One of the major decisions enterprise leaders face is choosing a content platform. Do you self-host WordPress on an infrastructure provider, like Amazon’s AWS, or do you partner with a managed platform that provides enterprise WordPress hosting?
Weighing the time and costs involved in planning, building, and maintaining a content management system (CMS) isn’t easy.
For a clearer picture of this challenge, WordPress VIP pulled insights from conversations with executive stakeholders about how they approached it. In summary, we found three main considerations driving these executives. First, which platform would allow their team to focus more completely on critical business initiatives? Second, which path was simpler — and was strategic guidance easily available? Third, which choice would ultimately be more performant and secure?
Below we take a deep dive on the advantages of choosing a managed platform versus self-hosting.
1. Creating Bandwidth for Your Team
Spend Less Time Managing Servers
There’s a common theme among engineering leads who chose to self-host: their developers spend too much time on site maintenance. Instead of developing new features for critical initiatives, their team installs software updates. They load-balance servers. They provision security certificates. The mundane, time-consuming work feels endless.
“We were hosting on AWS and that created an enormous amount of overhead for us,” a new customer recently told us. “We would rather shift our focus from hosting problems, which is a solved problem, and focus our attention on creating new business value.”
Many businesses we speak with have more than a hundred sites scattered across their enterprise, each requiring developer bandwidth. Their dev teams are constantly on the backfoot, never able to play offense.
These teams are attracted to features like the productized site management offered by the WordPress VIP platform — one place, one multisite management system. For many, it’s a dream come true to hear, “You’ll never have to see a server control panel.”
Nimbly Adapt to Digital Transformation
The pandemic forced many businesses to go online during the past year — but not all of them had the teams and expertise ready to handle the transition to digital workflows.
Choosing to self-host means choosing to manage critical work in-house. And, simply put, hiring isn’t always easy. Faced with accelerated timelines, many found it difficult to align a brand new team to their business not only as it is today, but also to as it needs to change.
Working with a managed platform allowed them to do more with the team they already had. Faced with the challenges of the pandemic, this ended up being critical to sustaining business operations: their teams could focus on critical functions and expertise, while partners like us alleviated the technical burden.
2. Leveraging Guidance and Making It Simple
Make Digital Strategy Easy
As you build your digital strategy, it’s easy to find yourself in an analysis paralysis of potential partners, integrations, strategies, and best practices. With the stakes as high as they are at the enterprise scale, this can be quite daunting.
It’s an understandable situation. There are more than 50,000 available plugins alone in the WordPress ecosystem, and plugins aren’t the only technical consideration for a content platform. Those choosing the self-hosting route also have to scope the complexities of managing AWS, GCP, or Azure, a pain point mentioned in every conversation we have.
“I had been wanting to find a partner who can help us,” the CTO of one of our customers told us. “Not only with hosting these sites — but also with making sure they’re aligned to best practices in the WordPress space.”
Guidance through the WordPress ecosystem by a team of experts adds competitive value to managed platforms versus public clouds. You’ll know which plugins are safe to use, which agencies have experience in your industry, which integrations make sense for your strategy, and how to safely accelerate these initiatives.
Get Peace of Mind at Scale
Enterprises turn to experts when they know their digital experience is going to be tested on a global scale. After all, complete responsibility can be intimidating. The risks with self-hosting become too high if you don’t have internal experts with experience handling billions of page hits, or who know how to step in when something goes wrong at scale. At that point, it makes sense to work with a managed platform.
Consider FiveThirtyEight, the opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging site. During the biggest week of their year, U.S. Election Week, we helped them hit more than a billion pageviews — with 100% uptime and a server response time flat at 144ms through the peak.
What they invested in was effortless scaling. Effortless scaling means that on your biggest day and every day, your site delivers unparalleled speed for users all over the world. Enterprises that want to pursue bolder digital agendas de-risk these initiatives by working with teams like ours. These teams have spent a decade routinely delivering the highest-profile WordPress deployments in the world.
Accelerate With Ready-to-Go Partners and Integrations
Using an infrastructure provider like AWS means managing your business partnerships (e.g., a design agency) and tech integrations yourself. This takes time, and not just in evaluation.
Part of the responsibility of managed platforms is to proactively curate the best-in-class options, establishing integrations and relationships with these providers. We embrace that approach at WordPress VIP, serving as the epicenter of an enterprise content ecosystem — neither a siloed player (lacking the capabilities you need) nor a monolithic player (that tries to sell you capabilities you don’t need).
Combined with strategic guidance and expert support, these established integrations and partnerships guarantee premier solutions primed to exact business needs, without the pain involved in planning, building, and maintaining everything yourself.
3. Ensuring WordPress Safety and Performance
Embrace Out-of-the-Box Performance
Performance tuning your digital presence can be an intense time-sink, especially if you are hosting the website yourself with AWS or similar providers. While this diligence is table stakes for managed platforms like ours, the larger benefit is that we’re already starting far ahead.
“I’m not sure what WordPress VIP is running, but it put up the absolute fastest scores that I’ve seen by a wide margin. They blew my test rig out of the water.”
Kevin Ohashi, Review Signal
Two distinguishing factors make our platform consistently the fastest WordPress delivery available to enterprises.
First, we are part of the Automattic family, whose CEO is the co-founder of WordPress. We work closely with the open-source community, delivering enterprise-scale WordPress deployments for more than a decade. We’ve seen all the bleeding edge developments in enterprise WordPress — and continuously invest to ensure we stay at the forefront.
Second, we own our infrastructure. And our business model isn’t to host anything and everything, like you might find with AWS, GCP, or Azure. Because we focus exclusively on WordPress, we optimize the hardware and software completely for that purpose.
Embrace Industry-Leading Security
Each software has its own ecosystem of security risks and liabilities. Public cloud providers like AWS host a huge range of software; their ecosystem of potential risks and backdoors is correspondingly massive. They do provide the option of dedicated hosting, meaning the hardware is dedicated to just what one customer wants to host. But, for that, you pay extra. It’s much simpler for managed platforms like ours that focus exclusively on one software (for us, WordPress).
We also own our own infrastructure — not every managed platform does. In fact, many resell AWS hosting.
Because we own the hardware, we have complete control over what is hosted on our servers. The range of possible risks is much smaller, but that doesn’t mean we are any less vigilant. As an example, extremely risk-conscious organizations like the Democratic National Convention Committee trust us to deliver their digital transformation.
WordPress VIP team members are on both the WordPress Security Council and WordPress release teams. Because we work so closely to the development of WordPress, we see changes coming and prepare our customers for them before they are released.
We are also the only enterprise WordPress platform that has earned the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) “Authorized” status.
Our customers rely on multi-level built-in security, using best practices based on decades of protecting WordPress at scale in industries like finance, health, defense, tech, and government. The ease-of-mind is transformational.
Why invest resources in planning, building, and maintaining your own cloud infrastructure (like AWS) when WordPress VIP can take care of the heavy lifting?
Our platform allows you to focus on your core business, empowering you with the ease, flexibility, and freedom you need to scale the digital experiences that drive your growth. To learn more, get in touch.