So a few months ago I gave WPEngine a try and they are definitely a solid host. I rarely had issues and their support was always quick & knowledgable. Some swear by WPEngine others swear at them – overall my own experience was a good one, but the geek deep inside was just getting a bit too cooped up and I had to stretch those muscles a bit.
For that reason I’m back on Rackspace Cloud again. This time instead of just a single cloud server running everything I’ve gone all out and have a full “cloud” setup to see what kind of results I get.
My Cloud “Hardware”
Bearing in mind I intend to host multiple sites, some hopefully with large amounts of traffic, I have build this to be easily scaled but economical at the same time. My primary goal was to test out the load balancers which requires one load balancer per port – meaning if I plan to use https at all I need two load balancers. So I have two load balancers running in ports 80 and 443 pointing to one cloud server. I’ve gotten some strange reactions for this but the reason I’ve done this is for long term flexibility and scalability. Say in a year one of the sites hosted here explodes with traffic, I can scale one cloud server up but that still has it’s limits. With this setup I can within minutes build a new cloud server from an image and immediately go live with it in the cluster with a few clicks of the mouse. No DNS, no real configuration, just almost instant scalability.
This is fun and all but everything so far has been networking and compute. Where’s all my data?! Well it is in two places, I am using Block Storage as a central file store of sorts. This acts as its own volume I can attach to any cloud server, I’ve been told by Rackspace support in the future it there will be an option to attach it to multiple cloud servers – which is going to be vital for my long term plans. MySQL is now on its own Cloud Databases MySQL instance which is one less server to manage and puts all MySQL on high performance SSD SANs.
A server is only as powerful as the software that runs it and I feel like this setup has some powerful software as a backbone. The load balancers, block storage, and MySQL are all managed by Rackspace so I have nothing to worry about there. The cloud servers though I get to enjoy managing myself which means I need to choose a set of software.
I’ve always been an Ubuntu fan as far as Linux goes and it has always proved itself to be a strong server so I am sticking with Ubuntu. My old servers that are getting shut down are all running 10.04 LTS but I am upgrading to 12.04 LTS – part of the reason I was exploring my options was to upgrade Ubuntu and move to the next-gen cloud servers.
To serve web pages I am running Nginx + PHP-FPM. I have yet to ever run not any issues with this and until I do will continue with this combination. I am testing out Varnish to add in front of Nginx but have no immediate plans to go forward with it yet. My only gripe is having to manually add WordPress rewrites directly into the vhosts, but I’ll get over it.
So the short version is I’m back home with Rackspace Cloud for the foreseeable future. Load times are down, my inner geek got a workout, and I am very pleased with the results.