Business

WP Engine’s new product will keep your website chugging along during huge traffic spikes

Above: Mark Kelnar, one of the lead engineers for WP Engine's Development Labs, working in the company's Austin office.

Image Credit: WP Engine
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Most website owners hope to win the traffic lottery — whether that’s reaching the top of Reddit or getting a celebrity Twitter mention – but few can actually handle millions of page views without their site grinding to a halt.

WP Engine‘s new ‘Development Labs’ unit has developed a service that ensures your WordPress site will stay up during a tidal wave of traffic, as long as you’re willing to pay to handle the load, the company revealed exclusively to VentureBeat.

The new service, called S3 Mirror, will enable WP Engine customers to mirror their sites on Amazon Web Service’s Simple Storage Service (S3), a cloud-based storage repository hosted by Amazon.

WP Engine's Tomas Puig.

Above: WP Engine’s Tomas Puig.

Image Credit: WP Engine

“It will literally clone out the entire site on S3 in a static format on a regular basis,” explained Tomas Puig, director of WP Engine’s development labs, in a conversation with VentureBeat.

“Then say you end up with a million hits on your site, you can redirect to an S3 site and scale as much as you want to pay for.”

It’s not a real-time copy of the site, which would burn a greater amount of bandwidth; a static mirror is more scalable and cost-effective. In other words, it’s an insurance policy.

WP Engine hasn’t finalized pricing for S3 Mirror, which it’s releasing as an alpha product today, but it will be usage-based, said Puig.

S3 Mirror is the first product to come out of WP Engine’s Development Labs, which the company is unveiling today. While WP Engine’s broader focus is managed hosting for WordPress sites, the Development Labs unit concentrates on contributing to open source technologies — including WordPress core, Nginx, and HHVM — as well as building alpha prototypes like S3 Mirror on top of the WP Engine platform. Jason Cohen, WP Engine’s chief technology officer, will spend half his time in Labs with several additional engineers, including Puig.

“We’re pulling in the absolute best brains in the company,” said Puig, who noted they’re keeping the Labs team small intentionally.

“You don’t want to throw 100 engineers at a problem you want fast iteration on.”

WP Engine competes with other WordPress hosting services, including Automattic. That company employs a freemium hosting model, whereas WP Engine characterizes its offering as “premium” — the least WP Engine customers pay is $29 per month, while some larger companies pay “tens of thousands,” WP Engine CEO Heather Brunner told VentureBeat. WP Engine has measured around 200,000 installs across its 20,000 customers, said Brunner.

WordPress is the largest self-hosted blogging platform in the world, powering around 22% of the entire web. It offers both free and paid hosting options, but larger customers operating heavily trafficked blogs and publications require more attention and support when it comes to performance, reliability, data transfer and storage, scalability, and security. WordPress is open-source, which means that third-parties like WP Engine can swoop in to provide those added services.

WP Engine has raised $18.2 million in total venture capital, said Brunner. The company currently has 150 employees, most of whom work out of its Austin, Texas headquarters.

More about the companies and people from this article:

WP Engine is one of the most mature premium managed hosting platform for websites and apps built with WordPress. WP Engine powers tens of thousands of websites, delivering the fastest, most reliable, and most secure web experience. Bus... read more »

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7 comments
Adolfo Foronda
Adolfo Foronda

I liked this the first time it was called Squarespace.

Mohammed Ameenuddin Atif
Mohammed Ameenuddin Atif

$29 is costly.. I think I can rip the idea off and sell that service for $5 a month.. Any takers?

Joseph Manna
Joseph Manna

Wouldn't scaling across CloudFront be better for sheet speed and performance? Cool, I suppose. One thing is clear, it must be easy and quick to setup.

Michele Cipriani
Michele Cipriani

this is true for a basic use of WP, in fact it's actually used for several purposes

Eduard Luca
Eduard Luca

Amazon S3 already supports static files storage, so these guys didn't really do much, except to crawl each page and upload it to S3. Sad that such a product has or will receive massive funding.

Bojan Land
Bojan Land

Most WP sites should be static after a post is edited or published. I don't see why they need to be generated by the server, much of that content never changes anyway.