How to better distribute multiple sites on your Cloudways serversJanuary 28, 2016

If you are a web agency, managing many websites on behalf of your customers or you own many web properties that you need to take care of, you know the type of problems associated with it when hosting on legacy environments. We explain in this KB, how to better use the characteristics of cloud hosting and specifically the Cloudways platform to create the best hosting experience for people in this situation.

Issues with legacy hosting and large number of sites

Typical legacy hosting involved a large server (be it a dedicated physical server or a large VPS style server) with a CPanel or similar and pilling as many websites as possible on it. Typical problems faced with this type of deployment are:


  • No isolation – If there is any kind of issue with one of the sites in the server (hacking, DDoS, traffic spike …) it will affect all the other sites in the same server, causing a snowball effect of disgruntled customers and disrupted services.


  • Difficult resources accountability – All the same, when you need to charge your customers for usage or plan for a given site scaling, it becomes very difficult to understand how many specific resources a customer or a site has been using and get a clear picture of the real situation.


  • Laborious scaling – In many instances too (specially dedicated physical servers and certain type of VPS services), scaling is a complex process and may involve migration of your data from one place to another which is costly, disrupting and made worse if the number of sites involved is large.


  • Complex customization – Lastly, it is challenging to make certain customizations (i.e. upgrade PHP version, switch to MariaDB for extra performance …) when a large number of sites with its own requirements are deployed in the same server, as something desirable for one site may break functionality in another. This  generally leads to inaction (when it comes to patching, upgrading …) from people managing the sites and ultimately vulnerabilities exposure and hacking.


How Cloudways and the Cloud can address this

Cloud services offer you the flexibility of very quickly provisioning and decommissioning servers and the ability of quickly changing characteristics of those servers (scaling up and down i.e.). Cloudways, as a platform, offers the unique ability to deploy cloud servers with exactly the same configuration over the best cloud infrastructure providers  and to freely move applications around.

In our view, the best practices when you manage a large farm of sites and plan to move to the cloud, would be the following:


  • Distribute sites across servers and providers – As said, spinning servers is quick and easy and with Cloudways, even spinning them across multiple infrastructure providers. Make use of it. Instead of deploying a large server and host there tens of sites, deploy several smaller servers and distribute your sites on it. This will address most of the issues above. Ideally too, to minimize risks of a major infrastructure provider issue affecting all your customers/sites, distribute them across infrastructure providers.


  • Cluster sites based on type/size … – As said above, the fewer sites on a server the best. For big sites, you definitely want to deploy them on their own servers. For smaller sites, group them by type (i.e. WordPress) and deploy groups of max 10 sites on a single server. You can additionally subgroup by site size (how busy they are). The busiest they are, the less you want to put on a single server. Of course, you can cluster sites of the same customer together too in the same server … you get the point.


  • Carefully choose infrastructure provider and server location – Remember that Cloudways is about choice. We choose the best infrastructure providers for you and they offer a huge amount of locations to choose from. Understand each infrastructure provider characteristics and choose one based of your budget, how fast and how often you will need to scale and very importantly, the location you would like to have your server in. The closest it is to the site visitors the best experience for them.


  • Closely monitor and redistribute applications if needed – Cloudways offers a very strong monitoring system that will give you clear indications when a server is getting close to its limit. This KB clearly explains what to look for. Then you have the option of scaling your server or even moving one or more applications to another server or a completely new server on the same or different infrastructure provider.


Following these very simple rules will ensure that most of the issues highlighted above are minimized and that you, your customers and your visitors get the most out of what the cloud has to offer.

As usual, if you have specific use cases or have any doubt related to what has been explained above, get in your with us and we will help as best we can.

2 Responses

  1. Kelly Burton says:

    I was wondering how I can have my client create an account and then move the server that I created for them over to the new server so they can be billed each month for the server. I need to keep my existing account for development, but want to move the production server over to an account my customer controls and pays for .

    Thank you

    • Cloudways says:

      Hi Kelly,

      This is not currently possible, but we will be deploying a new “Transfer” feature during September that will allow any customer to transfer a server to another account on Cloudways. This I think is exactly what you want. Keep an eye for updates.

      Cloudways Team

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