaling. For example, you have a server that has 4 CPU’s and it is scaled up or increased to 8 CPU’s; this is considered vertical scaling. If you take the resources and scale back down, it is know as scaling down.

Typically, when it comes to cloud computing, horizontal scaling is less expensive than vertical scaling and with horizontal scaling, resources are instantly available.

Next time you are around the water cooler with your cronies and a discussion of vertical or horizontal scaling comes up, rest easy that you are armed with knowledge on how to differentiate the two.

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