Product Optimize Breakout Summit/2020: A Managed Platform Will Change Your Business

Building, configuring, maintaining, and securing your own servers: cost-saving and lets you be in control. But, can you ensure you’re managing the WordPress lifecycle adequately without putting your clients’ business at risk? Are you able to clearly articulate the benefits of a fully-managed solution to your stakeholders? In this session, Sarah Wells, Product Marketing Manager, WP Engine, reveals the benefits of using a managed platform and how it can make a difference in your, and your clients’ business.

Video recording of session

Slides from the session

Sarah Wells, Product Marketing Manager, WP Engine discusses: 

  • What is a managed platform and what can it offer you and your clients? 
  • When does it make sense to go with a DIY solution over a managed host?

A managed platform should operate at a scale so you can scale your business without interruption.

Full text transcript


– Hello, everyone. I’m Sarah Wells. I’m on the product marketing team here at WP Engine. And I’m delighted to get to speak to you today about managed platforms and how it can really change and affect your business.


In our time together, I’m gonna be going through what a managed platform actually is, and what it can offer you, your clients and how it actually differs from any DIY solutions you might be going through.


Well, picking the right solution for yourself, for your clients is more than just a hardware comparison. This is a really important place for us to start because it gives us a good idea and also a nice starting point for what some of those key differences are between managed and DIY solutions.


And oftentimes, it’s where a lot of discovery actually ends. But there’s so much more that we get to uncover. When you peel back and really dig into what an optimal DIY solution looks like on WordPress, there are a lot of thing you need to be considering.


From how you’re configuring your database layer, to how you are load balancing your traffic. This image is actually a recommendation for how a DIY customers should configure their WordPress sites.


As you can see, it is a very complex image. But it’s also only showing the hosting aspect of a site. It doesn’t include any other additional configurations or tools you might need or want for security, monitoring, performance and other optimizations that you need to really smoothly operate your business.


On the other hand, this is what we at WP Engine setup and configure for you as a configuration managed infrastructure. Now, when I say configuration managed infrastructure, it’s a lot of words.


This actually means everything that you need to install, change and configure to make things exactly how you want them in a scalable and testable code.


Now, why would you want to do this? If you ever reply to a text with new phone who dis, you’ve probably dropped your phone in a pool.


But you also know that it’s really hard and takes a lot of time to get your phone back up and running with your contacts, all of your settings and everything else that you have in there.


Now replace that phone with a computer or infrastructure. A pool is not gonna be the culprit for either of those things failing. However, what if a power outage happens or if your entire system gets compromised, you’re going to wanna get your site back up and running both quickly and safely in a new location.


A configured and managed infrastructure allows you to do this with a single command that will handle everything for you. Without having that configured managed infrastructure, you are actually gonna have to spend a ton of time and work to get things back up and running.


At WP Engine, we actually do this for you or at our customers. And we’ve had 10 years to actually tune and optimize those configuration codes to ensure that you have the best performance overall.


Now there are several self-styled managed WordPress hosts on the market. All of whom will tell you the same story of motivation and simplification that I just did.


Where WP Engine differs is our breadth and depth of benefits and experiences that we provide to our customers. And of course, I’m going to detail our story here at WP Engine, where over our 10 years, we’ve had experience hosting the largest WordPress sites than anyone else.


And we have what we believe to be the most mature and comprehensive managed platform on the market. And a managed platform really needs to operate at scale.


Because when your solution is able to scale with you, your clients’ businesses or your business

is able to scale without interruption.


To give you an idea of the scale that I’m talking about here, we’ve seen it all at WP Engine. We’ve managed over 1.1 million sites with over 5.3 billion requests per day.


And we’re able to respond to all of our customers with a satisfaction rating of 98%. And we do this 24/7/365.


Now that’s really delivering excellence at a scale that nobody else is able to really touch. And this is also only a small subset of what we at WP Engine are doing on behalf of our customers every single day.


Fast, secure and reliable are the tenants of a managed solution. With a managed platform, we know that it’s more than infrastructure.


What actually makes up a managed solution is, in its simplest terms, that cloud infrastructure, a software stack, features and tools, integration and security.


All of these supported by world class experts with a deep technical expertise to ensure that our customers are really getting the fastest, most reliable and secure digital experiences out there.


Well, it’s true, we don’t wanna only stop and think about the hardware, looking at cloud infrastructure is the best place to really start to understand the benefits of a managed platform.


After all, it is the foundation for all great digital experiences.


One of the wonderful things about working with managed solutions, is that it gives you and your clients access to world class technologies.


From AWS to New Relic to Google Cloud platform to CloudFlare. You get diversity and optionality for all of your tools and solutions.


Now granted, with DIY solution, you also have access to the technologies but managing those relationships can take a ton of time and resources away from your company.


Additionally, if you’re wanting to upgrade or modify or change anything with those cloud solutions, you need to make sure you have the staff, skills and time and access to not only purchase new hardware, but to test and iterate before you go to market.


For example, with our incredible partnership with Google, we were actually able to get access to their new versions of hardware six months earlier to anybody else on the market.


We were able to test and iterate with them during those six months. And we actually were part of their press release, when we went to the public.


During our testing and iteration and actually converting our customers over, we also saw up to a 40% improvement when we migrated those customers to that new hardware.


Now, if you were doing this yourself with a DIY solution, what would happen is you would have to wait for it to be available to the public, it would cost you 22% more than what you were paying on your previous hardware.


And you’d have to have the time, talent and investment to be able to test and iterate before you’re able to actually go to market with that solution.


So when you work with a managed platform, you get access to tools earlier and faster and at usually no cost to you, versus when you’re doing it yourself. This actually brings us to our next pillar of our platform as a service.


A platform as a service is made up of that software stack, features and tools and integration. All of this is sitting on top of that cloud infrastructure we were talking about earlier.


Now, anything that we talked about is not a one and done from cloud infrastructure to software stack. But especially with software, things are constantly changing and being updated.


And you need to have a deep technical understanding and knowledge to be able to make those updates to ensure that your site is staying performing.


So an example of this WP Engine is, when PHP versions are coming out, you need to have the ability to test and make sure that when you’re upgrading to the next PHP version, you are not going to bring down your site.


Now if you don’t upgrade to the latest PHP version, that’s fine, but you actually might get a performance hit or you might have a security issue that arises because you’re not on the

latest software version overall.


At WP Engine, we have tools to upgrade our customers to the latest PHP version and we do it on their behalf. But we all we provide them with those tools to test to make sure that nothing

is going to impact their live site.


But also when we convert over, we can see up to 15% in performance improvement overall.


Now, this type of tool of our PHP test driver is only one of the many tools and makeup features and tools that you need. And one of the things that I like to think about is if you have features and tools, but they aren’t organized in any sort of way, basically you have a junk drawer that might not actually serve you or your customers when you need to.


So one of the benefits of working with a managed solution is you actually get access to the ecosystem of tools that work best for you, your customers and on that platform.


At WP Engine we have tools for managing everything from site management tools, managing multiple environments, managing your plugin upgrades.


We also send plugin vulnerability updates, you know exactly when you need to do things.


And if you don’t wanna do it yourself, we have tools that can automate that for you.


If you don’t have these comprehensive toolkits in there, you will not be able to get to market as quickly.


And you will not be able to respond as quickly when other things are going awry around your site maintenance and performance.


This brings us to our last tenet of a managed platform service, and this is integration.


But everything I’ve talked about so far really needs to be integrated together.


But when we talk about integration here, we’re talking about is making sure that the technologies and toolkits that we have are integrated across your organization as a whole.


Because if you don’t have one place to go and look to see what is happening, then your organization would suffer for it.


For example, if your team isn’t able to easily see how many visitors are hitting your site or how much bandwidth and data is being used on your platform, your site can start spitting out 500 errors at the worst possible time.


And too often and especially in DIY solutions, all the metrics that you wanna be able to see are siloed and being monitored in multiple places by specific individuals.


And they aren’t being surfaced to the larger company and the teams that need it to do their job right.


Additionally, what about when you are bringing on new people into your organization? If you don’t have a way to integrate your identity systems, or a way for people to actually access things easily, then you’re gonna take more time to get people up and running.


So at WP Engine, we actually now have an integrated identity solution so we can work with our customers identity solutions, to get them into our platform.


And then in seamlessly over into the WordPress admin. This really allows for

effortless experiences across the way.


With identity, this brings us to our last tenant of what makes up a managed solution, which is security.


And security is something that can’t be done in isolation. Because of any of the components that we just discussed are not secure, the entire system is not secure.


But security is something that really needs a lot of attention and time.


Now, regardless of the solution you will be implementing, whether it is managed or DIY, there’s some basic things that you should be sure are in place at your company to make sure you’re protecting your site and your business.


SSL, multi-factor authentication and encrypted databases are a few examples of those things.


The security is actually very hard and it takes a very special skill set when it is done right. And those companies that really excel in security not only have the passion for security, but they have the resources to attract the talent needed to solve incredibly complex and ever changing problems.


At WP Engine, we have an entire security team that is solely dedicated on going deep into security issues and problems.


They go deep in their knowledge to ensure that every other team product and solution that we are providing is secure, so that our customers are secure.


And we spend tens of thousands of dollars every year just in penetration testing.


That doesn’t include everything else that we’re doing across the board, to make sure that things are the most secure that they are.


Additionally, because of our scale, I mean 1.1 million sites, we have very complex problems

that are very interesting to solve.


And we have those resources to attract talented engineers that love to solve those security problems.


And our customers are able to benefit by getting access to talent and solutions they otherwise wouldn’t be able to have.


For example, not all organizations have the time and bandwidth to go through and maintain a Sock 2 Type 2 report.


At WP Engine, we have this report and our customers, especially our agency customers, who are able to expand their market assets to their clients benefit from this type of thing.


Additionally, we are able to combine both our passion for security and our work with the best in class partners to offer advanced security solutions for our customers.


At WP Engine we have built out Global Edge Security in partnership with CloudFlare.


It is reducing the risk of security breaches by blocking attack at the edge of any stack, resulting in smoother business operations and protected revenue for customers.


To date, this solution has blocked over 150 million attacks per month. That’s 150 million hits that didn’t make it to our customers or our customers’ clients sites.


If those hits had made it through, they’d be taking up those valuable resources that would be better served serving real visitors and real traffic.


Security, if not done correctly means a hit to your performance. Because those bad actors would be using up those valuable resources, in addition to any other security breaches that you might be having, or other issues that are compromising your site.


While security and performance aren’t something that happen in isolation, they’re also so related, it can have a huge impact on one another.


Which is why it’s important that you have a solution or team in place that can really dedicate their time to focusing on these things and go deep in their technical knowledge.


A managed platform really means a more powerful digital experience. With a managed platform, you actually have access to more resources, more technologies and tools.


And with WP Engine, you actually have it on the unequivocally fastest platform for WordPress out there.


But more than that, you actually have the bandwidth and time and resources to invest into your business and the things that make you thrive and the things that actually differentiate you from your competition.


You’d be able to invest in those things versus setting up and implementing configuration and storage and databases and tuning software and security breaches.


So with a managed solution, you’re investing in your business and the teams of the things that you want to do.


So it really comes down to a question of where do you wanna spend your valuable resources to make sure that you are doing what is best for you and for your clients?


So with that, we’re gonna open it up for questions.


Please feel free to put anything into the chat box and we’ll get right to those questions.


– Everybody, Monica Cravotta here, Vice President of Brand and Product Marketing for WP Engine.


And happy to have you for the Q&A session with Sarah Wells,  our illustrious product manager that you may have just heard speak today.


The session in case you got lost was A Managed Platform Will Change Your Business.


And this was basically looking at, what are really the bits and bobs within the platform like ours versus DIY?


What are some considerations? What are some takeaways? And if you’re an agency or a freelance developer, and you’re wanting to better understand this so that you can better articulate it to your client, that’s why we built this session for you.


So let’s get straight to it and take some of the questions here that are coming in.


Sarah, when would you recommend using a DIY solution or a managed host?


– Great question. So one of the things that I like to think about is, if you think of the continuum

of digital experiences, you have everything from a static website that is basically a picture of somebody’s cat, to the most advanced and most customized enterprise solution, that whole continuum overall, the bookends of that is really where DIY can really make sense and really make the most benefit for those customers and those clientele.


So one big thing that you really wanna make sure that we’re thinking about those four key tenants overall, is do you have the in house knowledge and technical acumen to maintain and setup when you’re on this one end of the spectrum where you need that advanced customization and everything else along with it?


If you have those resources to invest and maintain, and you also have incredibly complex systems and you want that granular control, then that makes sense for you for a DIY solution.


If you care about data isolation and traffic load isolation, that might be an example of

some of those customizations you wanna bring in house, that also then is there.


Upfront cost reduction is kinda the king of your driving decision. DIY makes the most sense as well.


Upfront though, is a key part of that. Cost reduction overall, isn’t gonna be effective when you’re looking at DIY on anything in the spectrum beyond your cash static cat page.


You also need to be willing to absorb the risks for any outages or attacks that you might incur. So if you’re not able to absorb those risks, or if any of those other things aren’t there, then there’ll be a managed solution that will be more attractive to you and to your business going forward.


– Excellent, super helpful Sarah. Hey, and as a side note, how cool is it you guys? I have no idea who’s logged in right now because we can’t see you. But Sarah and I are each at our home in Austin, Texas live engaging with you all and around the world. So I think this is amazing.


– It’s incredible.


It’s really awesome.


– Introverts unite, huh?


So, okay, here is the second question coming in for you, Sarah. I like the API access I get from other providers. What does WP Engine offer on that front?


– So API access. So a lot of things that with API products you get it, they enable you on the DIY side of like endpoints and automation overall.


So API’s within WP Engine is something that we’re actively putting the developer resources behind. We have a few things that are in flight and are there but we’re in a little bit of an infancy I would say from our robustness of our APIs to some of the things to get out of the box with some DIY solution.


So, again, if you have the staff for that customizable and are able to connect on all those different endpoints that you need, that might be another reason why today an API DIY solution would make sense.


– Gotcha, okay great. Another question. We heard a little bit about a new global network in Jason Cohen’s keynote and are curious to learn more. Is there anything you can share about that?


– Definitely. So that is definitely a little bit of a teaser that he led in there. So stay tuned as the short answer, but the longer answer is, so we’re actually working on bringing improvements to network access holistically to our platform.


Some of the key things that we’re looking at is to improve performance and traffic routing for our customers.


But we’re also trying to help unlock seamless migration capabilities between hardware and region.


So if you need to move regions because of some sort of security issue or like GDPR, or you have other things that you’re running into, those are the things that we’re taking into account as we’re building out this next evolution of network access into our platform.


So short answer is stay tuned. Still a big teaser there. Also happy to answer any questions and we’re looking at different vendors and different things.


So the chat products, we have some product people in there who might be able to answer some more technical questions that you might have her on that.


– Got it cool.


Okay, great. So, here’s a question coming in. If you could say to me because I need you tell my clients what are the three things that I should say?


– I think one of the big things is you are getting the entire support and infrastructure alignment around everybody else.


All right, there’s a little bit of feedback on my end right now.


So, but the support and online and continuous support that you’re getting from a managed solution isn’t something that they would be getting, if they’re doing it in DIY. So having that beck and call 24/7/365 is a huge benefit from our customers, especially on our agency partner side.


We see this all the time. It’s able to troubleshoot things in real time without ever actually affecting the end client or the end customer overall.


Security benefits would be another big aspect of this. So I mentioned in my talk earlier that we have an incredibly sophisticated approach to security holistically and also we go very deep in our knowledge across the board.


And so that is a benefit that we pass on to you then it is also passed on to your clients as an agency. So those security benefits aren’t available if you’re doing something that is a DIY kinda out of the box solution without that big investment overall.


So those are some of the big things I’d really leaned on when talking to your clients about why you’d want to use this managed platform over and out of the box kinda DIY solution.


– Okay, great. We got a question, one more question and then we’re probably gonna close it out. And Sarah, with the Global Edge Security offering the WP Engine has, what are the advanced features that are included in that that aren’t also or that aren’t included in WP Engine off the shelf or CloudFlare directly?


– Definitely.


So global security was built in partnership with CloudFlare. They also do have a Slack channel as well. So anybody tuning in and wanting to connect with them directly, please do. So we have advanced DDoS protection. So we’re doing this at a deeper layer than what you get out of the

box with our solution overall. We actually since we built this together, we have pre tested and coordinated rules that are in there so that they always work regardless of WordPress updates that might come about for example.


The other thing that you get is you don’t actually have to worry about maintaining, sorry I lost my train of thought there for a second.


Actually to the maintain the firewall rules on your own. So if you’re going direct, you’d have to do some firewall rule management, which does require some deep technical knowledge and can be kinda tedious at times.


So by using it with what we’ve built together in partnership, you don’t have to worry about managing those types of roles.


So those are a few examples of things that you’re getting with Global Edge Security that you wouldn’t be able to do without immense amount of work on your end.


– That’s super insightful.


Thanks, Sarah. I think we may be close to time. We’re checking the question list and there doesn’t appear to be another.


So I think we can wrap early and you all can have a few minutes back for a break before the next session. Thank you so much for joining us for the Q&A with Sarah Wells.


My favorite sheroes at WP Engine who by the way, is Co-Chairwoman for the WP Engine Sheroes.


But thanks Sarah for joining us today. And we’ll see you all for the next breakout very shortly.


– Thanks Monica and thanks everybody.

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