Building Scalable Laravel Applications

April 28th, 2023 · Read time 6 min

When it comes to scaling up a software system or application, there are two main approaches that developers can take: horizontal scaling and vertical scaling. Both methods aim to increase the system's capacity to handle more traffic, users, or data, but they achieve this in different ways.

Vertical scaling, also known as scaling up, involves adding more resources to a single machine or server to increase its power and performance. This could mean upgrading the CPU, RAM, or storage capacity of the existing hardware, or adding more powerful hardware components altogether. Vertical scaling is often the simpler approach to implement, as it requires minimal changes to the architecture of the system.

On the other hand, horizontal scaling, also known as scaling out, involves adding more machines or servers to the system to increase its overall capacity. In this approach, the workload is distributed across multiple servers, each of which contributes to the overall processing power of the system. This approach requires more complex architecture and configuration, but it offers greater scalability and resilience, as it allows the system to handle larger amounts of traffic and data.

A stateless application is a type of software application that does not store any data or session information about its users between requests. This means that each request made to the application is treated as a completely independent event, and the application does not rely on any previously stored information to process the request.

As your application grows, it's important to ensure that it can scale horizontally to accommodate increased traffic and usage. This involves designing your application architecture to allow for multiple instances of the application to run concurrently across multiple servers. However, Laravel applications, by default configurations, are not stateless, which can hinder the ability to scale horizontally. In this article, we'll discuss how to prepare your Laravel application for horizontal scaling by making it stateless.

To make your application truly stateless, it's important to ensure that it does not rely on any local file storage or persistent state on the server. All persistent data should be stored in databases or backend services, rather than on individual servers. This makes it easier to spin up new instances of your application without losing any data.

Let’s walk through the steps to achieve that:

1. Use a database for persistent data storage

Avoid storing data on the local file system and use a database like MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MongoDB instead. In production, it's important to use a managed database service from a cloud provider to ensure scalability, high availability, and security. Managed database services provide features like automated backups and scaling, simplifying database management and allowing you to focus on developing and deploying your Laravel application. For local development, use a managed database service or set up a local database instance using a tool like Docker to match your production environment.

2. Use a cache for frequently accessed data

Cache frequently accessed data in a distributed cache such as Redis or Memcached. This helps reduce the load on the database and speeds up the application. You should also use a managed cache service like AWS ElastiCache for production and avoid install Redis on the machine.

3. Use a stateless session driver

By default, Laravel uses a file-based session driver which stores session data on the local file system. This can cause issues when scaling horizontally. Instead, use a stateless session driver such as Redis or Memcached to store session data. You can also use a stateless authentication system such as JWT (JSON Web Tokens).

4. Use cloud-based file storage or distributed file systems

To avoid issues with file storage when scaling horizontally, it's recommended to use cloud-based file storage services such as Amazon S3 or Google Cloud Storage instead of relying on local file storage. Another option is to use a distributed file system such as GlusterFS or Ceph, which can provide shared storage across multiple servers.

5. Use a cloud platform or containerization

When scaling horizontally, it's important to have a consistent environment across all instances of the application. Using a cloud platform such as AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure, or containerization technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes, can help ensure consistency across all instances.

6. Use monitoring and logging

When scaling horizontally, it's important to monitor the performance and health of all instances of the application. Use tools such as Sentry or Flare can help you identify issues and take proactive steps to prevent them from becoming critical.

7. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

If your application serves large files or media content, using a CDN can help distribute this content across multiple servers located in different geographic regions. This can improve performance and reduce latency, especially for users located far from your application's server.

8. Use a queuing system

If your application performs long-running tasks or background jobs, use a queuing system such as RabbitMQ or Beanstalkd. This will ensure that jobs are processed by a separate set of workers, and not tied to any specific instance of the application. By decoupling the job processing from the application instances, you can ensure that your application can handle increased traffic and job processing without any issues.

9. Use microservices architecture

If your application has multiple components or services, consider using a microservices architecture. This involves breaking down the application into smaller, independent services that communicate with each other using APIs. Each service can be deployed independently and scaled horizontally, making handling increased traffic and usage easier..

By completing the above steps, your application is now stateless and ready to be scaled!!

10. Use continuous integration and deployment

When deploying changes to your application, use a continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. This involves using tools such as Jenkins or Travis CI to automatically build, test, and deploy your application to production. By using a CI/CD pipeline, you can ensure that changes are deployed quickly and consistently, without introducing any bugs or issues.

11. Use auto-scaling

Auto-scaling is a technique used to automatically adjust the number of instances of your application based on the current traffic and usage. Use a cloud platform such as AWS or Google Cloud Platform to set up auto-scaling rules based on metrics such as CPU usage or network traffic. By using auto-scaling, you can ensure that your application can handle sudden spikes in traffic without any manual intervention. This can also help you save costs by only running the required number of instances, based on the current traffic and usage.

12. Use a load balancer

A load balancer is a device or software that distributes network traffic across multiple servers. When scaling horizontally, a load balancer can help distribute traffic evenly across all instances of the application, improving performance and reliability. You can review this article for better understanding about the load balancer.

By taking these steps, your application will be horizontally scaled. This will enable your application to handle increased traffic and usage, without compromising on performance or data consistency.