If your organization is like most companies, growth is always seen as a good thing. An expanded customer base, higher sales numbers, bigger revenue – there’s no downside to any of that, right?

Of course, if you work in IT, you know that growing your infrastructure can be a little more complicated. Scaling takes resources and planning – at least it does if you want an environment that’s optimized for both performance and cost-effectiveness. And this can be tricky given that many companies can’t nail down exactly when their projected growth will occur or how it will manifest. As a result, many teams end up trying to scale reactively and sacrifice security, performance or both in the bargain.

The reality is that intelligent scaling should be a proactive move architected in advance and ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. If you think you don’t need to worry about scaling yet, you’re wrong – the stage before high demand is exactly the right time to prepare. To make sure your system is ready for game time, check out our three tips for accommodating growth while keeping your performance high, your applications available and your data protected.

Look to the past but build for the future.

Getting prepared ahead of time means looking at your past. It’s not an exact science but try to gauge your future growth by looking at past surges and trends, particularly when it comes to seasonal demand, shopping trends, marketing initiatives and other activities that might spur accelerated growth. This can also help you choose scaling methods; if you have reliable insight into future demands, then manual scaling may suffice. But if your business has “off hours” and you experience unpredictable demand, an automated approach or pre-scheduled resource allocations can prevent a poor end user experience.

Use layered security to avoid bottlenecks.

Here’s a common scaling challenge: you’ve got various security devices in place, but the traffic exceeds capacity. Subsequently you security devices fail to inspect all of your traffic or block something malicious and the hackers walk right into your network, untouched, while you’re scrambling to accommodate demand. This is one reason scaling is important; it’s also something to keep in mind while implementing security controls.

To avoid causing a bottleneck in your network stack and keep your servers and applications protected, turn to layered security. Multiple safeguards will keep you covered in the event of high demand, IP reputation management, DDoS mitigation, Web application firewalls, load balancers, intrusion detection devices and other security layers all working in a masterful concert of prevention and detection. Just be sure that your controls are supporting strong performance, rather than hindering it.

Build in business continuity.

Data breaches might be one of your top fears, but I’m guessing that downtime is another. From lost sales to public embarrassment, downtime can feel excruciating. Luckily you can count on several ways to protect your business from single points of failure. Load balancing within a data center and geographic redundancy are just two business continuity solutions you can use to maintain uptime even in the face of unexpected load. Look at all potential growth scenarios and then create plans that allow you to scale aggressively and seamlessly when you need to.

Since we’re talking about scaling, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention FluidScale. Our unique, enhanced scaling option can be applied to any of our existing manual, scheduled or automatic scaling options, and can be managed easily through the customer portal. The benefits: not only are our customers spared lost revenue and a damaged brand from outages, in most cases they don’t need to reboot to scale. Mission-critical data stays consistently protected and available.

Now is the time to lay an IT foundation for future growth. Examine your patterns, investigate your options and make a plan that can accommodate high demand while protecting your security and performance. When your business breaks through into that next level of success, your network will be ready.