WPEngine talks about their take on WordPress Hosting

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Jason Cohen Co-Founder and CEO, of WP Engine, was able to talk with us for a bit about the WordPress hosting service they have created.

Be sure to read our full WP Engine Hosting Review to learn more about this top notch hosting company.

[wpe] Here are Jason’s answers and [wphr] are the questions from WordPress Hosting Reviews.

[wphr] Hi Jason thanks for joining us today.

[wpe]Thanks for offering to list us as part of your reviews!

[wphr] What makes WPEngine a great WordPress hosting company? Can you explain your primary service offerings?
[wpe] We’re great — and unique in this industry — for four reasons:

  1. We’re faster than any competitor, and we have the data to prove it. On average our customers see a 4x speed improvement when they move to us. Faster means more pageviews because people don’t hit “back” waiting for the page to load, and higher search rankings in Google and Bing.
  2. We scale under traffic — we sustained 2000 hits/sec recently when a customer got on a popular TV show.
  3. We’re the only hosting company which has a Security Guarantee — if you get hacked, we’ll remove the malware and patch your code, on us! To prevent hacking in the first place, we use both technology and advice from two top-tier security firms.
  4. We have the largest number of WordPress experts on staff per 1000 customers than any other hosting company on Earth. That means great, personal, helpful support.

[wphr] We are interested in learning a little about the history of WPEngine. When was the company established? When the founders came together what were some of the goals when creating WPEngine?

[wpe] WP Engine was started in early 2010. Here’s my story of how this came to be: http://blog.asmartbear.com/vetting-startup-ideas.html The goals were to genuinely address the issues listed above, and we think we’re doing it better than anyone, and continuing to innovate.

[wphr] How has WPEngine grown since inception? About how many sites do you host?

[wpe] We host many thousands of blogs and we’re growing by double-digit percentages month-over-month. We’re also hiring a lot to make sure our service doesn’t suffer as a result of fast growth.

[wphr] WPEngine runs a different type of hosting than the typical oversold shared host. How is the WPEngine server environment built?

[wpe] Our infrastructure is really cool, and we love geeking out about it. 🙂 We only use dedicated, kick-ass hardware, none of that slow virtualized stuff, with things like SSD drives and top-of-the-line XEON processors. We use a clustered environment with no single point of failure anywhere. We have a custom-built caching front-end designed specifically for WordPress, which means we can serve 10,000 requests/second without every hitting PHP or the database. We bundle and manage for you a CDN for your statics for even faster delivery. There’s more… how much time do you have? 🙂

[wphr] Security seems to be a top priority at WPEngine. What steps are taken to secure your servers and protect against attacks?

[wpe] On the front end, we use a DoS-prevention appliance and firewalls which inspect packets for bad behavior (not just “block ports except for 80”). We block about 10,000 bad requests daily. On the server-side we use things like AppArmor and chrooting to ensure customers are properly jailed. For malware we partner with Sucuri to scan sites both internally (on disk) and externally (hacking attempts), and to mitigate anything found there. We also do a lot of back-end stuff like file system audits to look for more bad behavior.

[wphr] What is the most challenging part of running a hosting company?

[wpe] Two things: 24/7 attention, which is physically hard, and balancing spending hours helping customers with having enough time to help all customers. Particularly when there’s a site problem, it turns out to be the customer’s fault, we find and fix it for them anyway, but meanwhile they’re angry at us because “my site’s down” and they assume we did something to them. But all’s well that ends well.

[wphr] How does your service help a small to medium sized business improve their online presence?

[wpe] Fast sites are ranking higher by Google and Bing; that’s something everyone wants. A faster site also makes you look sharper and more stable, just like good design. And of course, it’s never good if your site goes down because someone else on your shared server is using too many resources or gets hacked! So just for simple site up-time it’s a simple equation. Finally, having tech support that really can help with any WordPress question means you can do just want you want to do with your site.

[wphr] How do most customers learn about your services?

[wpe] Most of our new sign-ups are from word-of-mouth! That’s a great sign for us because it proves we’re delivering a good service that people like. We’re starting to experiment with advertising and sponsoring events like WordCamps, and that’s good too.

[wphr] What is one thing most people do not know about WPEngine?

[wpe] Most people don’t know that our vision isn’t to just be another hosting company that serves WordPress incrementally better than other people, but rather to transform what it means to host WordPress. The stuff listed above is a good start and differentiates us from everyone else, but we’re not done. We’re not quite ready to announce our new product offerings, but we’re about to change WordPress hosting as much as Heroku changed Ruby on Rails hosting.

[wphr] Anything else you would like to add? Future releases, new technology, etc…

[wpe] Here’s a sneak peak! If you mange multiple WordPress blogs — no matter where they’re hosted! — come check out our beta tool at http://portal.wpengine.com. It gives you single-sign on to all your blogs, so you don’t have to track usernames and passwords, and it provides other useful information like whether you’re behind on WordPress upgrades and tools for diagnosing site problems.

It’s just in beta now — look for lots more cool stuff there in the next 6 months!

Thanks again! –Jason

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