It only seems like yesterday that I started to see WordPress websites popup across our hosting platforms. In fact it was more than 12 years ago now; time flies when you’re hosting huh.
WordPress started life way back in May 2003 when Mike Little (a Manchester local don’t you know!) and Matt Mullenweg forked b2/cafelog and started a phenomenon. From those humble beginnings as ‘just another blog’, WordPress has blossomed into a superb, fully fledged content management system.
Today a vast proportion of the sites we host rely on WordPress. While the web in general is reputed to be ~25% powered by WordPress, the number is higher at 34SP.com. That was just one reason that we decided to build a better solution for what ostensibly a third to half of our clients are using to power their sites. Over a series of posts here I wanted to share with you our thoughts, progress and insights as we build out our awesome new managed WordPress platform.
Why? What’s wrong with the status quo?
There’s the fact that our user’s have already told us that WordPress is critically important to them. We’ve offered our own one click, no fuss installer for years. The 1,000’s and 1,000’s of installs and active WordPress sites we now host are testament to the platform’s simplicity, popularity and flexibility.
Most users though choose to deploy WordPress on our shared hosting plans, and at the end of the day, that’s not the ideal solution. Shared hosting by design is a very open ended, agnostic platform. It’s the jack of all trades, master of none; in a modern web world, lack of specialisation can be a killer. In allowing users to host whatever they like, however they like, we make compromises. And we’re limited in how much we can optimise the platform. If we make a tweak here for speed, for every client that jumps with joy, five others break down in tears over how we just broke their code.
And we don’t blame our users for that, as to date, the only real way to move beyond shared hosting at 34SP.com was to use one of our business grade plans which might be be cost prohibitive for some users. What we wanted to build was a truly valuable WordPress hosting experience at a cost that we believe is affordable to most users serious about their sites.
Plus, by building a platform from scratch with WordPress singularly in mind, we’re able to focus squarely on every single item that makes WordPress run in the fastest, most secure and scalable way possible.
Tell me more
For starters, we’re trading our shared hosting for our new managed WordPress platform. We’re building from the ground up on Virtual Private Server hardware (VPS) as a solid foundation for the future. VPS’s offer each user a self contained hosting environment just for their own websites and data. It’s the diametric opposite of shared hosting and opens up a world of future potential such as cloud, hybrid and high availability hosting. VPS’s are more secure than shared hosting and the format allows us to craft and configure a hosting plan in ways we’ve never had the power to do so before.
Varnish, InnoDB, Memcached, CloudFlare, PHP OpCache, the list goes on and on. We’re deploying specialised software from advanced caching to content delivery networks to supercharge the hosting experience. You should see the stunning load testing reports from our Q&A testing, I’ll share them later on in this series. The takeaway is that this new platform is lightning quick and capable of sustaining spikes in demand that would crush a shared account. And for the rest of the time, general day to day web serving should be supersonically swift.
WordPress gets a bad reputation for security, and it’s not warranted. Out of the box, the core WordPress install is secure. Indeed, the core team do a great job of keeping the engine secure with rapid fixes to any issues that come up. Of course, it’s critical users update as fast as possible, and many sites rarely do. Plugins too can be a huge point of security problems. We understand all of this from years of hosting WordPress and we’re building management tools and sensible security tools to help alleviate this concern.
Remember the days when features on hosting plans where nothing more than varying levels of disk space and bandwidth? I do, and it was about as exciting as it sounds. These days features mean meaningful improvements to the hosting platform to that assist users with their day to day. Items such as:
- Allowing users to run multiple websites
- Staging and cloning tools to test sites before going live
- Dev tools like WP CLI and GIT
- Removing arbitrary limits on bandwidth or pageviews – because – just why?
Ooh go on then, what’s next?
You’re welcome to signup to our beta hosting right now at hugely discounted rates and come and join our Slack channel to discuss the plan. We’re keen to hear people’s feedback and build out the very best UK managed WordPress hosting. We’re genuinely committed to creating something meaningful and engaging, you’ve probably seen us at various WordCamps across the UK and the US as sponsors and attendees. In fact in just a few more days we’ll be sponsoring WordCamp Manchester right down the street.
Plus, over the course of several more posts here I’ll get into the nitty gritty of the features we’re building into this new plan, to highlight how dramatically improved the new platform is. We’re excited and if you use WordPress we think you will be too.