How managed web hosts are evolving for a cloud-first world 

Posted 2021-08-03  in Cloud Education
blog header

Few industries have grown more quickly than the web hosting industry as small businesses recognize the need for a presence on the web. The advent of platforms like Wordpress, Shopify, and Magento have made it easier than ever for small teams of web developers to build refined, modern web presences for their own business or to serve their clients’ needs. 

Today, thousands of agencies, freelancers, and small businesses rely on these tools, many of them open-source platforms, to build exactly what’s needed without reinventing the wheel. Among the challenges faced by these small teams of developers is hosting, hence the years-long evolution of the managed cloud hosting industry. When agencies. freelancers, and small businesses want to avoid managing infrastructure, managed web hosts can provide a service by abstracting the many options provided by public cloud platforms. This empowers developers that don’t necessarily need to distinguish between CPU tiers or need to deeply understand pricing for their expected traffic. 

Why Cloud-First?

As with all things software, hosting businesses have moved to the cloud to take advantage of the many scale, support, security, and cost benefits. By building on top of an established cloud platform, managed cloud hosts get the same fundamental benefits as those who use public cloud providers directly, and can then pass along those benefits to the end customer. By leveraging public clouds, managed cloud providers and their customers can focus on what they do best. For the end customer, that’s a focus on building atop Wordpress and its peers. For managed cloud hosts, that’s a focus on adding immense value atop cloud computing infrastructure that’s purpose-built for their core hosting use cases. 

An added bonus: scalability and cost savings from public cloud providers are benefits that hosts can pass on to the end customer, resulting in a much improved value proposition that makes growing a cloud-first hosting service all the more compelling.

Considerations when building a managed hosting provider

Those looking to create a managed hosting business need to take several key factors into consideration. Most importantly, they must ensure the needs of their clients are met. Many end-users of managed hosting providers are building on Wordpress, as the most dominant content management system (CMS) available today. A typical end-user may be a small web agency with a team of a few developers all of whom know Wordpress inside and out. Key for that agency is (1) building on a platform that works, (2) building on budget, and (3) building on time for their clients. Managed hosting providers can meet these needs by building on top of reliable public clouds such as DigitalOcean. 

Building on a Platform that Works

Agencies, to take a typical managed cloud hosting customer, need a managed cloud host that is competitive in all the ways you might expect: performance, ability to scale, uptime, and support. Managed cloud hosts’ clients are bound to have requirements around performance and expectations of the volume of traffic. By building for the cloud in a way that works reliably at scale, the host can confidently offer service-level agreements that reflect that critical capability. 

Building on Budget

Second, and critically important to end-users is building on budget. For managed cloud hosts themselves, understanding the costs of hosting on some hyperscale clouds can be complex and the pricing model inscrutable. Similarly, for clients, pricing is a key requirement and where inscrutable, can pose a major problem. 

The typical agency isn’t thinking about the cost of CPU and bandwidth usage or about the performance tier they need to handle the traffic they expect. They want those details to fade into the background with pricing terms they can understand and predict so they can come in on budget. For a managed cloud host to provide that clear and transparent pricing, their own costs must be predictable, which is why they must build on cloud platforms with clear pricing models.

Building on Time

Support is critically important in client services since many, like our typical agency, are choosing a managed cloud host in part because they understand the specialized language of hosted software. When they run into a deployment issue or a bug that is specific to one of these technologies, the managed cloud host has the knowledge and expertise to help the client work through that problem. Clients have expectations of when things will get done and having a support team ready to help is critical in building trust. 

To build on time, and to ensure a managed cloud host will provide quality support to end clients, they need to know that their own infrastructure is taken care of. The managed provider must know  they will be taken care of by their own cloud provider, from initial deployment or migration of their hosted websites, to ongoing support if any scale and performance challenges arise. 

DigitalOcean for Managed Cloud Hosting

Whether you’re starting a new managed cloud hosting business or looking to take your existing business to the next level, your team has likely faced product complexity, unpredictable pricing, and inaccessible support from some cloud providers. DigitalOcean has a proven track record of building solutions that help managed cloud hosts scale their businesses. 

WPMU DEV is one such customer. WPMU DEV is a managed cloud host that services thousands of small businesses. Their small team of developers wanted to migrate to a lower cost solution without sacrificing support or performance for their clients. Using Droplets, DigitalOcean provided the team with a clear, transparent pricing model that matched their needs, assisted in migrating from their previous cloud provider, and offered top-tier performance at a very competitive price.

DigitalOcean is the only service that balances the flexibility and scale of a high-performance cloud platform with the cost and support needs of a growing small business.

Contact us today to learn how DigitalOcean can help you scale your managed cloud hosting business.