As a web studio, we have always been focused on our core craft of designing and developing websites. Hosting would often be an afterthought and we’d typically suggest clients to go for a shared web host. After all, shared web hosting was inexpensive and did not require much technical oversight. We would guide our clients through the purchase process, deploy our code and bring our engagement to a closure.
This approach worked fine for a few years, but over time we started noticing several drawbacks:
- Server administration is a bit of a blind spot for clients. Some of them have even suffered website data loss because they overlooked renewal reminders.
- Our faith in shared hosting was depleting. Long support wait times, poor performance, being unable to reach our server while some other site on the same shared-host was experiencing a DDoS attack, etc. were frequently souring our experience. Further, the lack of control over server configuration severely limited our ability to install tools or fine-tune the server to meet modern performance benchmarks.
- Modern VPS providers were steadily decreasing prices while matching or eclipsing shared host offerings. They provided better access to hardware and high control over the software.
- Hosting technologies have become more complex in the last decade. It’s no longer just about the hardware (and bandwidth) specifications advertised by the web hosting services. A modern hosting strategy needs a holistically approach considering several aspects such as SSL renewals, reliable outgoing emails, caching, CDN, backups, software updates, and more.
By 2018 these challenges had become important enough for us to actively seek alternatives. We came across many different approaches — unmanaged VPS servers, managed servers, app hosting solutions, etc. However, none struck the right balance between —
- Extending full server control
- Ease of server management
- Reliable, high-frequency backups
Eventually, we decided to get our hands dirty. Based on our experience of setting up the server architecture for Guiding Tech (which receives lots of traffic and high rate of updates), we slowly put together a hosting solution which features:
- High-performance LEMP stack with FastCGI micro-caching
- Automated server-side image compression and optimisation
- Multi-tiered backup strategy — server snapshots, local backups and offsite backups
- Automated monitoring of uptime and server vitals
We launched in 2018, and in the two years since we’ve been providing a highly performant and reliable hosting service to our clients based on the above architecture. Under the hood, we use Digital Ocean VPS nodes and reinforce the software to deal with heavy loads and traffic bursts. Digital Ocean’s developer-friendly infrastructure (and their community documentation) has played an important role in our journey to offer high-quality website hosting. Through this post, I’m happy to also share that we’ve recently joined the Digital Ocean Solutions Partner Program. This brings us even closer to the Digital Ocean community.