Review By: Tom George, Editor, findbestwebhosting.com
1-Click Hosting On Top Of Super Clouds
I had been hearing a lot about about Cloudways recently and was curious to find out more details. Being mostly focused on wordpress blogs and development recently, I did keep this in mind. So decided to test it out myself.
In a nutshell, Cloudways is a one place shop where you can quickly setup a Cloud server using any of 3 super popular Cloud server Providers.. They are
Google Compute Engine
You can Deploy unlimited applications on top of any of the above 3 cloud service providers in a few clicks.
Now this is a detailed review and make sure you see the slideshow towards the end of this article, that shows you step by step how a cloud server can be created using Cloudways Click and Go Control panel.
Why go for Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting describes a method of configuring servers in a flexible way to allow for the most affordable, scalable, and reliable web infrastructure - Definiton of Cloud hosting by DigitalOcean
This infographic from Forbes.com shows why businesses are embracing cloud.
Why Cloudways and what do they offer:
High Performance Managed Cloud Hosting Platform
Offers Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
You have 3 Cloud Service providers to choose from to setup a cloud server. Users have the option to setup your cloud server in Amazon EC2 cloud or Digital Ocean or Google Cloud Platform. You start with choosing one of these providers and then configure your cloud server on it and deploy apps on the selected provider.
1 click interface to install and deploy popular Apps like WordPress, Prestashop, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, Moodle, SugarCRM and PHPStack
Developer Friendly: 1 Click App or Server Cloning, 1 Click Backup or restore, Staging Areas for your Apps, SFTP & SSH Access
Proprietary formula optimized for speed. Built on a stack of NgInx, , memcache, varnish.
"Click&Go" interface allows you to configure your server exactly the way you want it. (See slideshows below). Easy and trouble free way of setting up a cloud server. If you try to do this directly in any of these 3 providers, it does require some learning curve. (Of course, easy for a techie who is well versed, but for a small business owner , this kind of control panel is a real find)
Dedicated Cloud Servers - Each Cloud server is a dedicated one
Automated firmware and OS Patches
Elastic Search avaialble
Varnish Ready Hosting - Advanced Caching
The super popular Varnish Cache comes pre-configured as part of every Cloudways cloud server. It uses a proprietary VMAN Formula that gives high performance. Sudden spikes in traffic are handled very well. It has several layers of caching. VMAN involves following 5 layers as shown in picture above
Nginx - This Web Server is used for serving your static content
Varnish - The famous Varnish is part of Caching layer to speed up content delivery.
MemCached - Another Layer of caching - mainly for db queries
Apache - is your web server
Cloudways claim that this combination of 5 layers can cut down load speed by 50%.
You can manage Varnish from your control panel. You can Disable Varnish or Purge Varnish, if needed.
How to integrate Varnish with WooCommerce for Superior performance and Speed
WooCommerce is an excellent and easier way to start an ecommerce store using Wordpress. But WooCommerce is resource hungry and as your product inventory goes up, it could result in longer load times and poor performance.
Now adding Varnish caching to WooCommerce can really speed up your store upto 100%. But the setup and steps involved to make WooCommerce and Varnish compatible is complex and not straight forward, especially for store owners, who are not so tech-savvy.
To resolve this issue, Cloudways has come up with a 1-Click install of Woocommerce with Wordpress that also integrates Varnish. This takes away the headache of set up and the tweaks for making Varnish compatible with Woocommerce and this setup is fully optimized with Nginx, Varnish, Apache, and Memcached
[caption id="attachment_9628" align="aligncenter" width="722"] This screenshot shows how you can create your Varnish compatible WooCommerce store in just 1 click[/caption]
PageSpeed and performance of WooCommerce with Varnish
I installed WooCommerce in my DigitalOcean Cloud and then took a Page Speed test to evaluate the performance of this WooCommerce store.
Prior to the test, I added Dummy Product data to the empty store to fill in with products, as suggested in WooThemes Blog.
Then I took a PageSpeed score of this app from PingDom and I got a pagespeed of 376ms, which was impressive. Now, I do agree this is not a full fledged store with many products, but a pagespeed of 376ms is pretty good.
[caption id="attachment_9629" align="aligncenter" width="713"] PageSpeed score of 376ms for WooCommerce shop in DigitalOcean (with Varnsh Enabled)[/caption]
Note: This WooCommerce store was setup on top of a DigitalOcean Cloud.
Cloudways lets you clone your App. The cool thing is, I can clone my app to same server or to another Server in a different cloud provider. In doing so, I can copy the entire App(files, db everything ) with minimal effort - 1 click.
Why Clone An App? You can use cloning to create seperate environments (Development, Test or QA , Production or Live area)
The WooCommerce App I created above was in my Digital Ocean cloud.
So I decided to clone it to my other Amazon EC2 cloud.
Idea was that:
I can see how it clones
And then test page speed/performance of the Cloned App in Amazon Ec2.
How to Clone An App
Here are the steps I took to clone the App to another Server:
Open your cloud Server and then Select your App from "My Applications". Then Click on "Clone Application"
[caption id="attachment_9658" align="aligncenter" width="864"] Choose the Clone Destination[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_9664" align="aligncenter" width="466"] Choose Server for cloning[/caption]
This is where I choose where to clone my App to. I chose my Amazon EC2 server.
Now I can see the status of App Clone creation process...
[caption id="attachment_9653" align="aligncenter" width="428"] App Being Cloned[/caption]
And now Final Clone App ready in Amazon cloud.
[caption id="attachment_9666" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Final Cloned App in Amazon EC2[/caption]
Performance: I then took a Speed Test of this Cloned App. Here's the result.
This Cloned WooCommerce App(in Amazon cloud) gave a slight improved speed when compared to my WooCommerce App in . DigitalOcean, from which I cloned. An improvement by 61 ms.
Cloned App in Google Cloud;
I also cloned the App to my other Google Cloud server and here's the page speed report:
[caption id="attachment_9669" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Speed test of WooCommerce Cloned App in Google Cloud(GCE)[/caption]
So basically a few milliseconds page speed difference here and there for the cloned Apps across all the 3 cloud servers.
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Pricing and Trial Period
Since Cloudways is offering you 3 cloud providers to choose from, the pricing as well as trial period varies for each provider. Once you choose your provider, server size , bandwidth, optional add-ons etc the cost for the selected configuration is displayed so that you know exactly how much it is going to cost you. (See slideshows below that shows details and screenshots for each provider). This is also a good thing, because you can scale up as your site audience grows.
What I really liked here is the user-friendliness of the control panel. You can quickly setup your server.
Here's a base comparison.
Price Range(based on server size and bandwidth)
Starting from $5
Amazon Web Services
Starting from $34
Google Compute Engine
Starting from $31
As you can see here, for Amazon and Google cloud platforms, trial period is limited to 3 days.
Note about DigitalOcean platform:
The base plan for $5(512 MB Server size) is only useful for a single app test website with minimal traffic. For a production or live app (like a wp blog), Cloudways suggests a 1 GB server size configuration, which costs $15.
Also I noticed that for DigitalOcean, while you can choose server sizes, there is no option for selecting bandwidth. AWS and GCE has options to select bandwidth.
How to create a Cloud server in Cloudways? Step by Step SlideShow with screenshots
Note: Cloudways was generous enough to provide me a test account to play with and I made use if it 100%. I could setup multiple servers, with all the 3 cloud service providers and thus I could play with each of them.
I created separate cloud servers and installed Wordpress in all these 3 providers: Amazon EC2, DigitalOcean and Google.
I also played with App Cloning across all these platforms. About that, a bit later, after this slideshow.
Following is a slideshow that shows steps involved in installing a Wordpress App in Amazon EC2 using Cloudways Click&Go control panel.
This slideshow is also a walk-through of the Click&Go control panel, which has server management tools as well Application Management tools.
Very Important: It is very important that you read comments under each image in the slide, because some of the slide images are big and you may have to scroll down a bit to see the comments. I dont want you to miss those comments/info under each slide.
Cloudways also has a set of premium add-ons. Here they are:
You can use SendGrid add-on for transactional email delivery and management service
Starts from $1 for 1000 emails
You can use DNS services via our DNSMadeEasy add-on.
Starts from: Upto 5 Domains($ 2.50 /month)
For email hosting, you can subscribe to Rackspace Email add-on.
Starts from: $2 per month for 1 email
Use the free SMTP addon to setup outgoing email delivery via popular providers or your own setup
You can use NewRelic Pro add-on for monitoring your application(s)
$ 139.00 /month per server
Cloudways provides support using:
Live Chat: Found Live chat support helpful. I tried live chat at around 9:00 AM EST and response was immediate. No waiting period.
Ticket System: Standard e-ticketing system. Response via email.
Knowledgebase: I found Cloudways Knowledgebase vast and has useful tutorials for most of the tasks that you hay have doubts or questions about. In addition, inside the control panel, under each section in Application or Server management area, you can see relevant links to the respective Knowledgebase article.
[caption id="attachment_9713" align="aligncenter" width="599"] Cloudways Knowledge base has useful articles and tutorials with complete instructions and screenshots, for most of commonly asked questions or tasks[/caption]
Note: Cloudways does not have phone support.
Cloudways System Status Update Page
Server Issues are reported in this page. I found the system status update area very transparent. I noticed minimal issues reported here. Though one data center issue was reported and it was displayed in status page . I also received an automatic email notification about this as well.
[caption id="attachment_9714" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Cloudways System Status - Past Incidents[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_9715" align="aligncenter" width="462"] System update page updaes. In this example, da daa cener relaed issues is reported[/caption]
After my evaluation, I found Cloudways to be a very good performer, both in terms of server performance as well as support. Team Management is a set of young folks and are very experienced.
What I also liked about Cloudways was the easiness of setting up a Cloud Server and then Apps within it, with simple Clicks from a control panel. And performance and features (especially Varnish) were more than impressive.
While this review mostly focused on Wordpress Managed Hosting , Cloudways also can be used for Drupal Managed Hosting, Magento Managed Hosting and for other Apps available in Cloudways App List.
Why don't you take a trial? No credit card is necessary and you can quickly setup a server and your favorite app in no time. If you don't like it, you have nothing to lose.
Take a Free Trial of Cloudways. No Credit Card necessary
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