Legacy hosting environments are not the best option for hosting multiple websites, owning and managing multiple web properties especially if you are a web agency.
Issues with Legacy Hosting and a 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 piling 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 on 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 a 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 their own requirements are deployed on 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 Can Help
Cloud services offer you the flexibility of very quickly provisioning and decommissioning servers and the ability to quickly changing the 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 as 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 a server is quick and easy and with Cloudways, even spinning a number of them across multiple infrastructure providers. Instead of deploying a large server and host their 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 stated 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's characteristics and choose one based on 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 the location is to the site offers visitors the best experience.
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 guide 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. This way, your customers and your visitors will 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 touch with us and we will assist you as best we can.
That’s it! We hope this article was helpful. If you need any help, then feel free to search your query on Cloudways Support Center or contact us via chat (Need a Hand > Send us a Message). Alternatively, you can also create a support ticket.