I was on a panel at Meet Magento India 2020 #MM20IN moderated by Brent Peterson of Wagento.
It was an honor to be part of a elite panel – Miguel Ignacio Balparda of Nexess / Liquid Web, Shehzad Karkhanawala of Webscale Networks, Arun of ServerGuy. The discussion was lively and well received.
While the time was too short to address all the questions, Brent was kind enough to circulate the questions ahead of time.
Here would be my responses if there was enough time!
- What are some of the latest trends you are seeing in the hosting world
Integrations into application – Magento Cloud as well as pwa vendors are giving hosting included packages.
Plugins or apps are going SaaS.
Underlying tech with Kubernetes is changing the hosting world.
Magento hosting has to look like SaaS to the merchant – with the flexibility.
- Hosting as we knew it five years ago has now become a commodity. There are some interesting approaches to hosting in the market today. In your opinion, what defines and differentiates a great hosting provider for e-commerce?
If you look at progression of economic value – commodities, goods, services, experience. A quick example being you could use ingredients to make a cake (commodities), you could buy a mix to bake a cake (goods), you could buy a cake from a cake shop (services) or you could have your birthday party organized of which cake is a part (experience). Hosting has reached the experience level with SaaS. We have to make that happen with Magento hosting.
- You all provide managed hosting services. What is different about managed as compared to regular hosting?
Managing is offering hosting at a higher level of abstraction.
Traditionally companies like Rackspace provided a server or a managed server and charged something like $100 per server as managed or support fee. In reality you paid for a system admin.
When you give a full application level support, you are abstracting away everything.
While many managed hosting services talk about 15 minute response time to tickets, we measure ourselves differently – we want no tickets. If a customer has to call and tell us their site is slow or god forbid down, we have lost.
A managed hosting provider sits on the merchant’s side between the developer and the hosting service.On one hand, we ensure the hosting bill is optimized.
On the other, we ensure we host a 12-factor app – keeping the developers honest about the quality of their delivery. We partner with many developers.
- What is the relationship between the customers and the hosting company in a managed service agreement?
I will give you an analogy – a few years ago I built a house in Bangalore. I hired an architect and a contractor. I made the contractor report to the architect and paid the architect an additional 6.5% as fee to manage the contractor who managed the workers and material.
We are like the architect in this example – On the side of the merchant, making things happen on the hosting.
- What’s the difference between public and private cloud?
everything and nothing!
Private cloud has power, uptime, connectivity and flexibility issues.
If the private data center addresses some of these issues, there is no difference from managed hosting perspective.
- All around the globe, there are big events like Cyber Monday and Black Friday. How do you help your customers prepare for this type of event? Auto-scaling
Autoscaling is an obvious, but there is more to the preparation.
Autoscaling has a latency in scaling.
We like to understand marketing strategy – if they are sending SMS – which generates a far higher peak than almost any other marketing activity – what time and volume – so instances can be launched We encourage staggering ofcourse but it is difficult to make marketing understand that. We would prep autoscale to have more instances.
Reduce as many moving parts as possible.
We ensure code freeze is well before the event.
Avoid : Product uploads, inventory sync if possible
Cache state – ensure all caches are pre-loaded / primed
- What are the biggest differences between a hosting environment for Magento 1 and Magento 2?
- core performance (or performance on a miss) is tough to get in M2.
- Rabbitmq – but we have not seen mature use of this technology as yet.
- Build & Release process.
- What’s your plan for the Magento 1 EOL in June?
We are ready to support the hosting. Security is a key concern in the longer run, but we have to live with that – react as and when we know what happens. We have merchants that have not changed their code for years. Yet on old M1, php 5.6, etc. which we will not support.
Others have invested a lot in M1 to move with feature parity. Features on the admin panel that their packaging staff depend on or rules to decide how to ship based on warehouses.
(During the panel discussion participants talked about hardened php. That applies to php 5.x which means the merchants are running obsolete versions for a while. I think they should at least upgrade to latest Magento and php 7.2 )
- Some merchants are just not ready to move to M2 due to cost and timeline pressures. Is there anything developers and their hosting provider partners can do to help clients continue to operate after June 2020?
Absolutely. The numbers are so large that I feel a community effort to continue, if it happens, will be much appreciated. I think the hosting community is ready to support – many of us yet support php 5.6 for example as merchants have not recognized the need to move or have unsupported plugins that have not upgraded.
- Security has become the most critical piece of an e-commerce merchant’s infrastructure strategy. Cyber-attacks are growing in number, intensity, and sophistication. What can a hosting provider do to protect storefronts from threats?The biggest threat is from 0-day threats and not patching ontime.
0-day threats are hitherto undocumented or unaddressed threat.In medicine, when a virus hits, there are 2 strategies – handling the virus directly coming up with vaccines, etc. The other is health related advice – such as wash your hands. Crucial things that sound simple, but are instrumental in preventing someone from being infected across multiple types of viruses.I call these fundamental truths. They address a class of problems.I was an engineer when first viruses came to infect 286 computers. My employer then decided to develop expertise in virus combat. We came up with a simple set of rules that prevented many forms of viruses then. How you booted mattered then for example. What you ran on your computer mattered. I wrote some code that my customer sold to Compaq and ended up protecting millions of computers.We try to make such fundamental truths in hosting. Some are taken into standards like cross site scripting. Brent – when you became a Magento Master a few years ago, you mentioned 777 permissions as a challenge. Magento came up with what they called 2 user hosting – a web server user and a command line user. Others we have developed.We try to take a class of attacks and eliminate them.Ofcourse when a known threat exists, we try to ensure that threat is addressed directly.
- What’s your take on the current state of Magento Cloud?
We have typically 3rd party opinion but from what limited 1st hand experience we have, we find that to be having many restrictions. Autoscale, tuning caches like adding more RAM to varnish, are difficult. But, Magento Cloud is there and will improve. Adobe got SaaS wrong the first time, but persevered and fixed it to be one of the most profitable companies of our time.
I would really hope Magento stops seeing Open Source as competition. The two depend on each other.