Auto Scaling

What Does Auto Scaling Mean?

Auto scaling is a cloud computing feature that allows users to automatically scale cloud services, like virtual machines (VM) and server capacities, up or down, depending on defined situations. Cloud computing providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), offer this feature.


Auto scaling also ensures that new instances are seamlessly increased during demand spikes and decreased during demand drops, enabling consistent performance for lower costs.

Techopedia Explains Auto Scaling

Auto scaling is an implementation of the dynamic scaling feature of cloud computing, which can be applied manually or automatically. Increasingly, cloud service providers are offering this feature due to the unpredictable demand for cloud capabilities.

When a traffic campaign does well, generated traffic may be much higher than expected, leaving servers unprepared for spikes in activity. In such cases, there may not be enough time to manually provision new instances and resources. Auto scaling is geared toward solving this common problem.

In some cases, however, auto scaling actually increases costs because it is not always possible to determine whether a usage spike is legitimate or the result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, when servers scale to address increased traffic. This creates a cost without the benefit of real traffic, and because the cloud’s resources are so great that the service never actually goes down, a continuous rise in costs results. The solution is a smarter monitoring tool that can distinguish between real traffic and an attack.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.