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I'm posting this as a community wiki because I'd like to get a collaboratively edited list of features for a high-end WordPress webhost.

For example, if you are running a high-traffic WordPress-based site and/or a WordPress site that needs really hardened security what features would you love to see offered so that you don't have to implement everything that exceeds the most basic installation of WordPress core? Many of us know that WP Engine has just launched and it's the closest thing to a high-end webhost specifically for WordPress that I'm aware of. But rather than have there be only one, it would be great if there were many webhosts offering a much higher level.

Admittedly I'm weak in this area which is one of my reasons for posting but I'll start with a strawman list of desired features. Let's ignore the non-WordPress related things like 24 hour phone support, etc. and ask that we also be specific i.e. don't just say "performance optimized" or "highly secure" like you see on this site, but actual specifics that indicate a specific implementation:

  • Preinstalled Memcached support
  • Standard .htaccess tuning for GZIP support
  • Optional integration with Amazon Cloud Front for upload files
  • Automatic file and database backup with an advanced admin console like a "Time Machine" on the Mac but for WordPress in the Browser.
  • Files that are automatically versioned upon FTP upload into SVN or GIT
  • Automatic database versioning into SVN or GIT
  • Pre-selected list of verified and supported plugins
  • What else? I'm sure there's a much longer list than I've come up with.

Another speciality feature could also be White-labeled turnkey WordPress multisite hosting. What I mean by this is a service that allows someone with marketing and sales experience in a vertical niche (for example, "Dry Cleaners") to offer website hosting for their market without having to do any technical work whatsoever, including having the host handle all support as well as signup and billing but do it white-label. I think there's a huge market for this.

Note I'm not asking because I want to create such a service, I don't, but I would like to see a definitive reference for webhosts who would consider offering such a service.

UPDATE:

  • Another feature that would be nice to have would be to have a service that could synchronize WordPress core, themes and plugins across multiple servers so that managing multiple server instances for a site that needs to scale would be easier and handled by the hosting company. (ref: Ticket #13067 - Configuration of Plugin and Theme Repository/ies)

UPDATE #2:

UPDATE #3:

UPDATE #4: Over on the LinkedIn WordPress group someone offered free hosting and I asked him what his service would offer to which he replied the following (need to become a member to see this link, membership is free but I think you have to be approved by the group moderator first):

In addition to those items he also mentioned:

  • Latest up to date version of PHP
  • Latest up to date version of MySql
  • MySql configured with high allocations of RAM
  • Systems configured to do their best not to run anything in Swap

And in addition to all the above someone else in the group suggested it would be nice to have:

UPDATE #5:

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closed as not constructive by anu, Brian Fegter, Wyck, kaiser, Stephen Harris Sep 24 '12 at 10:51

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Have you had a look at page.ly ? –  Adhip Gupta Aug 13 '10 at 3:02
    
I am familiar that they exist albeit I have never used their service. From the outside looking in they appear to be more focused on making at it easy for the small business newbie to host a WordPress site without hassle and reasonably low cost than a high-end WordPress specialty webhost whose cost scales with needs. BUT that is not a criticism, it is instead me trying to identify Page.ly's positioning in the market; there is need for both types of webhosts in the WordPress market. And I doubt that one host could be great at doing both. –  MikeSchinkel Aug 13 '10 at 3:15
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6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I think we also need a few more features:

  • Minifying JS, CSS and the HTML that is being sent down the wire.
  • Caching the op-code of the PHP that will be generated (apart from Memcached).
  • Upload the JS, CSS and Images that are used in the theme and/or plugin to a CDN and sync automatically.
  • Option to use one of the public CDN netwoks like Google for common resources like jQuery.
  • Offer a common CDN for all the WordPress admin scripts and images (which should be the exact same on multiple installations of WordPress) so that I can have that work just a little faster.
  • Managed DNS - To ensure that they can restore a backup of your site on another location automatically in case they have issues with the current hardware. With this they can automatically switch your domains over to the new settings.
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Great list of features! –  MikeSchinkel Aug 13 '10 at 3:09
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Yeah great list, but some of those are never on the hosters side, or are we talking about Application Service Providing here? –  hakre Aug 19 '10 at 10:52
    
The current hot trend in WordPress hosting is to host your blog directly. You just have the wp-admin as the access to your server/site/everything. In those cases, everything here can and should be done by the hosting guys. –  Adhip Gupta Aug 20 '10 at 13:13
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It always depends on the point of view. A webhost should offer

  • much RAM
  • much more RAM
  • much CPU
  • much more CPU
  • a separated Database Server from the Server hosting the Website (HTTP Server)
  • to setup the Database as Master/Client
  • to automatically outsource Files to a (private or public) CDN
  • a hosting service for comments so they don't rely on your blog (like outsourcing Comments to Disqus)
  • automatically cache your wordpress site with a special, wordpress aware caching module running in apache.
  • a Bytecache like xcache (to complete the list for Zend Optimizer, APC etc. that were already named)
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The question was asking what a high-end web host would offer. Your answer is suggesting what a person should do to configure a web server they are running. The answer is applicable to someone running their own server but doesn't address the question; what should a high-end web host offer as features to its customers. I won't vote down to give you a chance to update to address the question. –  MikeSchinkel Aug 18 '10 at 7:57
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Well I wrote it from the perspective of of the hoster should configure their servers then to offer. I adopted it slightly to better reflect the correct focus, right. –  hakre Aug 18 '10 at 8:08
    
Thanks! Upvoted. –  MikeSchinkel Aug 18 '10 at 20:19
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Access to a shell for the operations better done from the command line than the dashboard.

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Shell access is best for any kind of hosting. :) –  dgw Oct 23 '10 at 20:50
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From a security and performance perspective I think a high end WordPress web host should be run more like a managed server than a hosting company meaning that users would not have access to a control panel and should only be permitted SFTP access to a subdomain directory where their WordPress was installed. This would eliminate the need to run SuPHP and allow the host to run APC or another opcode cache.

High End WordPress Host Features

  1. Staging area for development and testing before going live with changes
  2. Nginx front end proxy for static content
  3. Dedicated MySQL server
  4. version control and alerts on file changes
  5. Redundant nightly file and database backups
  6. Built in support ticket system in WP admin
  7. SFTP and WordPress admin panel access only
  8. Pre-configured caching plugin
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Thanks for the nice list. I think what you suggest i.e. "locked down" would be one option that makes sense for a class of sites/customers but I'd hate to it be the only option. –  MikeSchinkel Aug 19 '10 at 8:50
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If you do all the caching, CPU, compression, RAM, and database tweaks, and still need more performance, consider a web farm for your blog, as in hooking up a shared NFS volume among several web nodes, and have your web nodes all use the same central MySQL database. You can build something like this with a free package called Ultra Monkey.

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Same comments on this I made on @hakre's answer. The question was not "How do I optimize" it was instead "What features should a webhost offer?" Sorry to be anal, but can you rephrase please? –  MikeSchinkel Aug 18 '10 at 20:20
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Hmmm, interesting... no one mentioned using LiteSpeed web server.

I ran some informal benchmarks in a review of 4 web hosts and the LiteSpeed server (MDD) had some of the fastest numbers. Scroll down the page to see the spreadsheet view: http://wpverse.com/eak

I forgot but I also saw one web host company said they were using SSD based RAID for their MySQL database farm.

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Nice! Thanks for contributing. –  MikeSchinkel Mar 3 '11 at 5:13
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