Elasticsearch is built to be always available, and to scale with your needs. Scale can come from buying bigger servers (vertical scale, or scaling up) or from buying more servers (horizontal scale, or scaling out).
While Elasticsearch can benefit from more-powerful hardware, vertical scale has its limits. Real scalability comes from horizontal scale—the ability to add more nodes to the cluster and to spread load and reliability between them.
With most databases, scaling horizontally usually requires a major overhaul of your application to take advantage of these extra boxes. In contrast, Elasticsearch is distributed by nature: it knows how to manage multiple nodes to provide scale and high availability. This also means that your application doesn’t need to care about it.
In this chapter, we show how you can set up your cluster, nodes, and shards to scale with your needs and to ensure that your data is safe from hardware failure.