This article was published 12 years ago

The power of the cloud compels you (and explaining the week-long outage)

sun rays clouds sunset
Sun rays projecting behind clouds – Image credit: Flickr / Nick Perla
WP engine
Our new web hosting provider, WPEngine – Image credit: WPEngine

OpenBayou has a new home on the Internet and visitors should see a huge performance difference with our new provider, WPEngine. We decided to go with a new provider as our contract with our previous host expires in two weeks and while we were very satisfied with Hivelocity, we felt we were overpaying for underpowered hardware (dual-core Intel Atom processor). In addition to underpowered hardware,  45% of our monthly fee went towards cPanel – which became cumbersome with corrupt passwords and a daily barrage of Chinese users trying to gain access with no success.

After an extensive search, we decided to go with Rackspace. A couple of items that we liked about Rackspace: a cloud architecture, pay by the hour, and iOS (including the iPad) and Android mobile app to manage the servers. While those features were nice, the main point with Rackspace that we liked was the ability to re-size a server without building it from scratch, which was the main difference between Rackspace and Amazon AWS.

The next day, we knew that it was a mistake that we picked Rackspace.

The first problem we had was with the operating systems. We wanted to have two servers: one for MySQL and the other for the web. What we liked about Rackspace is that servers can talk to each other without paying for bandwidth. The problem was no matter what operating system you picked, one could talk to each other. In our situation, we had the latest version of CentOS (6.2) but the components to run a server (PHP, MySQL, and Apache) were outdated. If we picked the latest version of Ubuntu, everything was up-to-date but – for some reason – incoming connections were blocked.

This went on for a week, which is explains why the website was down.

Frustrated, we went with another search and we came upon WPEngine. What we like about WPEngine: no setup, fast connections and it uses a cloud
architecture. What we don’t like about WPEngine: some plugins are forbidden and one of the plugins we used is on the list – W3 total cache. The good thing about WordPress, there are alternatives and we found one.

The service is not cheat, we have the lowest plan that WPEngine offers. Even with the lowest plan selected, it’s still significantly cheaper than our previous host and the performance is greatly improved.

Amazon AWS
Amazon AWS is our new CDN provider – Image credit: Amazon

The second option we enabled on OpenBayou is the use of Amazon AWS and their CDN (Content Delivery Network) network. All of our images are stored on Amazon’s S3 service with CDN service. What this does is our images will be pulled from the nearest location of the user. This will speed up the site and reduce bandwidth costs on use, especially since Amazon has ridiculously low rates for this service.

This is just some of the improvements we continue to roll out. Many more are in the works!