Scale automatically your application

The autoscaling feature lets you scale automatically your application up and down, depending on a user-defined threshold on the application metric.

An autoscaler can be added to an application by going to the “Containers” tab of your app:

The Target is used by the autoscaler to adapt the number of containers of your application. We also provide you with a recommended value you can use as the target. This recommended value is based on the median over the last 24 hours of your application for most metrics. It means that it is only based on historical usage and not on predictions on the future. The recommended value for the CPU and the RAM usage is fixed and is 90%.

Finding the best target for your application is not an easy task. One should run benchmarks on its application to detect which metric is the bottleneck. A good procedure can be to scale the application to 1 container and execute a load testing tool (e.g. Vegeta) against it. For instance, if you observe your application does not respond after 100 RPM, configuring the target to 80 RPM per container so that Scalingo automatically scales up the application seems a good idea. These load tests should be executed against the most greedy endpoints for better results.

Autoscaling Logic

Scalingo’s autoscaler service bases its decisions on a user defined metric (e.g. RPM per container, response time, CPU consumption…).

When creating a new autoscaler, a target is provided: our algorithm tries to keep the metric as close to the target as possible by scaling up or down the application, up or down, by one container at a time.

A few details to keep in mind :

  • the autoscaling is based on the “mean per minute” of the target metric, and requires two consecutive means to be over the target value before being triggered;
  • for the metrics where it makes sense (eg. CPU, RAM, swap), the mean of all containers is used;
  • after a scale up event, the autoscaler will not scale the application up again before at least one minute;
  • after a scale down, the cooldown is of three minutes;

Those rules are here to avoid scaling the application frantically. This makes the autoscaling good at handling “reasonably” increasing/decreasing metrics, but not when it comes to dealing with huge, sudden spikes.

If you know such events can happen, you should manually scale up the application to a suitable container formation.

Available Metrics

The autoscaling of an application can depend on five different metrics:

  • Containers resource consumption: RAM, CPU and swap,
  • 95th percentile of the requests response time,
  • Requests per minute (RPM),
  • and RPM per container: if your application has multiple web containers, it is the RPM divided by the number of containers.

The last three metrics are only available for web containers.

Monitoring Autoscaling Events

Every time an application is scaled by the autoscaler, an event is created. This event appears on the application’s timeline. The user responsible for the operation is labeled scalingo-platform-autoscaler.

Notifications for such events are sent if you set it up in the Notifications section. A guide to configure these notifications is available here.

Autoscaling Limits

An increased response time or resource consumption of an application can have different causes and scaling horizontally might not solve the issue. These causes can be:

  • A memory leak in your application.
  • The database uses all its resources.

In such cases, configuring an autoscaler will not improve the responsiveness of the application. One should investigate these issues before enabling an autoscaler.


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