In telecommunications and software engineering, scalability is a desirable property of a system, a network, or a process, which indicates its ability to either handle growing amounts of work in a graceful manner, or to be readily enlarged.
For example, it can refer to the capability of a system to increase total throughput under an increased load when resources (typically hardware) are added.
An analogous meaning is implied when the word is used in a commercial context, where scalability of a company implies that the underlying business model offers the potential for economic growth within the company.
Scalability, as a property of systems, is generally difficult to define and in any particular case it is necessary to define the specific requirements for scalability on those dimensions which are deemed important.
It is a highly significant issue in electronics systems, database, routers, and networking. A system whose performance improves after adding hardware, proportionally to the capacity added, is said to be a scalable system. An algorithm, design, networking protocol, program, or other system is said to scale if it is suitably efficient and practical when applied to large situations (e.g. a large input data set or large number of participating nodes in the case of a distributed system). If the design fails when the quantity increases then it does not scale.
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