Okay, here we go. I know, we broke our rule on blog writing… again. We but we adhered to another cardinal rule in business: keep your clients happy. And we did this over the last 2 months as we positioned all of our offerings to reinforce this core value at Chewie Media. A pillar in our services ecosystem that this became most obvious was our hosting offering.
Chewie Media offers a completely managed hosting service for a nominal fee, or completely included in our monthly website plans. This is part of our desire to take the headaches out of website building and design. Being a completely managed hosting service, this can sometimes incur significant time investment from us during times of site migration, unexpected content loss by our clients (hey, mistakes happen! That’s what we’re here for), or the occasional security breach (I’m looking at you, SSL). We also have to make sure we are up on some of the latest requirements by governing bodies such as the new Canadian anti-spam laws which put some of the onus on the website hosts running email services, such as us.
Drupal has been a cornerstone of our development platform for years, and some of our developers, primarily myself, have been working with Drupal for almost a decade.
I mention all of this because we ran into an issue with our service provider – we lease out servers as a way to provide more value for what is paid, and to ensure that one singular point of failure would be unable to bring down any website. This issue had been cropping up now for the previous few months – websites were responding slower than expected and large-scale websites were noticeably sluggish. We were unhappy with this situation and had worked previously with techs at this service provider to remedy the situation. All attempts to fix this sluggish response was met with responses such as “Drupal is known to be slow, this is a software issue.”
We knew this wasn’t the case; Drupal has been a cornerstone of our development platform for years, and some of our developers, primarily myself, have been working with Drupal for almost a decade. Drupal can be slow if configured incorrectly, but in the right hands it can be snappy and powerful.
Eventually we had to look elsewhere.
if we are available to our clients at 3:00 am in the morning during an emergency, then our service provider should be right there as well if things get hairy (and not the good, four-legged kind).
We went with a company which has been known to work with Drupal and other CMS frameworks, and has had significantly good reviews. Scratch that, we actually ran tests on multiple providers before settling on this one. We decided to test out a different offering from MediaTemple, Bluehost Virtual Servers, and StormOnDemand Virtual Servers. We decided number one had to be speed, but a close second had to be service; if we are available to our clients at 3:00 am in the morning during an emergency, then our service provider should be right there as well if things get hairy (and not the good, four-legged kind). Our third option was customizability; how well would we be able to customize things to get precisely what we wanted out of the service provider.
Sparing the details, we were amazed with what we got out of the service and technologies provided by StormOnDemand. They completely overshot what we had experienced from our other two test cases, and confirmed our suspicions that all of the websites we were hosting should be able to respond quicker. For most of the websites we host, we encountered a 200% increase in speed. This increased to 800% for large-scale websites, and over 1000% for e-commerce websites – the results were simply staggering. As we began focusing on e-commerce websites and other large-scale sites with over 10,000 pages per site, this was an amazing development!
We believe in the long run, the payoff in performance and added client satisfaction should more than make up for the amount of time invested by us up-front.
Why this was exciting to us was that we were then able to provide this increase in service back to all of our clients without charging a dime. However, the man-hours to make this change were significant, but this is one of the differences between self-serve hosting for your website and fully managed hosting by us. We believe in the long run, the payoff in performance and added client satisfaction should more than make up for the amount of time invested by us up-front.
Making a change like this, while also providing our usual website development and design services to our clients has kept us busy, but we hope to not use this as an excuse with neglecting our blog in the future. As always, I am here to answer any additional questions you may have; I’m watching the facebook and twitter feeds for all of your website questions.