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Why does loosely coupled architecture help to scale some types of systems?

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Q:

Why does loosely coupled architecture help to scale some types of systems?

A:

A loosely coupled architecture is generally helpful in scaling many kinds of hardware and software systems. This is one of the primary benefits of this type of build.

First, loosely coupled systems are systems in which different components or elements have relatively little knowledge or interactive dependency on other parts of the system. That means they don't need as much close coordination – they may not need to operate by the same protocols, or be controlled by the same languages or operating systems. All of this can make for easier scaling or other changes where companies need to make alterations to the overall build of the system. For example, companies may source hardware parts in different ways, instead of having to order everything from one branded manufacturer.

Loosely coupled architectures can also allow for more independent scaling. For example, in a loosely coupled network, engineers could work on improving the capacity or performance of one node with less effect on the other nodes in the system. The rough idea is that these parts all work toward the same goals and coordinate workflows, but because they are less dependent, they can be scaled or adjusted individually. Some professionals refer to this as “horizontal scaling” or scaling at a particular granular level.

This kind of functionality and versatility is important in modern systems because scalability is so much of a concern over time. Companies generally start small and grow. Their data needs grow as well. Whether they are utilizing cloud providers or working on scaling up a virtualized network system, they need to understand how to manage the growing pains that will inevitably occur. Even in a modern hyperconverged system where storage, computer and network elements are all bundled together, similar philosophies may still guide corporate planners in promoting better scalability and a more flexible hardware/software infrastructure.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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