Ben Gabler and Patrick Gallagher Talk To The Admin Bar About Choosing The Right Web Host

Ben Gabler and Patrick Gallagher Talk To The Admin Bar About Choosing The Right Web Host
  • 52 min read

Does the hosting industry elude you? Is managed hosting the best option, or being your own DevOps team? And what makes for hosting in general? If client websites are on “the cloud” are they automatically secure? 

In the February 10 Admin Bar live broadcast, Kyle Van Deusen talked with the CEO of Gridpane Patrick Gallagher, and our very own Ben Gabler over the highly debated question about choosing the right web host. Like all good live podcasts, the conversation winded in many directions and actually uncovered some hosting industry secrets.

Maybe you’re an agency owner like Kyle who works with hosting but doesn’t know the ins and outs (tooling, hardware, security). This question is frequently asked in online communities like The Admin Bar, but the answer depends on various factors. There are thousands of hosts out there. How do you know which is the best match?

Generally, the more you pay for hosting, though not always, the better hardware, software, and service you get. Pagely was the innovator for Managed WordPress hosting and opened up an entire market for Managed Hosting in our community. 

Unfortunately, price perception and expectations early in the hosting years was fixed by $3 hosting, which shouldn’t exist, frankly. Your business – and that of your client portfolio – needs to have a website. How much is that revenue-generating machine worth a month? Only $3? Or $30?

Patrick and Ben also talk a lot in this video about CDNs, hardware, software applications, and if cPanel is enough anymore. (Hint, it isn’t).

Also mentioned is the idea that a care plan and hosting requirements should be brought up at the beginning of the conversation with clients. You don’t want to manage 6 different web hosts, do you?

For a true insider’s look at the hosting industry from a couple of veterans about their collective experiences over the last couple of decades, watch what Ben and Patrick reveal to Kyle about what really happens behind the scenes.

Raw Video Transcript 

Kyle Van Deusen (00:00:25):

All right. Hello and welcome to this special live event for The Admin Bar today. Today, I am joined by two guests with a whole lot of experience in what is probably one of the most debated questions inside of our group: which, which host should I choose? You don’t have to spend very much time in our community or any other community to see somebody asking that question, but it’s one of those questions that the answer really depends on a lot of factors.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:00:46):

So today I wanna spend time picking the brains of two people that know a whole lot about this industry and find out what kinds of things it depends on ,what we need to be really looking for when we choose a host, and what things are kind of irrelevant that we seem to get hung up on. You know, there’s all kinds of different websites out there. There’s different kinds of agencies running things different ways, and there’s lots of different hosts from shared hosting to VPs Cloud to manage to non-managed to static. There’s a whole lot of things to consider. So the goal for today’s call is going to be to help us kind of analyze what we should be looking at in terms of what is our setup, what is gonna be best for our clients, and then help us kind of narrow down the types of hosts we should choose for that.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:01:25):

So, uh, like I said, there’s no, uh, two better people I could ask to join us in this conversation here. So I want to give both of them a second here to kind of introduce themselves. We’ll start off with Patrick. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, uh, and what you do.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:01:38):

Sure. I’m Patrick Gallagher. I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of GridPane. And GridPane helps serious WordPress professionals smash their hosting problems. So we, on February 1st, so just, uh, what, nine days ago, we celebrated our fifth birthday. Um, and what we do is, um, we, we provide the most impact, I think, for, um, large-scale agencies. So if you’re just doing, um, one website, uh, we might not necessarily be the best fit, but if you’re managing dozens or hundreds or even thousands of websites, um, particularly if you have customers all around the world, um, we connect to pretty much any data center on the planet. Uh, and so we can help you, uh, solve for pretty much anything out there. And so we fall in the self-managed space, um, which we can kind of get into, uh, as we go through all of this. But, uh, yeah,

Kyle Van Deusen (00:02:26):

Absolutely. And a resident smartass inside The Admin Bar Community

Patrick Gallagher  (00:02:29):

<laugh>. Forgot that part. Yeah. Yeah.

Ben Gabler (00:02:32):

Not just in there.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:02:34):

I try. Yeah. No, it’s, it’s everywhere.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:02:35):

It’s everywhere. That, that’s just where I know you from <laugh>. Perfect. And also, uh, Ben Gabler, you’re the CEO of So why don’t you tell us a little bit about, uh, your background and, and what it is you guys do at

Ben Gabler (00:02:47):

Sure. Yeah. Thanks for having me today. Uh, kind of, kind of one of the hosting industry dinosaurs. I’ve been in the industry 20 years now. Uh, originally started my first hosting company back in the early 2000s and joined HostGator uh, like probably, I think it was employee number eight back in the day. And, uh, you know, when the company moved to Houston, I decided to start another company of my own, which was HostNine. I grew that to, uh, just under 2 million in revenue, Uh, bootstrapped in my twenties. Sold that to HostGator and went back as COO.

Ben Gabler (00:03:16):

And, you know, when they decided to sell the company, I kind of took a break. I did some consulting along the way, and then, uh, took on a Senior Product Manager, of hosting role at GoDaddy, uh, in 2013. Uh, relaunched all the hosting products there, including cPanel, and, you know, was a big part of the Managed WordPress Product back then at GoDaddy. And, uh, one of the, you know, helped a lot with GoDaddy Pro. So, so really familiar with kind of the landscape of some of these larger hosting companies out there.

Ben Gabler (00:03:43):

And, you know, uh, ultimately took on, after a couple of startups, did a chief product officer at a company called StackPath. Uh, very similar to CloudFlare at a much smaller scale. But, you know, I had this idea at StackPath where, you know, one of the brands we bought was MaxCDN, and we would see a lot of users coming in trying to use a CDN, trying to, you know, set up their plugins to use it. And it was just kind of a, a very bad approach to just offload just static assets. So, you know, we saw a huge turn rate, uh, kind of positioned this idea for us to build this sort of edge in, in a box solution for WordPress, kind of somewhere to what ended up becoming a CloudFlare.

Ben Gabler (00:04:18):

And the board was more interested in enterprise engagements. And, you know, uh, I had actually talked to Brian Jackson back when he was still at Kinsta, and it just kind of fell in some deaf ears over there. So I said, you know what, uh, I’m gonna go out and just, you know, jump off the, the mountain and build a parachute on the way down. And you know, what we, what that became was So we took a Edge first approach, you know, really good friends with some of the leadership over at CloudFlare and, you know, leveraged the CloudFlare Enterprise platform coming from a old competitor. I re, like, they were the ones that we were always chasing from website delivery. So, you know, there’s certain things like Origin timeouts and, and all these things that they had perfected over the years because they sort of started with websites in mind.

Ben Gabler (00:04:59):

So it was a no-brainer for me to partner with them. Uh, rolled out a, you know, mvp, uh, in just a couple of months at Rocket and, you know, kinda hit the ground running. Uh, just yesterday we announced a new private cloud platform that we’ve built to where we’re vendor agnostic. You, I’d say we’re probably one of the only managed WordPress hosting providers, not on Google Cloud. You know, one of the things I did from a product perspective when building this company was, you know, all these different companies, WP Engine, Flywheel, Google Cloud, Google Cloud, like, they’re all doing the same thing. And at the end of the day, I’m like, I, you know, I don’t wanna do the same thing. So we kind of took the edge and then took our own approach with bare metal. You know, we control all the resources on there, don’t limit things like PHP workers and, and all that other stuff because, you know, we have the ability to buy much larger hardware at a much more affordable rate. So, you know, our company falls into definitely that managed WordPress space. Uh, but it really comes with a lot of different tooling where, you know, customers don’t have to go out and buy these things. They don’t have to become, you know, get their PhD in CDN optimization and things like that.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:05:59):

Fantastic. Well, that, that’ll make a for good conversation here as we kind of compare and contrast, since y’all are in a little bit of a different space, I think people were hoping for like a UFC match, but I don’t think we’re gonna get into that

Patrick Gallagher  (00:06:10):


Ben Gabler (00:06:11):

No, not at all. Actually. It’s so, so to give the listener some, uh, you know, background, you know, Patrick made a comment in his group today. Like, we became friends very quickly off of the most bizarre introduction ever. Um, like literally somebody was trolling a live chat rep of ours to the point where I was like, yeah, like Patrick’s kind of edgy in these groups, but they wouldn’t do that. So I reached out to Patrick, I’m like, Hey man, we should talk. And we jumped on a call and I was like, wait a minute, did we just become best friends <laugh>? Um, so yeah, you know, like Rocket and GridPane, like we have hats with both our logos on there. And, you know, I think one of the things that really brought us together is we kind of share the same passion for the customer. And, you know, that’s kind of like how we’re always thinking with our companies in mind. So doing calls like this, Patrick and I, I know for a fact go walk away from this call without getting one single sign up from it. That’s not why we’re here. You know, I think it’s really to help educate, uh, people on what the different types of hosting are, what to look for in a provider, and learn from the mistakes that we’ve either tried to correct in our own companies or that we’ve made in the past.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:07:09):

Yeah, that’s perfect. That’s exactly what we’re here for. So, I, I guess the good place to start here is we need to lump these things together, right? Into some kind of categories. Uh, we could talk about a million different hosting providers, right? But let’s, we’ll try to group some things together. So, off, off of my list here, I came up with like shared hosting, managed hosting, cloud hosting, BPS hosting. Is this a good, uh, group of categories? Am I leaving something out here?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:07:35):

I’d say you’ve got it fairly well covered. The, the one thing I will say that I think a lot of people get confused on, um, is the phrase cloud. Um, that means very, very different things to, to different people. And so the simplest version, in my opinion, um, when people are talking about cloud is, um, it’s just somebody’s server somewhere. You know, like it’s, it’s, it’s the sexy buzz phrase that just gets thrown around. And a lot of people think, oh, I’m hosted in the cloud, and so therefore it can’t go down. Um, and at the end of the day, like one person’s cloud is literally one person’s server in one person’s data center. And if that data center goes down, your gonna go down, right? You know, and so, um, but certainly, yeah, I mean, there’s, there’s shared, which a lot of people start at, you know, and then they

Kyle Van Deusen (00:08:20):

Work. Why don’t we start there at, at shared hosting? So obviously this is our most people’s introduction to hosting, right? They get some kind of offer that’s like, sign up for $3 and we’ll host your website for the year unlimited everything, and emails and all that. And that’s, I mean, I still got a host skater account that I came into like that, right? So obviously those are some of the biggest players in the market, right? As far as how many customers they have, and probably how much money they’re making. So there’s gotta be a space somewhere in here for them. And Ben, since I know you, you worked for some of these, what would you say is like, what are, what is the shared hosting good for?

Ben Gabler (00:08:55):

So fir the first thing I’d like to kind of put out there is shared hosting is a very loaded term, right? So like, kind of like Patrick, just to, you know, talked about cloud, cloud is shared, right? So the v p s that you spin up on Vulture is shared. The containers that kinsa are running are shared, right? And they’re actually shared two levels deep. So not only is the container running on a host node that’s shared with other containers, but that host node that’s running what’s running the containers is shared at other Google Cloud customers, right? Like, that’s how their platform works. So, shared hosting, you know, I I would say it’s, you know, it’s almost more of a, a commoditized version of hosting that is super, you know, entry level greenfield. You know, maybe it’s just a, something you need to kick the tires on a website or you’re just brand new to, to getting started on, on building maybe your first WordPress website.

Ben Gabler (00:09:45):

So, you know, I I, I don’t think there’s anything, uh, wrong with shared hosting. I, I think, you know, for the longest time, you know, what’s, what’s happened in the market is like when I was at GoDaddy and we needed to become a relevant, you know, hosting company, I was excited. Cause I’m like, this is the best thing in my career. I can move the needle in a billion dollar company. Like, how many times can you say that? And it’s because ho GoDaddy sucked at hosting, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and we needed cPanel. And back in 2013, cPanel was the product, right? So a lot of these companies were selling a SSO in the cPanel if, if you were lucky, otherwise it’s like, here’s your cPanel login. Like good luck. You have like 16 different control panel logs. And it was just a nightmare <laugh>, but that’s what the world was used to, right?

Ben Gabler (00:10:27):

That’s, that’s what it was. Then you had managed hostings starting to come out with your Pagely and WP Engines of the world, and you know, GoDaddy getting in there. Um, but really what the shared hosting is, what you’re seeing now is cPanel is no longer the product, right? Like, especially WordPress customers are looking for a solution. Doesn’t matter if it’s cPanel, cyber panel grid, paints Panel Rockets panel, they need a WordPress website online. And, you know, I think when you look at the host skaters of the world and even GoDaddy shared hosting, I, I do think it serves a very good purpose in the market to help build the market at an entry point. But what ends up happening is there’s so many constraints, whether it’s I Nodes or CPU or RAM or whatever it is, that they really limit these sites to people end up becoming frustrated and willing to graduate to a, a, a $30 plan, because by the way, their renewal cost after the first two, three years is going to be more than that anyways.

Ben Gabler (00:11:27):

Right? Right. Yeah. So, yeah. You know, what I personally hope to see as somebody who’s been around for, in that space for so long is, you know, I really hope to see this, this innovative approach to building solutions on that mar on that space, and less of the like, bait and switch. Like, oh yeah, it’s $3 a month and then all of a sudden it’s 15. It’s just, it, it just, it’s kind of like a sleazy tactic, right? And you’re seeing a lot, lot of people at, even in the admin bar or the WordPress hosting group, you know, I don’t understand, like, you know, I don’t know how many names we wanna throw out there, but blank company just sent me an invoice for like $700, and when I signed up, it was 150 wtf, right? Yeah. And that’s, that’s a huge part of it. So, you know, does it serve a purpose? Yes. I, I hope to see some better ethics and, and things go into it as time goes on, but, uh, I think you’re also gonna see the gap get a little bit bridged between even a self-managed solution and even a managed solution.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:12:23):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, one thing I think is worth pointing out in, in the context of, uh, of Shared and like the big box hosts is, um, people see this incredibly low price point. Um, but to bent to the point that Ben’s making, like when you’re GoDaddy or when you’re eig or when you’re one of these mega players, the name of the game is Density. It’s how many asses can we get in these seats? And so a lot of the problems that you see, especially as you’re scaling, you’re, you’re getting more traffic, you’re getting more concurrent users on your platform. When you hear this noisy neighbor problem, it’s because there’s 3000 other, um, people on the box. Okay? And so it’s perfectly fine. A lot of people can start at Host Gator and they could be there forever. Um, generally the reason that that works is because most sites don’t get any traffic.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:13:11):

Hmm. So it doesn’t matter that you don’t have any resources, you know? Um, but what a lot of people start to see is that it’s like, yeah, I’m only paying $5 a month, I’m only paying $10 a month. But it’s like, yeah, you’re getting 25 cents worth of resources, you know, and so you’re at, and then you’re end up, you end up paying a lot to ultimately, um, solve the problems of your, your went down, you know? And it’s like, so shared hosting is really, really, really cheap until it isn’t, you know, you don’t even need the renewal to kick in, the kick in the, you know, to ultimately discover that it’s really expensive.

Ben Gabler (00:13:43):

Yeah. And, and like I said, our email call, all my NDAs are expired, right? So it’s fair game <laugh>. Um, but you know, I I, I can, I could totally vouch for exactly what Patrick’s saying, and, and this was even a problem I tried to solve at Host nine, and let’s think about reseller hosting. I don’t even know if we mentioned that category, but that, that back in the two, you know, earlier, you know, 10 years ago that was a huge market, and that’s what Host Nine really blocked, you know, like did, did its best in. And the problem was we would sell back in the day at host skater, traditional reseller hosting, and I think we would put like 80 resellers on a single dual Zion server way back in the day, right? They’re great servers for their time, but 80 resellers. So the problem is, if all 80 of them are successful and have a booming business, they’re, they’re, they’re going to max out, you know, vertically on this single server.

Ben Gabler (00:14:32):

So a, we built at Host Nine was a way for them to spread their, like they would create a site US East, but it might be on like server five, and they might have one on server one, but that was kind of the, this problem that you saw where it was just bin packing based on a, a number. So like, even a, a GoDaddy with the shared hosting, I, I want to say it was like, like 800 accounts to a server, which actually isn’t that bad. Um, I remember certain industry people being like, you know, you could go to like 1500. I’m like, Nope, not worth it. Our margins are so good. Like, we don’t need to. Yeah. And even 800 is still a lot, but the problem with that was, uh, you know, something that, that like we’ve solved, and I know Patrick has as well, and it’s not, there is no special number, right?

Ben Gabler (00:15:10):

And we could ask this all, how many websites are on one server? I don’t know. Could be a hundred, could be 300, could be 50. It just depends, right? Because we, we balance based on consumption. Um, so that’s, you know, that’s another thing to think about, too, is, you know, so maybe you signed up a HostGator eight years ago, you’re probably still on a Celeron or something, right? Like, if it’s not broke, why fix it? Probably I’m like, I don’t know, CentOS 4 or something like that. <Laugh> You know, like, and it’s just left alone mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Ben Gabler (00:15:36):

So, you know, you’re kind of missing out on the evolution of like, Patrick’s testing these crazy AMD processors right now. Why? Why not? Like, let’s keep pushing the needle and get some more performance and more bang for the buck. Because that’s just, let’s follow that evolution of hardware, right? So it’s definitely interesting to think about that sort of ‘bin packing’ as we like to call it in the industry.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:15:56):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Sure. And I, you know, like we kind of talked about, that’s the entry point for a lot of people because of the price tag, right? It just makes it easier to get in there and get a website up and going. Now, I would imagine most of the people watching this are running an agency and taking things a little bit more serious, and probably have graduated from that a little bit. Um, I know one of the questions that we got over and over again inside of, uh, the registration for this event was kind of managed versus non-managed hosting. So, um, Patrick, would you have a good, uh, summary of what, what those, what the difference is between those two?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:16:29):

Yeah, so, so the, the, the hyper short version of what I believe, and I’m, I’m fairly certain Ben would agree with this, and, um, anybody that’s been around long enough, um, would, would probably say the same. So, so I think there’s five main pillars that exist within managed hosting. Um, and that’s staging, updates, backups, security, and performance. Okay?

Ben Gabler (00:16:49):

And so these are the key things that, you know, Ben mentioned Pagely. Pagely’s the OG of this space. They’re the very first ones that said, okay, let’s not have soft calculus installed. Let’s not have 700 different scripts and different packages available inside of our hosting platform. Let’s just do WordPress really, really, really well. And so, I, I think when, when you’re looking at managed, you know, when you’re looking at the traditional, the Flywheels, the Kinstas, the WPEngines of the world, um, those are the key things.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:17:16):

You know, you’ve got a, you’ve got stadium environments, um, generally they’re gonna be up updating your plugins and themes and certainly core, they’re gonna be handling that for you. They’re gonna be handling backups for you. Um, they’re gonna be doing things at the server level and kind of hopefully the upstreams, um, CDN level with things like CloudFlare Enterprise. And then they’re gonna be handling security as well. So if, if your site gets hacked, it’s pretty much universal that, that your managed host is going to to solve that for you.

Ben Gabler (00:17:42):

Um, and then unmanaged is, is sort of just none of those things. <Laugh> You know? Um, and so you can go direct to DigitalOcean and spin up a droplet there, um, with their like app, you know, their, their, uh, WordPress deployment. Um, and, and it’ll work. But at the end of the day, if, if you get hacked, that’s on you. If you need, you know, plugins, you need to install, or, or excuse me, backups, you need to install a plugin that will handle those backups for you.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:18:09):

And so, um, unmanaged tends to be, um, a good solution if you wanna learn a bunch of shit. You know? Like if you wanna go way down the rabbit hole and educate yourself, then you can, you can run some of these sort of unmanaged solutions like a cyber panel, um, or RunCloud or, or EasyEngine, something like that. Um, for a lot of agencies, they end up going with a, you know, a high quality host, like, like Rocket, um, because they don’t wanna think about these things. You know? They, they just wanna know that at the end of the day, they can pick up the phone or they can jump on, you know, jump on chat, uh, and get support. You know?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:18:42):

And so you generally, with managed hosting, one of the key things that, that a lot of people think of, um, is that they have really good support. Uh, I, I would argue, uh, the reason that my company exists is because the support at a certain massive host, um, that we’ve already mentioned, um, wasn’t nearly as good as, as what I needed them to be. Um, and so, yeah, I mean, support tends to be better in these environments. Um, and obviously any amount of support is better than zero, which is what you have in the, in the unmanaged world.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:19:14):

For, for the record, I’m [taking any] hosting company’s money. So you can name whoever you want, it’s not gonna bother

Patrick Gallagher  (00:19:19):

Me. Okay? It was, it was WPEngine, it was the second time I canceled the WPEngine. I probably should give them some equity because my company literally, literally wouldn’t exist if their support people weren’t literally like a 30 a a Google search that I did 30 minutes prior to hitting them up. Like, oh, well, I’ve never seen that either. Why don’t you try this thing that I just searched on Google for? So anyway,

Ben Gabler (00:19:42):

And what what’s interesting too is I think, I think there’s even another layer in there, because some, some people might look at GridPane is an example and say, oh, is that unmanaged?

Ben Gabler (00:19:50):

But it’s not, right? So like you have this hybrid of you’re adding GridPane in the middle of your Vultr server that would normally be a nightmare for somebody to manage. And the amount of tooling that Patrick and team have created over the years is it’s, which he’ll tell you, it’s a blessing and a curse. Like they just have so much tooling that they’ve been able to make available to their customers.

Ben Gabler (00:20:11):

And, you know, uh, I, I think when you layer in the support, you know, like a lot of people even ask us, it’s like in the very beginning, yes, our USP of speed and security was so, you know, it was great. Got us some initial quick wins. But you know, today it’s the support. Like if you look at our Trustpilot [reviews], yeah, it’s speed this, but it’s support. And that’s something that GridPane, like as a peer of ours, like they’re the in the same boat, right?

Ben Gabler (00:20:31):

Like, that’s the value you’re getting by being able to have this hybrid approach of, yes, I want my own VPS VM, you know, compute that, whatever you wanna call it, an X provider. But I want a partner to help me because Google support, it’s like 20,000 a month, month maybe. And I think you get to submit a ticket that’ll get responded to in like a month, right? So aws, same thing, right? <laugh>. Yeah. If that, um, so that’s the thing. Like you, you end up buying, you, you’re getting really like server admins in a box. You’re getting tooling in a box, and you’re getting, you know, all of these things that come along with it.

Ben Gabler (00:21:02):

And that’s really where you just have these, these two, you know, like, like this kind of, uh, you know, like a layer added on to that, you know, taking this unmanaged hosting and making it managed service, sort of, you know, it, it’s pretty, it’s, it’s great. It’s, it’s definitely much needed, especially with the, uh, recent acquisition that one cloud provider did. Um, but yeah, no, I, I, I think it’s something worth, worth calling out because it’s not just an unmanaged thing. Like you’re actually getting like, I don’t know, probably at least a million dollars worth of tooling. I mean, I don’t know, <laugh>, like, it’s definitely.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:21:39):

It’s more than that. It’s more than that. <Laugh>. Um, so one thing I wanna throw out there, which, which is not gonna be, um, popular, but I think it’s, I think it’s useful. Um, so, so I’ve thought a lot about what is, what is all hosting? What’s the, what’s the uniform thing that’s true about all hosting? And ultimately it’s, it’s three things, but I’ve changed my mind about what the third thing is.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:22:05):

Um, so it’s hardware, obviously. There’s servers somewhere. The servers come from AWS. The servers come from OVH. They come from PhoenixNap. They come from Vultr. They come from DigitalOcean. You got hardware, okay?

Ben Gabler (00:22:16):

Then there’s the software. It’s the, it’s the stack. Okay? When you hear people talking about ‘the stack,’ um, this is generally a LAMP stack where a LAMP stack all that is, is Linux. The, that’s the operating system running underneath all of it. Then you have your web server itself, which is either nginx or Apache, or OLS — which is basically just Apache only it doesn’t suck. Um, MySQL and PHP. Okay? And so that software is generally open source. There’s a lot of overlap. Like if you look really deep at Ben’s stack versus our stack, there’s a, there’s an enormous amount of overlap. You know?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:22:48):

Um, and then the third thing is support. Okay? Like, and, and that’s, that’s pretty much all hosting everywhere. And the more that you pay for your hosting, you generally have higher quality hardware, you have higher quality software, and you have higher quality support. But something that’s dawned on me recently is it does not matter how great Ben’s support is, or my support is, or Pagely’s support is, if the customer is not enrolled in the journey, I guess, then it does not matter how good our support’s gonna be.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:23:19):

Okay? And so the key distinction there, and, and I’m sure Ben can attest to this, is the vast majority of the tickets that you submit to us, it’s not us. It’s not the hardware, it’s not the software, it’s not our stack. It’s not something that we’re doing wrong. It’s your code base, okay?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:23:37):

Like conservatively, 90, 95% of the problems that we see submitted, it’s, you’re running BuddyBoss and LearnDash and [intelligible] and five other things on too small of a server, and you’ve got a custom plugin in there and a whole bunch of, you know, database corruption, all kinds of just. And it’s like, Hey, everything’s on fire. Fix it. You know?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:23:56):

And it’s like, if you are not actually enrolled in the fact that your host is there to help you, then it won’t matter what Ben’s team says. Because you’ll go, well, no, that’s not it. It’s something, it’s something else. You know? And, and, and the distrust that exists in the, in our ecosystem, it’s very real. And it’s, and it’s, and it’s justified. You know, because a lot of people have been told by their host, basically the solution to every single problem is upgrade.

Ben Gabler (00:24:22):


Patrick Gallagher  (00:24:23):

Just go, yeah, go to the next plan. You know, like if you’re hosted a WPEngine and stuff’s not working, right, it’s, it magically gets solved if you just give them another $400 a month, you know? And so there’s this disconnect and this distrust.

Ben Gabler (00:24:35):

So $4000, 4,000,

Patrick Gallagher  (00:24:36):

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so, and so, again, like you, you wanna find a partner, you know, as Ben said, where, when, when GridPane tells you that you need a bigger box, we literally have no financial incentives to tell you that. You know, like we, it’s, you have, you own that relationship direct with DigitalOcean, or you own that relationship direct with OVH. So why the hell would I tell you to get a bigger box at OVH?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:24:58):

It’s because I can point to the logs and say, look, <laugh>, you’re running, you’ve got resource exhaustion. Exactly. You’re running outta resources. Like you need more horsepower, you know? And so when you’re a GoDaddy, they won’t tell you that because they don’t want you to actually see the code. Cause Yeah. Or, or, right. Like, they’re, they’re not, they’re not a DevOps person. They’re not a systems engineer.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:25:17):

So I don’t think that’s. I don’t think that’s too unrelatable for us when, what we deal with with clients, right? Because our, our clients come to us and say, Hey, none of this is working. And it’s like, well, ’cause you went in and screwed up all these things, right? 90% of my tickets are also user error as well. So I try to keep that in mind when I hit up, uh, support, you know?

Ben Gabler (00:25:37):

Well, and the other thing that I think people, you know, the best thing about WordPress, let me rephrase it so I don’t upset anybody. One of the best things about WordPress is the millions of plugins out there in the world. One of the worst things about WordPress is the millions of plugins out there in the world. So like, we had a ticket this morning, like, somebody’s like, oh, my site, you know, uh, when I’m trying to save posts randomly, I’ll get like a 502, whatever.

Ben Gabler (00:26:00):

They have a 130 plugins installed, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I’m like, you’re on a server with 32 Core, 120 gigs Ram an n VM E store that’s attached. We’re not throttling you. The server’s running at 5%. Was there, there is, it is not a hardware problem. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it is a, a problem with your specific install WordPress. And by the way, if you were on HostGator or GoDaddy or anything, you’d be suspended, right? Yeah. And your site would just not work, period. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Ben Gabler (00:26:28):

So, you know, then you get, you know, somebody installed a plugin the other day and literally made, I, I wanna say a hundred copies of their tables with different prefixes into like a 20 gig database. Uh, and it like ended up corrupting some of the tables on there. And we’re just like, we can help you, but it’s, we’re restoring a backup and fixing, you know, getting rid of your corrupt tables. Like your plugin literally just like smoked your website. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, And they’re like, oh, interesting.

Ben Gabler (00:26:56):

But it’s like those things like Patrick, like hit the nail on the head, like, we are here to help you with that solution and give you that feedback and point to exactly what it was, and at least have the understanding of how to resolve it. And it may not be pretty, but you know, at least we can resolve it. Like, you’re not completely hosed, but this iteration of your site is. But yeah, I mean, I would say the culprit is 90% of the time, like actual way people use WordPress.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:27:19):

Yeah. So, uh, another one, and I want to get, I have a bunch of questions for us to get to. Yeah. So I might have to get to a lightning round soon. But another one I know that comes up in the, in the group all the time, I think a, a large amount of people that are in The Admin Bar use Cloudways. So, uh, sure. Where does Cloudways fit in this category thing, uh, that we’ve kind of constructed here? Uh, I guess, Ben, you can kick us off on that.

Ben Gabler (00:27:42):

Sure. So I, I’m actually not a huge fan of Cloudways <laugh>. Um, they literally ripped copy off of our website for CloudFlare Enterprise. We know this because we have, I guess, relationships with some of the employees. And it was said that Rocket was a huge discussion internally, and that’s where their CloudFlare Enterprise stuff came from. I also think they undercut the market, like without any knowledge of what they’re doing with their bandwidth pricing and, and, and just really building a solution they didn’t understand. So personally, not a huge fan. Um, I also, you know, think, you know, the support is not what, like according to our customers, you know, when we see the migrations, the support is just not there. Uh, whether it’s a long wait time or just the inability to get actual, like super technical support. Now, granted, that’s not to say you may, you may be able to have an interaction with X, Y, Z employee here or there in chat, you might get some help.

Ben Gabler (00:28:36):

But from what the general consensus that we’ve heard is, uh, you know, the support is not. And, and the same with WPEngine, you know, like agencies that are, that are flocking to us and Patrick are like, I don’t wanna be number 41 in line. Like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, literally, we’ve tried to help people migrate their stuff and we’ve been in chat trying to help them on that side of the fence. And it’s like, it’s, it’s 30 minute wait times. And you know, like for Rocket, people are like, okay, cool. Like, how does Rocket not do that one day? Like when you grow? And, and the answer is like, we don’t do any marketing, right? And when I had my team onsite the first one of this year, it was a team building event. We, you know, I’m like, I want you to build a marketing plan, sales plan this, then we’re gonna put it on a shelf.

Ben Gabler (00:29:17):

And they’re like, wait, what? And I’m like, the reason is we’re growing at a great rate. We’re handling our support. We’re not overwhelmed, and we’re gonna keep that up. I’m not on a mission to be some billionaire like Elon or anybody. I don’t care about that.

Ben Gabler (00:29:28):

I care about that CSAT score staying green. And I think that’s where a lot of these companies just lost sight. And, and one of the benefits of doing this for 20 years is, you know, HostGator was a hundred million dollar a year run rate because of support. That’s it. It Mm. All we sold was cPanel hosting. There was nothing special. Yes. The servers were configured by one of the smartest guys in the world, you know? Yes, there was a great tech team there, but it was cPanel with amazing support. And, you know, I think for us, like our, you know, green, yellow, red is really about is our support, like, are we handling it?

Ben Gabler (00:29:59):

Are we overloaded? You know, this that? And in a day we do the volume as a company that one rep hosting or will do in, in a shift, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, I, I think when, you know, you look at Cloudways and all these companies that, you know, a) nobody knows what’s gonna happen with this DigitalOcean acquisition for sure. I already know, like some of the leadership has moved to different areas, you know? Um, but you know, they’re, they’re focusing on all of these different things. You don’t really see a whole lot of specific WordPress focus anymore. Um, so, you know, personally,

Ben Gabler (00:30:29):

I just think, I think Cloudways fits into, uh, you know, I, I think years ago they might have been closer to what GridPane’s doing from a tooling and support approach. I think they’ve kind of lost their ways, like other companies in our space on the support and even some of the tooling stuff and just falling behind and getting very, you know, uh, comfortable. Um, so I think, you know, I think I, I think they’re more leaning towards that lower end of the unmanaged versus a little bit of management on top. Whereas you have Patrick’s team that just goes hard in the paint and like does whatever it takes.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:31:02):

Yeah. So my, my, I don’t have a great, uh, opinion of Cloudways either. To, to, to be fair to them, though, I think that value for money, um, I, I would certainly, I would certainly steer people in that direction, um, over all kinds of, of of big name shared players, you know, like for similar price points. Um, my biggest problem, so it’s funny it, you mentioned they ripped off your copy. Like we have a feature, and we’ve had it for, uh, a number of years called UpdateSafely™. They have something creatively enough called Safe Updates, um, which is kind of the same thing, only really slow and, and not as good. But, um, but the, the biggest problem that I have with them is that they, they are thought of as a managed player. And I just don’t think that they belong in that conversation.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:31:48):

They do not belong in the same sentence as Pagely, Rocket, WPEngine, Kinsta, because they, they just are not paying enough for, for their support. The, the dollars just aren’t there to support having a really high quality, you know, DevOps team, basically, you know? And so they’re thought of is managed, and it’s like they have basically a sexy UI that, that, again, it’s, there’s software that talks to hardware that they don’t own. It’s AWP, it’s gcp, it’s DigitalOcean, it’s Vultr, it’s LinNode, it’s all the same, you know, providers that we connect to. Um, and then they have this support.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:32:23):

And, um, and the thing that you see is that the reason that some people will say, oh, the support that I got at Cloudways was amazing. And then you’ll have other people that’ll say, no, the support that I got at Cloudways was shit is — generally speaking — if you have a simple problem and it’s a read-the-manual problem, they can help you get unstuck with that fairly quickly. You know? And they do, they generally have, I would say, faster support. Not necessarily great support, but if you have a serious DevOps problem, there’s nobody behind the wheel that’s, that’s a DevOps stud waiting, you know, waiting, you know, to handle your problem. Even if, like, I’ve talked to people that have like the $500 month extra stuff, it’s like there’s no hot systems engineers just waiting to, to solve a high concurrency problem, you know? And so, you know, that that’s my,

Ben Gabler (00:33:08):

Let, let’s let, let’s end it this way, right? Uh, two, you know. Hats off to them for selling their company over 300 something million dollars. You know, Hey, at the end of the day, it’s not a bad company? No, no, I don’t think it’s a bad company at all. I th I think, uh, I, you know, and again, I, I know like we’re very passionately opinionated based on, you know, I, I think a lot of the customer frustration bleeds through to Patrick and I because we rescue people like all the time. But at the same time, yeah, it’s, it’s a good company. They’re, they’re not a bad company. They’re not robbing people, they’re not cheating people. It’s a good company, right? And they had a phenomenal exit, and they, they created something that, that was unique in the space at the time. And, and, you know, I think they did a good job with that.

Ben Gabler (00:33:47):

But again, I think, you know, I think the problems that Patrick’s company and, and, and our companies are solving is we’re innovating, right? Like, we’re building net new. Like Patrick’s got this badass client portal they started building because the feedback was, man, like, there’s so much to do in here, but it’s kind of hard to use. So what do they do? They’re, they’re building a badass portal that, that, that can do like a Swiss Army knife. Like, oh, you use it, your customers use it, all this cool stuff. And they’re always like, building new stuff. We’re always building new stuff. We’re not looking like, okay, cool, what did GridPane do? We should copy that, right? Like, we’re both kind of like, just, you know, like, just innovating and trying to build a solution and something like value for these customers. And I think, I think that’s kind of where Cloudways did that years ago. And it’s just not something you necessarily see on the forefront today.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:34:30):

All right, let me, let me try this on. Uh, you know, part of my goal here today is to help people figure out like, what questions should they be asking themselves? What things should they be looking for in a host? So let, let me, I, I didn’t quite plan this, but I’m gonna see if we could do this through a little bit of an exercise. Okay. So, sure. Uh, I, I have very few good things to say about Cloudways. I’m also a Cloudways user and all of my client sites are on Cloudways. Uh, sure.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:34:55):

So I, I’m gonna tell you my situation, right? Where I’m at with my agency, what I’m doing, uh, what I’m paying for this and what I’m getting for it. And I would love to hear y’all, uh, consult me on what I should do differently, right? Like if you’re we’re just friends and you’re trying to help me out, right? Uh, and I think maybe this exercise will help other people as, even if they’re not in the same situation as I am. So I have about six, I went and looked this morning. I have 67 active installs on Cloudways. It’s spread across six different servers. Um, but I’m constantly,

Ben Gabler (00:35:25):

Good job.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:35:26):

I’m, I’m constantly spinning up new websites, deleting ones, I’m, I’m tinkering with stuff all the time. Uh, I got an InstaWP account just to tinker and I only kind of use it. Uh, most of those servers are Vultr, high frequency servers. I think when there’s one DigitalOcean one in there, um, I divided all out with the 67 installs I have, I’m paying $2.35 per month, per website, right? ‘Cause I’m paying like 157 bucks or something for my, my servers. They’re all fairly small. Now, in saying that, uh, what’s important to me is like uptime, uh, making sure my website doesn’t go down. I also want my websites to be fast, but I’m handling a lot of that by the stack I’m using within WordPress to build my websites, right? So for $2.35 cents a month, my websites are basically never down.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:36:12):

It’s very rare. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, and all of them that I’ve built with blocks are getting 95 plus on Page Speed insight scores they load in about a second. So no issues there. Now, I do have issues on support and things like that, uh, but I would love to know somebody in my situation like that, I, I look at GridPane and it’s like, okay, $500 just for me to sign up and then I gotta go buy servers, right? Or I look at Rocket and I say, oh, it’s like 30 bucks a month per site, and I’m paying, uh, you know, $2.35 cents is really hard for me to swallow. So what am I not seeing? What questions should I be asking and what am I missing out on? I want you to both take a stab at it, so whoever wants to jump in. I’d love to hear it.

Ben Gabler (00:36:51):

I think the first Sure. Yeah. I think the first thing is at Rocket, our entry level is $30 a site because of the economics of scale for human beings. So as an agency, your average cost per site’s gonna be $8-$10 a month. Right? And that include even if you only have 10, right? And that includes your CloudFlare, your WAF, all that stuff. But, you know, if we did $10 a month and we got a thousand signups, right? Like, we’re gonna be spread way too thin. So, you know, like everybody will always tell you, oh, we want agency customers, this, that, and the other. But for us, you know, we work with a vast, like just a wide variety of customers, whether it’s, you know, Sean Hannity’s website through an agency or, um, you know, food blogs like in the, in these different massive sites.

Ben Gabler (00:37:37):

Um, but everything you’re doing is done right. Right? Like, what if you would’ve said, I have one server with 67 websites, stop. Exactly. Because now, you put your eggs are in one basket. So it sounds like you have a really good setup, right? And this goes back to, you know, your pain point right now is with, is with cloud, uh, Cloudways support. So what I would recommend is, like when I was at WordCampUS, I met this guy Lucas, who had the most incredibly amazing story of how he came up with his company PressHero, what he did before it. Like, he was like, literally, it’s an awesome story. And I re like really knows this stuff and they have a great company. So it almost sounds like something like PressHero would be something that, that you would wanna layer in at, you know, a more affordable rate to get, like whether it’s a couple of hours a month or whatever their plan that might sue you best and, and your hostings.

Ben Gabler (00:38:25):

Okay? Like everything you’re telling me right now, you haven’t been down from what I understand, things are working, you know, your page feed’s great, which honestly you could host on a raspberry pie and your, your page feed could be fine. It it, it really is like the most, the biggest smoke. I don’t know, like that’s a whole nother, that would be like a five hour call us all up <laugh>. But literally it sounds like everything you’re doing is good for you, right? Yeah.

Ben Gabler (00:38:47):

So neither Patrick nor I would sit here and try to sell you outside of saying maybe you need a care plan, right? Like maybe they need to go to a company and, and build that gap because you are in a great spot getting the quality you need. Now, me personally, when I tested some of those high frequency, like they’re not bad, but where the biggest bottleneck is not CPU right?

Ben Gabler (00:39:08):

It’s disc. it always will be dis because of MySQL. And you know, the CPU’s great when you have like an import running or you’re processing a file or whatever it might be. Um, so like, I’ll give you a perfect example. Let’s say you have WPRocket on your site and it’s gonna build a, a ca a cashed HTML file to go on your disc. Well, pulling it out of MySQL as a disc read, and then your CPU is gonna execute the PHP worker to actually generate that HTML from what it got in the database. But it always, it like has that the disc bottleneck in there no matter what. So what I, my experience was very like very random different read and writes on the disks on even some of the latest generation of those. But again, it sounds like you’re not having any hosting issues. It’s more of a a care plan that would solve what you, you need. Right?

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:39:59):


Patrick Gallagher  (00:40:00):

Yeah, so I would, I would throw in, so, um, we do have actually plans that are less than 500 bucks. Like if you scroll down, you can get, you can still get our, our, uh, panel plan. So you could spend less. But I would also say if you’re, if you’re in that $2-$3 a site range, um, and, and things are up, they’re reliable, your workflow is working, I probably would not recommend, you know, changing off of that. The thing where, where Ben certainly, um, has solved for people and where we solve for people is if you had, and again, I like your ratio, if you’ve got 67 sites, you’ve got, you’ve got, you know, 10 sites per box. You’re not all in one data center. You’re not all in one server. Um, I’m good with that, that tendency. Um, but if you had 67 sites that were all WooCommerce sites mm-hmm. That did north of a million dollars a year or did north of a million dollars a month, um, that’s a scenario where, where we solve, um, for those kinds of problems.

Ben Gabler (00:41:00):

I would say even a hundred, I would even say a $100,000. I would say $50,000, right? I mean that’s, that’s pretty good volume to where those, those smaller, even high frequency, nodes. Like they, the simultaneous dynamic requests up. Like I don’t care how many lights feed fanboys are out there. Like, it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s economics to scale and just, you know, science, right? Like that’s where I think some of the tooling and deployments and even larger stuff that Patrick and and team do would really come in handy there. So again, I I think it, you know, like Patrick’s point, it’s like your, your setup is, is working. It’s good. Yeah.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:41:33):

Yeah. I think that’s, that’s probably where some of this, this it depends, comes in too, right? Because I, I was going through my mental Rolodex, I think there’s one WooCommerce site and they get maybe an order every two months. So.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:41:46):

Sure, Sure. There’s

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:41:47):

Just no going on on these things.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:41:49):

Yeah. Well, and so to that, to that point, one thing that I think is useful, I just saw something in a, in the BuddyBoss group, um, a couple days ago, and you can literally just go into the BuddyBoss group and throw a rock and you’ll hit this exact same question every single day. Um, it’s, you know, I’ve got this problem, I’ve got this problem, I’ve got this thing going on, I’ve got this, I’m, I’ve got neberium, I’ve got 18 different wrong things happening all at the exact same time. And my site’s really slow when I’m, when I’m logged in the backend. Um, but the hosting is fine. Uh, what do I do? And, and it’s like, wait, no, the hosting is not fine. And they’re like, no, it is ’cause like, when they go to the homepage, everything’s fine. I’m like, yeah, that just means that the caching is on.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:42:30):

That’s all that means. You know, that means that CloudFlare is doing its job. Congratulations. The fact that the backend is very, very sluggish is because you don’t have enough horsepower behind there and you’ve got a code-based problem, you know? And so ultimately what I said was, you need a DevOps person and or you need better hosting. And they’re like, no, no. Again, they’re like, no, the hostings fine. And I just explained that all out to, and it’s like, look, the reason that people pay for Pagely is because they have amazing DevOps engineers that have solved Nike-sized problems. Okay? And so if you’re Nike, you literally go, you know, you go, oh, I’m, we’re running this blog on WordPress and you delegate the job to whoever, you know, somebody three steps down from the CTO and you say, where are we hosting? And it’s pretty much, I’m either hosting it Pagely or I’m hosting it WordPress VIP, and that’s it.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:43:21):

Because I have to be able to tell myself a story, which is “we spared no expense.” Mm-hmm. Okay? And so depending upon the scenario there, there is only those two options. Because it doesn’t even matter if Ben can host it faster, I can host it faster. We’re not gonna charge you as much as WordPress VIP, and then you’re gonna look like shit to your boss, <laugh>, you know? And so it’s like, it’s the “nobody ever got fired for, for buying an IBM.” That’s why Pagely exists. You know, that’s why WordPress VIP exists is because you need to be able to say, “I I spared no expense,” you know?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:43:50):

But, but when you’re hosting workloads where you don’t have that budget, at the end of the day, you’re either going to hire a DevOps person that can solve your problem today, or you’re basically going to amortize that expense over the life of your account with Ben, you know, or your life, the life of your account with, with GridPane. You know? And so for a lot of, a lot of sites, you can literally get a Namecheap account and you can get CloudFlare free and you’ll probably be just fine. You know, because you just don’t have the concurrency, you don’t have the traffic, you don’t have the need to have a, a really, a really competent DevOps person that you can actually escalate your thing, too.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:44:24):

You know, I’m gonna clip that part of this interview out, I think. Because, uh, people get flamed pretty quickly if they’re using a cheap host, you know, on things. And I, I have a lot of local business websites that just don’t get a lot of traffic and they’re never gonna get a lot of traffic, you know?

Ben Gabler (00:44:38):

Well, I, I will say though, I think a lot of people get flamed for it because they’re asking a question about a problem. And the people that are trying to help them are like, duh, move off Namecheap, move off HostGator, duh. And uh, and, and it’s almost the same as you get into these nerd rage events about the web server, right? And it’s like, man, like at the end of the day, like, I will admit, like the biggest flaw is Apache because of its threading and how many requests it can handle versus nginx. Like, it’s insane. Like Apache will choke before you even get close to maxing out CPU or anything like that. But, but the reality is, you know, I, I think, I think that’s people’s. It’s like calling, um, it’s like calling Dell back in the day, right?

Ben Gabler (00:45:19):

You’re like, uh, did you reboot? You know, and that’s, that’s basically step number one of. Like, I give you another good example cPanel. I, I, I swear to you, had a script called “/Scripts fix everything.” And any time there was a problem, you ran that script in 2008 and fix the problem. I don’t know why, don’t know what it did <laugh>, but, but it was just one of those things. So I think what you see is a lot of people are like, oh, duh, move off the Siteground, move off, you know, uh, Namecheap. That’s your problem. You know, because the problem, they’re coming in with an issue like, oh, I don’t understand why I’m getting a 500 error. And it’s like the, the, uh, PTSD and beat dog syndrome of going through it for so many years with the commodity limited constrained accounts, people are just like, dude, step one, move. Right? And it’s like, leave, go on. It. It just, maybe it’s just a broken plugin, you know what I mean? Yeah,

Patrick Gallagher  (00:46:09):

Yeah, yeah.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:46:10):

All right. So we, we got a bunch of questions here that, uh, people registering for this event, uh, submitted. So I’d like to get through, I think there’s about 10 here. I’d like to try to get through. We got about 15 minutes left in this, so we’ll see what we can do here. I’ll, I’ll just, I’ll, I’ll leave the questions open. Whoever wants to jump in can answer. We’ll probably step on each other, but it’s okay. All right. So this, uh, this person was asking about WordPress multisite configurations. Uh, your thoughts on creating multi-site staging environment, and if anyone truly supports this or what is best suggested is best practice.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:46:41):

I’m gonna take this one. I’m gonna take this one, I’m gonna take this one.

Ben Gabler (00:46:44):

Go ahead. Please do.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:46:45):

Here’s the deal, here’s the deal. We’ve lost customers from, from GridPane that have moved to, um, RunCloud, for example, because they said, well, RunCloud has staging for multisite. And I’m like, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a bug, not a feature. Okay?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:47:05):

So first of all, I have all kinds of problems with multisite. Um, there’s very specific applications for it. Almost no one that’s using multisite falls under those specific applications. Okay? If you have one website for one company that’s in nine different regions, at particularly nine different languages, multisite all day long. If you have one lemonade stand website that you wanna sell to 500 customers, don’t do that inside a multsite. Okay? You can do that inside a multi-site using something like WP Ultimo as a proof of concept, but eventually you need to move off of that.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:47:41):

Because the only thing less elegant than one WordPress website is many, many, many WordPress websites all smashed together, okay?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:47:49):

And then when you do something like a staging push, well, okay, are we gonna change all those map domains or not? You know? And there’s all kinds of things that people don’t think through. And then what you end up having is, and I literally had this, there was a guy that he was, um, in Egypt, he was looking to raise money. He had a 4,000 site, he had a 4,000 site network on multi-site on RunCloud. He went to do a staging push and he corrupted his database. And then he discovered that his backups hadn’t been working for the last 60 days. And he came to me and I said, you can throw thousands of dollars at me. I’m not touching that website with a 10 foot pole. Okay? Because he didn’t know how many of the, of the 4,000 sites were corrupted. Okay?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:48:33):

And so I think that multisite site staging is something that you can do if you know what you’re doing, but almost none of the people who are doing it do. So don’t. I guess that’s, that’s my answer.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:48:47):

Good Answer.

Ben Gabler (00:48:48):

Agreed. That the two use cases, just to throw in there, I agree, Patrick nailing the head, you know, the different languages. Totally makes sense. The other way that I have seen it actually done it in a really good way, also use the sub folder is like a lot of theme developers will use multisite to have a different thing for each theme. Sure, sure. Makes sense. Right? But other than that, you all, you don’t need staging, right? Like personally, I, I just think multisite should never exist. But that’s, yeah, that’s it.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:49:14):

We can go on that for an hour. So.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:49:17):

All right. Uh, using your Magic 8 ball, what do you see as the next big thing in hosting for the next five years?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:49:25):

The thing that Ben just did, and the thing that we’re gonna announce before the end of the month.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:49:30):

All right. What, what have Ben just do?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:49:33):

Ben, you wanna talk about?

Ben Gabler (00:49:34):

So we just launched. Yeah. Yeah. So, so we just launched our private cloud platform. So basically, kinda like I mentioned earlier, we’ve been leveraging our own metal, um, that, you know, we don’t own the metal, but we lease it. Here’s what you’re getting, here’s how you manage it. And we’ve done that since day one. And, you know, we ran into some, some limitations. Like, cool, we were using SSDs at first cuz they’re better than SATA drives. Bam. NVMe is the new hotness and it’s way better. And it is.

Ben Gabler (00:50:00):

So we had these legacy servers, and it’s like we are trying to do, you know, raid mirroring to like kind of lift and shift and place with reboot, and it just wasn’t worth it. I’m like, man, you know, I’m like, what can really solve this as like a, we put a, uh, like a shim virtualization layer and, and made one, one VM per box. And it allows us to actually treat this hardware.

Ben Gabler (00:50:19):

Like, you know, it, it, it’s basically just a, a piece of hardware and it’s, we’re completely vendor agnostic. The VM, you could take an Intel, a VM running on an Intel machine and spin it up on an AMD. Now all of a sudden we can say, Hey Patrick, I’ve got this workload on Intel Gold. Let’s, let’s, let’s hot migrate this to one of your AMD boxes and we’ll compare last week versus next week, right? Or this week.

Ben Gabler (00:50:40):

And it just creates this huge, you know, flexibility in what we can do with our platform. It enables things like high availability if we want to mirror one VM from US East to US West, just in case it’s a very high, you know, traffic WooCommerce site. You know, a lot of things that it, that it paves away for. So, you know, I think what Patrick, you know, I I think what you’re gonna start to see is, again, the drift away from the traditional containers or, you know, uh, cPanel or all these things and just different solutions that are gonna come out.

Ben Gabler (00:51:10):

You know, one of the things that I’m really hoping for, and we have some great discussions going, is more partnerships. You know, I’d really love to see some of the plugins and, you know, all of these, you know, people in the community start to work with the hosting companies. Um, I would love to see it Automattic work a lot closer with the hosting companies.

Ben Gabler (00:51:25):

Like, I truly believe there should be a Hosting Day, you know, at WordCamp, not just a developer day. You know, like I, I think there should be that, right? Um, you know, I, and I think you’re just going to see a lot of the community come closer together and figure out how to continue to champion WordPress for, you know, managing half the internet. And I, and it’s one of those things like not one hosting company together can do it. Pat, you know, you have two hosting companies on this call. Like we, we constantly talk about whatever’s going on, whether it’s security thing, we see whatever it is to help each other cause it helps our customers, right? And I think you’re gonna start to see, and continue to see even more of these, you know, different plugins and, and and service providers out there in the ecosystem teaming up to continue to champion WordPress, you know, to, to where it’s at.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:52:08):

We’re, we’re at least seeing them get bought up by hosting companies.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:52:12):

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. All right. Uh, that’s gonna continue to happen. That’s gonna continue to happen. My Magic 8 Ball is big, huge hosting companies will buy everything. Liquid Web will continue to throw their PE money around. So.

 Kyle Van Deusen (00:52:25):

More fun. All right. Uh, I think this is a really good one here. Uh, in my current workflow, I create hosting accounts on behalf of my clients and have them pay the hosting company directly. I’m now considering offering hosting as part of my web pack web packages, but I’m not super technical and don’t want the stress of having to troubleshoot server issues if something goes wrong. Can you recommend a good host that provides decent support, but has a reasonable cost that I can make some profit on offering the service? So I think this is like tons of us. This is a, this is a majority of us right here.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:52:56):

Sure, sure.

Ben Gabler (00:52:57):

So I, I, I think for that one, the one thing to think about is, is, you know, and we’ve done a blog post on this in the past, but, um, agency care plans for the end user, right? So it’s like your customer should pay you a monthly fee, call it, call it 150 bucks a month, a hundred bucks a month, whatever it is to maintain their digital footprint. Whether that includes managing Google My Business, blah, blah, blah, website updates. Maybe they get 10 edits a month, whatever it might be. Um, you know, I think.

Ben Gabler (00:53:23):

I think at the end of the day, if you, you really want that, uh, effortless approach, you need to be willing to spend $8-$10 a month on average per website. Because in the grand scheme of things, if, if 10% of, of your, um, revenue from a customer is going towards that, I can sleep good at night and not worry about my customers sites getting hacked and their ads that I’m doing getting pulled down from Google.

Ben Gabler (00:53:46):

That’s, that’s not bad, right? That that’s a better margin than both Patrick and I have. Um, right. Like, like, you know, so it’s just one of those things, like I think people just, you know, and, and. And they are like, we see a lot of agencies that are totally okay with spending $8-$10, 15, whatever it might be, because they see the value in what they’re getting. So it, it’s not just like CloudFlare Enterprise is a buzzword. It’s not just Patrick’s tooling is buzzwords.

Ben Gabler (00:54:10):

It is really the solution of just deploy and build. That’s it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> launch WordPress and go build a site and make money and be, be be very under. And, and that’s like a lot of the AdTech stuff that we host these bloggers, they’re making thousands and thousands. So, so they’re hosting bills like, just keep me online, so let’s, let’s put food on my table. Keep me online. Right? Yeah. Um, in, in, in a fair way.

Ben Gabler (00:54:32):

And, and I think that’s, that’s really what it boils down to is, is y I think every agency should have the hosting that they provide without just saying, go sign up for Bluehost and getting a hundred dollars kickback. Like, that’s not worth it. I think agencies should do their own hosting by partnering with a company that makes it effortless and mindless for them to just say, boom, I’m gonna deploy. I’m, I’m gonna sign this deal for Acme Co, and I’m just gonna deploy it on X, Y, Z and just start building. And I know I’m not gonna get hacked and I, and I don’t need to worry about CDNs and all this other crap. Like, I’m good.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:55:03):

Yeah. So real quick on that point, um, to, you know, I think that to Ben’s point, I would not, if I was an agency, I would not sell hosting decoupled from Care plans. Okay.

Ben Gabler (00:55:14):

Like, I think your, uh, web owner’s manual, Kyle is one of the best things ever created. I think the only problem with it is probably people present it at the end, and they need to present it at the beginning as a requirement of, yeah, we don’t even take your account unless you’re going to be hosted with us. You know? And so I think every hosting plan is in fact a care plan. And if you’re charging a minimum of a hundred dollars, $150 a month, then you can host almost anywhere, um, and still have very, very strong margins, you know?

Ben Gabler (00:55:43):

And so, um, and one other thing I’ll throw in, and, and a lot of people get this wrong, you know, people will ping us in GridPane and they’ll be like, Hey, what if I don’t know anything about servers? And my answer is always the exact same thing. It’s great. Just don’t ever log into them.

Ben Gabler (00:55:58):

That’s, that’s all you have to do. Like, we built the thing literally, so you don’t have to do that. Like, people see our platform and they go like, oh, there’s 900 dials and there’s this nuclear reactor, and there’s all these settings. And it’s like, yeah, there is all of that, but if you want to just don’t touch any of that. It’s, it’s, it’s sane out of the box. And so, um, so yeah, it, that, that’s my thinking on that is just charge more. Don’t, don’t go cheap. And, um, and you can have very, very good margins as, as an agency reselling your own hosting.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:56:24):

Yeah, I know, I know a lot of people that I’ve talked to that just, they’re kind of like me where, uh, half the things y’all have said today, when it got into, like some nerds speak about, uh, uh, server stuff, I have no idea. I’m just nodding along, like, I’m like, I know what y’all are talking about. And I don’t, I know a lot of people in, in that have gone to places like Kinsta where they just said, you know what, yeah, it’s really expensive, but I’m charging more than that anyways, and I never have to think about it. And I, there’s something to be said for that, you know. There, that’s not a bad place for your agency to be in, you know?

Patrick Gallagher  (00:56:55):

Yeah. Yeah.

Kyle Van Deusen (00:56:57):

All right. So let’s see here. Um, I think we’ll go, we’ll go with this, uh, cPanel: yay or nay.

Ben Gabler (00:57:06):

Yay. And here’s why. It’s, it depend. Let me rephrase it, depending on your, your use case and needs, right? Uh, I gave it a yay because, uh, it’s been around for, you know, over 20 years and they have one of the strongest development teams in the world, and they build a control panel, right? Yeah. So they, they get a yay. Now, there, there’s several things. Um, you know, I think as a, as a company, you know, the lack of sort of in. Like cPanel is, it’s not the same product it was 10 years ago, but it’s, you know, they’ve, they’ve, they’ve spent a lot of time reworking, you know, with theming and, and this and that and, and paving the way for what they’re going to be able to do. So I do think, you know, uh, you know, refactoring a lot of the tech debt that they had over the years, I, I think cost them a little bit of the race.

Ben Gabler (00:57:59):

Um, but it, it did allow them to get a, a much better car for the race. Um, I, I work pretty closely with the Web Pros team. Uh, I’ve known them a very long time. I know they have very good intentions towards the WordPress in the community, and they want to try to find a way to, uh, provide a better solution for that. I know they’re working on it. Um, but from, you know.

Ben Gabler (00:58:19):

I think the Nay is cPanel as the product, right? Like you cPanel as an orchestration layer without reinventing the wheel, right? And, and I think it’s a yay because you, you can, you can build something really, really powerful on top of it. Um, it’s not perfect. It is pricey. Uh, but at the same time, that does play into my, you know, I, I don’t think there should be $3 hosting.

Ben Gabler (00:58:42):

I think, I think Site Five and HostGator and company shot the industry in the foot when they did $3 Unlimited hosting. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and, and, you know, so yeah, I mean, I, I think it depends on what you’re, you’re you’re needing. But like, quite honestly, I, I think it’s a yay just because of, of, you know, the, the, the, the focus on it, the, the, the money behind it. Uh, they’re profitable, they’re not going anywhere. Um, I think they definitely have some work to do when it comes to, uh, you know, how, you know, the PE firm really drives a lot of the spreadsheet pricing decisions. Um, but yeah, I mean, I think they, I will say Web Web Pros is a good company.

Patrick Gallagher  (00:59:21):

Uh, I’m more of a nay, but of course, I literally built, I, I, you know, I went the exact opposite direction, you know, like Ben and I built two similar companies in radically different ways, you know? And so there were very, very specific things that I wanted to be able to solve for and, and we have solved for them, you know? And so the nice thing is, is that I do definitely think at the end of the day, like in, in cPanel’s, defense and SiteGround’s defense in, in, in, um, in EIG’s defense, we see people all the time like, Hey, is anybody having trouble at Bluehost? And it’s like, yes, of course they are <laugh> because they’re hosting 5 million people. And if, if, if all of them only have one website and it’s like a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of 1% are down right now, that’s like 50,000 websites that are down right now.

Patrick Gallagher  (01:00:08):

And as we said, 95% of that problem is actually the code base and not cPanel and not the host, you know? And so I think that certainly, um, when you see cPanel done right, um, and you see value stacked on top of it the way that they do it at Rocket, then I think definitely it’s a yes. And it is very reliable and it’s very, very proven. Um, I don’t see them innovating nearly. I mean, I’ve seen them sort of sit still, uh, for the last 10 years, and it’s part of the reason that my company exists. So I should probably send them some equity as well.

 Kyle Van Deusen (01:00:39):

<laugh>, You’re just giving it out all over the place here.

Patrick Gallagher  (01:00:41):

Yeah. You want some Kyle? I’ll send, I’ll send some to you <laugh>. Sure. Yeah.

Kyle Van Deusen (01:00:45):

I just want that co-branded hat, you know, I’m a hat guy and I don’t have a hat, so <laugh>. All right. So, uh, we we’re running against time here, and I don’t, I don’t want to take up too much of y’all’s time. Uh, we had some good questions. I think the best one on here that I would like to ask, but it, it just takes up way too much time. I know this is a huge problem for agencies. Like, mine is like the, how do you predict how much hosting resources you’re gonna need? I know that’s a huge can of worms, and there’s probably a million, a million questions that go into that. But I would love to have another conversation maybe in the group about that one day I was, give us some kind of

Ben Gabler (01:01:16):

Ballpark. I was gonna say, I think what we should do is schedule another call in the next week or two and talk about that as a subject, because I think it’s a very important one. Yeah, that would be awesome.

Kyle Van Deusen (01:01:27):

All right. So I, I want to end this up by saying that, uh, you know, obviously there’s a million different ch uh, million different, uh, hosting companies you could choose. There’s only two that are here inside the Aden Bar with their founders. They’re CEOs here answering questions and not bombarding you to, uh, sign up or anything like that. So I want to give both of y’all a huge thanks for that. Uh, that’s really important for the health of our community to have like, people so knowledgeable that are willing to come on here and share. So I’d like to give both of you some time to just tell us like, what are the ideal customers for you? Who, who should be looking at you as a possible solution for ’em? And we’ll, we’ll start with Patrick.

Patrick Gallagher  (01:02:01):

Yeah, so, um, so certainly again, agencies that are managing dozens, hundreds, thousands of sites, um, those, those are the people that we have the biggest impact for. Um, the other thing that we’re seeing a lot lately is, um, is, you know, sort of to Ben’s point around partnerships, um, we’re seeing, you know, if you’re somebody who has a massive community, um, and you want something sort of specialized for your people, um, we literally built white label for exactly that reason. And so, um, some of the stuff that people are gonna see over the, the coming weeks and months is us partnering with those theme companies, those plugin companies, um, sort of doing what elementary has tried to do, but not really succeeded in doing. Um, and so yeah, larger scale, um, communities, uh, and, and larger scale agencies is really the, the perfect slam dunk for us. But also, if you have one website that just gets an enormous shitload of traffic, um, that’s something that we’ve solved for, uh, very well. Um, and so yeah, that’s, that’s who we’re looking for and that’s who we’re, that’s who we’re helping.

Kyle Van Deusen (01:03:05):

I know, I know. Anytime someone, I

Ben Gabler (01:03:07):

Think I would add

Kyle Van Deusen (01:03:08):

That, uh, hey, I’m gonna have tons of traffic and, uh, we’re gonna be on TV or whatever. I just immediately, Patrick, come help <laugh> <laugh>.

Ben Gabler (01:03:15):

I wanted to, I want to add something for GridPane, too. One of the things that I don’t think we’ve touched on that, that I actually see quite often when we get some inbound questions is there might be an agency that has a, like a, a need for Node or, or Ruby something, right? And that is something that GridPane makes totally possible as well. It’s like, yeah, 99.9% WordPress focus, however, you also have the ability to do some of these other things that, you know, you may have a different application that needs to run. So I wanna throw that in there for Patrick, too. ‘Cause I think that’s important to call out, especially in the admin bar cuz it’s not, there’s some pretty, you know, intelligent people in this group and, you know, I think — not that, not that it really plays into what software they’re using — but it’s a broad scale of business, not just mom and pop local business websites. And, you know, I think that’s really where you might have a different type of application that needs some scale and, and they can handle that, too.

Kyle Van Deusen (01:04:02):

Yeah. Maybe I should,

Patrick Gallagher  (01:04:04):

Yeah, you own the box.

Kyle Van Deusen (01:04:05):

I should suppose had y’all answer for each other. But, uh, Ben, Ben, why don’t, why don’t you, uh, tell us a little bit about who’s the, who are the right people to look at, uh,

Ben Gabler (01:04:15):

Sure. Uh, first we like really nice people that are, that, that are friendly to our staff. So that’s first and foremost. No, um, we do. But uh, yeah, I, I, my team loves me and I’m notorious for taking over the cranky chats and telling them like, we flat out just, well, and Patrick does saying like, we will not tolerate this. Like, you, you can cancel right now. <laugh>. Um, you know, for, for us, the ideal customer, uh, is really, you know, we’ve, we’ve been going, you know, more upmarket just naturally with some of the enterprise offerings that we’ve had with Relay and different things. So we’ll see a lot of, um, you know, whether it’s, uh, you know, big stores or, or communities or whatnot. Uh, the enterprise play has been working really well. Now with the private cloud, we can scale things up and down.

Ben Gabler (01:04:57):

Like we, we had a very, uh, an agency do a very big promotion for Shell, uh, Petroleum. Like, it, it was like the biggest thing I’ve ever seen. But luckily the website had like three plugins. It was super lightweight, but I had every request was hitting PHP. Um, but that was something we were able to just, you know, migrate them to a 96 core machine real time and they were good to go, like no issues there. Um, but then on the other sales, like we love working with AdTech, like food blogs and, and you know, different like things that work with AdThrive and Mediavine and companies like that.

Ben Gabler (01:05:28):

Um, but, but agencies have, have always been, you know, our, our bread and butter because, you know, we effectively explain Rocket as an extension to their team.

Ben Gabler (01:05:37):

So we’ll work with a lot of agencies that don’t, you know, like we’ve had agencies that have joined us and been able to not worry about DevOps or even to, you know, certain types of more advanced roles and they were able to reinvest in more design or more marketing. Um, so, you know, agencies at scale, you know what, you know, uh, will get a free Slack channel with us and our team’s available in there just as part of your workflow. Um, so that was another, you know, that’s another thing that goes a a really long way. Is, is really just, you don’t need to go through chat. You know, our average respond time is like 41 seconds.

Ben Gabler (01:06:05):

But for an agency it’s like, hey, our team’s, your team. Like if you need something done, whether it’s, uh, a bad update you guys did and you need a backup restored. Even though they can do it themselves, like, we’re here, like, what do you need us to do? Right? Because even things like we’re storing a back a backup could be intimidating, you know, if you’re not a very technical person, like you don’t wanna break things even more.

Ben Gabler (01:06:22):

Um, so yeah, you know, I mean I think we, we, we’ve done a really good job at not boiling the ocean, but at the same time, like maybe we’re starting to get it a little lukewarm <laugh>, but, uh, but yeah, uh, you know, that’s, that’s probably where, you know, I know we’re super excited to work with. Like, I’d rather have one customer with a hundred websites and a hundred because we will service them better and have a better relationship. Not that we can’t handle a hundred customers. We, we treat everybody the same. You know, even a $30 customer gets the same level of support that a $10,000 a month customer gets. So, um, but when it comes down to am I the right fit? You know, I think if you’re looking for a fully hands off solution that just works out of the box, we’re, we’re a good solution for that.

Kyle Van Deusen (01:07:02):

Perfect. Nailed it. And I know, uh, you, you there at Rocket, you have, uh, like a trial where people can sign up and try it out for the first month for like a dollar. Patrick, you guys introduced a, a free plan so people can get on there and check out GridPane too. So, uh, the barrier of entry is very low. If you wanna go check either these things out, uh, both Patrick and Ben are inside the group, so if you had more questions and wanna ping them, you’re welcome to do that. Uh, I’m sure they’ll be glad to answer it. And like Ben suggested, I think we ought to schedule another call here soon so we can dive into the really nerdy stuff. I’ll probably sit back and just let y’all two, get after it, but that’s, that’s totally fine. All right, fantastic.

Kyle Van Deusen (01:07:38):

Glad to have everybody on here. We had a nice little, uh, crowd. I’m sorry we weren’t able to get to more questions on here. Uh, we’ll, we’ll save them for the next time or, or like I said, ping them, ping them in the group. Uh, if you guys are checking out The Admin Bar for the first time, you can go to and find out about all the things we do. And I try to not spam this, but if you wanna hit “like” on this stream, that would be, uh, very helpful for me. So thank you very much Patrick and Ben, a huge pleasure. Thank you guys so much for joining me today and we will see everybody soon.

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