Scale-out vs. Scale-up: What’s the Difference?

This post was originally published on Pure Storage

Scale-out and scale-up architectures—also known, respectively, as horizontal scaling and vertical scaling and scale in and scale down—refer to how companies scale their data storage: by adding more hardware drives (scale up/vertical scaling), or by adding more software nodes (scale out/horizontal scaling). Scale-up is the more traditional format, but it runs into space issues as data volumes grow and the need for more and more data storage increases. Hence, the advent of scale-out architectures. 

This is a very high-level description of the two main methods of scaling data storage capacity, so let’s delve into it a little deeper. 

What Is Scale-up Architecture?

In a scale-up data storage architecture, storage drives are added to increase storage capacity and performance. The drives are managed by two controllers. When you run out of storage capacity, you add another shelf of drives to the architecture. 

What Is Scale-out Architecture?

A scale-out architecture uses software-defined storage (SDS) to separate the storage hardware from the storage software, letting the software act as the controllers. This is why scale-out storage is considered to be network attached storage (NAS). 

Scale-out NAS systems involve clusters of software nodes that work together. Nodes can be added or removed, allowing things

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