In this Q&A, we chat to Pere Hospital, Co-Founder and CTO of Managed Magento Hosting Platform Cloudways.
This interview is a little different - as extension developers we normally don't have a lot to do with hosting partners. But after being featured on the Cloudways Developer Q&A, I thought it would be interesting to get a hosting provider's view on what's happening with Magento 2.
Pere shares some interesting insights on Magento 2 performance, and advice for people considering making the jump from Magento 1.
Fooman: Let’s kick off with a brief introduction to Cloudways. When did Cloudways start offering Magento 2 hosting?
Pere: Cloudways offers managed Magento hosting that’s optimized to run stores at lightning speed. Our caching technology helps your website load fast with 100% accuracy and target customers effectively.
We did some cool experiments while developing and testing hosting environment for Magento 2. This version was not a regular update or a kind of SUPEE, but a whole new transformation, and we wanted to make sure that nothing goes wrong till finalization. That's why we had to find the best way to bring all the great features that run Magento 2 flawlessly on the Cloudways Managed Magento Hosting Platform.
It was March 2016 when we had accomplished our goal and offered 1-click installation for Magento 2. The installation is powered by a high-performance stack, named ThunderStack, that is further supported by cache technologies including Varnish, Memcached, and Redis.
Fooman: From a hosting provider’s view, what has been the biggest challenge for you with the new platform (Magento 2)?
Pere: It hasn’t been that terribly challenging. In fact, it’s the opposite. By default, the Community Edition now includes FPC (Full Page Cache), and we don’t have to maintain separate modules for caching and varnish integration. This is a bit of a pain with Magento 1 (since you never have the perfect match), so it has come as a relief.
Fooman: How do you see the future of cloud hosting as it becomes more popular?
Pere: I think there is a tremendous push to cloud hosting in general and managed cloud hosting in particular. This is not limited to Magento, though, but in general with most apps. The focus is more and more on the application and less on the infrastructure behind it. This is in fact what store owners and web agencies want; to be able to focus on their core business (selling things and building stores, etc.) and have someone else deal with anything below the app. Managed hosting fits very well with this mindset, so I predict a sustained transition to this model by most internet related SMBs (small and medium businesses).
Fooman: What has your experience been like so far with Magento 2’s performance compared to Magento 1? Which performance optimization method has given the best result for Magento 2 customers on Cloudways?
Pere: We provide the platform, so it is our customers who own the tempo for transitioning to Magento 2.
It has been a slow but steady process. In general, feedback from our customers is good, and performance, in general, is much better, with some customers reporting improvements of up to 50% on pages load time.
When it comes to performance optimizations, I’ve already mentioned that we developed our own stack called ThunderStack, and all the servers are optimized with it and contain Nginx, Apache, PHP-FPM, and MySQL. Also, we are using Varnish (primarily), Redis, and Memcached (optionally) to get supersonic page load speed. Servers are patched and optimized with the latest security patches. Some of our customers are also using Amasty FPC, which works great with our platform and improves page loading by 5x times.
Fooman: How are you handling the Magento 2 deployment process at the moment? Could you share some tricks to minimize the maintenance window during deployment?
Pere: As I said, we provide the bare bones for Magento 2 deployment to our customers, and they take it from there.
Our ThunderStack has a superb ratio of flexibility and performance for the apps we support in the platform. All processes are just a few clicks away. You can deploy apps on top of any of the five providers we support (DO, Vultr, AWS, GCE, and Kyup).
When it comes to tricks, we handle everything through APIs. From a customer's signup process to Magento 2 deployment, everything is based on APIs, and this is the biggest time saver for us.
Fooman: How long do you think it will be when Magento 2 becomes more popular than Magento 1 for Cloudways clients?
Pere: It will take a while. There are plenty of old stores but you know most people are too busy to find time for upgrades. Although many high-end agencies are pushing for the upgrade as they see the advantages and have the resources to test their customers and do the necessary R&D. Smaller ones and store owners will take a bit more time, though. However, 2017 should be an outstanding year to assess the real push for Magento 2.
Fooman: Do you see any major differences in clients who opt for Magento 2 vs. Magento 1?
Pere: Right now we have a high number of Magento 1 customers, and to be honest, while Magento 2 has better performance, design, layout improvements, it will still take a good amount of time to replace Magento 1.
I believe that Magento 2 is a tremendous improvement for both Store Owners and Magento Developers, and they should really consider upgrading.
Fooman: Finally, what’s your advice for merchants looking to upgrade to Magento 2?
Pere: My most important advice is to find a reputable agency to help you with it. I am far from a Magento expert, but I think one of the key aspects of a successful store is having a stable and sensible dev team on its back. Merchants who jump from one agency to another usually come to us in a ruinous state (and sometimes, unluckily, expect us to clean the mess).
The difference in performance for similar stores (be it Magento 1 or 2) is outstanding, whether it is coming from our most established Magento agencies or coming from merchants who have no dev behind (of course, on the same stack and same infrastructure provider).
So my only important advice is to find a reliable partner.
Pere Hospital is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Cloudways. He's currently focused on building Cloudways as a next-gen managed cloud hosting platform with simplicity and choice at its core.
Pere’s been involved in the tech startup scene since 2008. He helps other startups get rolling through participation in the Catalan government Start-Up Catalonia program as a mentor and through clarity.fm (startup advice portal).