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Using managed cloud hosting for mission critical websites

Lee Matthew Jackson
Lee Matthew Jackson

Over the years our agency has had the privilege of working on some very large, resource intensive, mission critical projects. When it comes to advising the client where their investment should be hosted, we lean on the company that has served us best over the years.

Our podcast sponsor Cloudways are known for making it easy to host WordPress, Magento and other PHP driven applications across several of the major cloud providers. Whilst for developers their service can seem restrictive, as an agency owner and a company charged with maintaining the integrity of our clients infrastructure, we rely heavily on the Cloudways managed service.

About our agency

Our agency powers 100s of event websites and since early 2020 has hosted many virtual events attracting tens of thousands of visitors. You can imagine that performance, uptime, stability, scalability and support are all top of our list when serving our clients.

An event website is the main sales driver processing ecommerce transactions and tickets. Downtime can affect sales.

The virtual event is a “digital venue” for the live event itself and for paying attendees to be unable to access the event is not an option.

Managed vs unmanaged

Hosts will offer either managed or unmanaged services. Managed meaning you do not have “root access” to the server but have a control panel giving you enough freedom to get the job done without compromising the integrity of the server. Unmanaged being the opposite where you are free to do what you wish, install what you want and as long as you do not break any terms and conditions your service is left active and you are on your own to manage it.

Unmanaged seems an attractive proposition when you get unrestricted access to the CLI, can install applications and benefit from bleeding edge updates. However this is where the support can fall down. In an unmanaged environment, I’ve had companies push back issues to me explaining I am responsible for the upkeep of the server. Their responsibility is to keep the lights on but if I have broken the OS, it’s on me. I can either restore a backup, or fix the issue, or pay for extended support.

With a managed service I cannot break the integrity of the OS and the responsibility of ensuring the server can continue to serve my PHP application sits with the provider. This gives peace of mind and assurance that there are a team of experts behind the scenes I can lean on for advice, support and business continuity. I can also serve my clients with confidence knowing I am backed by a company much larger than my own.

Resource intensive and mission critical projects

As we host more and more resource intensive websites, it is important to us to have the experts on hand that can provide the right advice and administer the right support. Whilst we have significant internal server administration skills, our strength is development and maintaining the client relationship.

A managed service such as through Cloudways gives us access to cloud technology and ensures the expertise and technical know-how is available to us through them. With an unmanaged service we’d often lose focus on projects as we researched the latest OS quirks or worried about patches, security and other server related issues.

For all our larger projects, we talk with the team at Cloudways, work out the best environment and support package that would match the service we wish to offer to our clients, then we get started.

We want to build an agency we love, that our team enjoy working for, that delivers value and peace of mind. The freedoms in an unmanaged environment are attractive but the peace of mind running on stable, managed and supported infrastructure helps us in our low stress, high value mission.

What do you use for your hosting? Do you preffer managed or unmanaged? Do you totally disagree with me? Let me know in the comments!



Lee Matthew Jackson

Content creator, speaker & event organiser. #MyLifesAMusical #EventProfs