WordPress-as-a-service tip: Flywheel

flywheelAt work I was asked to provide advice on WordPress hosting. As we don’t have in-house LAMP-experience and as I didn’t want to have to take care of server operations myself (been there, done that), I decided to look into WordPress as a service solutions. To make things a tad more complicated, hosting had to be in a European data-center as we wanted optimal performance for our local customers and as our Privacy Officer requires all company data to be in Europe.
I contacted several US companies, but eventually Flywheel came out on top; they confirmed they could host in Europe (Amsterdam), seemed pretty eager, had a great package and they could provide me with a test-account to play around with their solution. And so I did; I set up a stock WordPress 3.9.x with Autoptimize and WP YouTube Lyte (call me prejudiced, but I like my own plugins), imported a bunch of posts from this blog and had WebPageTest be the judge.
The results were quite impressive;

Document CompleteFully Loaded
Load timeFirst byteStart renderDOM elemsTimeReqsBytes InTimeReqsBytes In
First View (Run 3)0.457s0.120s0.292s9260.457s473 KB1.008s12152 KB

0.120s until first byte, 0.292s start render and 0.457s doc complete? Sweet! So yeah, given those numbers, their offering and the fact they can deploy to a datacenter in Europe I do think Flywheel is a great choice for those who are looking for WordPress-as-a-service (well, PAAS really) solution!

Like walking on a fluffy cloud

So what would a small-time web-tech blogger all of a sudden need Amazon EC2 or Google App Engine expertise for? For his real job, that’s why!
On Thursday, May 12th someone pretty high up in the company hierarchy decided we had to have a web application ready on the 19th. The catch: it had to be able to handle a shitload of traffic in only 2 days time. After consulting with a couple of specialists and reviewing our options, we decided to go for it with our existing web-development partner. Because of available expertise and resources however, we decided to switch from J2EE to .Net and to deploy the application on Microsoft’s “platform as a service” offering, called Azure.
In 5 days time (what weekend was that?), using a shared Google Docs spreadsheet as project hub (for bug-list, todo’s, translation strings and in document IM) the application was developed, tested and hammered upon with a huge load-test and on Wednesday-evening the final version was deployed on Azure.
The most interesting technical tidbits (as designed by a smart and very motivated lead-developer):

The application handled a huge amount of traffic the first two days. Due to circumstances the load was especially high on Thursday morning (with over 800 HTTP-requests/second), but performance and availability remained perfect. It was like walking on this fluffy cloud, really: