Rails doesn’t scale, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud does, but wait you need Scalr to actually scale.

So… What is ‘scaling’?

Everyone’s an expert on it these days it seems. It’s talked about in terms of languages, cloud computing grids, databases, and more.

Just today, Ola Bini provides a humorous swag at how it’s talked about in terms of languages. Recently, John Willis had a nice overview in terms of the ‘cloud’.

I’ve helped scale networks, applications, systems, and databases. The one thing I’m certain about scaling is that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There is no silver bullet.

Unfortunately, the fact that there is no silver bullet hasn’t stopped people from talking about it like there is or assigning blame when ‘scaling’ fails.

It would be great if the conversation could evolve a bit. These are age old issues that have a new shine because hardware, bandwidth, and software have all rapidly commoditized. In the world of systems management and architecture design there are new tools like cloud computing grids and virtualization, but the actual problems haven’t changed.

Scaling a system, application, or database is a non-trivial task that requires specific knowledge of the problem domain. No amount of hand-waving will create automagical scaling. We can only create better tools that help us build better infrastructure.