The Motley Fool Overcomes The Challenges Of Downtime With WP Engine
Birthdays are memorable. They’re a time for celebration. But Max Keeler, head of global operations for international investment information web site The Motley Fool, will remember his most recent birthday not for the party, but for the chaos.
During a birthday visit to a museum, Keeler’s phone buzzed. And buzzed. And buzzed. It wouldn’t stop buzzing. Turns out that all of The Motley Fool’s international WordPress installs were down. They were inaccessible across all countries – the UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore, and Australia.
The Motley Fool’s international expansion was a project that started more than five years prior. The company wanted to increase its global presence, and WordPress gave it a rapid time-to-market with reduced overhead. It was an experiment of sorts –get a foot in in a certain area and see how it grows.
“The name of the game for us is scale,” he said. “In order to make this work, we have to scale.”
With the sites down, Keeler and his team worked through the weekend. They tried everything they could think of to get the sites back online. If they restarted the servers, they’d get 15 minutes of new life, and then they’d go down again. They probed, dissected, and investigated.
With Monday fast approaching, Keeler and his team needed a solution. They had been talking to WP Engine for a project that was coming up and decided to accelerate that and move the international sites to the WP Engine platform to bring them back online. They moved the UK site first.
“It couldn’t have been smoother,” Keeler said, noting the migration took just a couple of hours and the team quickly noticed the site was “faster than it had ever been.”
With that positive experience under its belt, The Motley Fool moved the remainder of its international sites to WP Engine’s managed WordPress hosting platform. Within a week, The Motley Fool had migrated what was up to 25 instances on its old provider to four instances with WP Engine.
“It was a lifesaver,” he said. “I don’t know what we would’ve done.”
With WP Engine, Keeler said the 10 percent to 15 percent of the time his team spent on infrastructure is now roughly zero percent.
And the flexibility of the WP Engine platform gives the Motley Fool the ability to try new things.
“Five years ago, it would’ve taken three months of coordination to launch in a new country, now we can do it in a day,” Keeler said. “The cost of experimentation and trying new ideas basically rounds to zero.”
The Motley Fool has also seen performance improvements and better uptime. On top of that, the company found WP Engine to be more cost-effective than its previous WordPress platform.
“With WP Engine, we can focus on building our products, not on managing our WordPress sites,” Keeler said.
For more on how The Motley Fool works with WP Engine, check out the full case study.
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I had a very similar experience with one of my clients. This client has seven sites: The main site using WordPress, and the others being small, static HTML sites. The main site receives 400-500K hits per month. When this client’s sites were running on an often-recommended, highly-regarded hosting service, every couple of months we had to increase the account level to keep the main site running. Even so, the main site was still loading slowly, throwing lots of errors, and generally being cantankerous. I gave up trying to tune the site and resolve the issues myself because nothing seemed to be working, and paid to have the hosting company’s experts go through everything and make adjustments and recommendations. Hundreds of dollars later, I saw no improvement on any front. I started looking at other hosting options, dreading the prospect of moving tens of thousands of posts, media files, and comments, and transferring 16 GB of data from one host to another. Then one day, the site starting crashing every five minutes. The hosting company’s tech support had no clue what was happening. The only way I could keep the site somewhat functional was to sit at my computer for hours with an open browser window to check if the site was up, and an SSH session in a Terminal window to reboot the server when it crashed. The next day, I started the transition to WP Engine. 24 hours later, the site was running faster than it ever had before, and in the months since it has never crashed. This includes a few days of staggering traffic after receiving a favorable mention by a respected national politician. I’ve since converted each of this client’s other sites to WordPress, also on WP Engine, and everything is running perfectly.