Pantheon.io – a better way to host your website
Times they are a’changing… and they aren’t a’slowing down.
In the olden days, when you needed a website, you figured that it just needed to validate your presence in the business world, like being listed in the Yellow Pages of yesteryear. The entire purpose was for companies to put their best foot forward and be ‘found’ by potential customers.
Now we’re living in the ecosystem of Web 2.0 in which social media has impacted our digital lives so that we interact freely with each other and share all of our personal experiences with the world. This trend has jumped into the business domain as well. For example, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t participate in every conversation on Facebook, but you can be certain he is the host of the party where a lot of conversations happen.
As I write this, the next evolution is emerging. Websites are now be able to automatically manage functions that used to be handled manually be people. Add to this algorithms, conversions, grouping, dashboards, and automated notifications, all of which are increasing employee efficiency 10-fold and more. What are we to do with all of the redundancy created?
As our websites demand ever more cloud resources in order to perform their increasingly complex tasks, so must we match the resources that we dedicate to their health and support. Thus, we have a primal urge to revisit our understanding of the hosting environment in which your website lives and breathes.
The idea of ‘a box in a closet’ storing our data is no longer sexy or relevant. It’s become risky. Hackers have become more sophisticated in creating viruses that jump partitions and can penetrate your hosting environment. Plus, the race to the bottom on price has put so much pressure on the service providers that the model has collapsed.
These days serious webmasters prefer the “dedicated” hosting solution, over the cheap, “shared” options. Dedicated hosting means only your website resides on the server. Your site is not impacted by what might be happening on a badly managed website on a shared server. With dedicated hosting, resources are distributed for safety and redundancy, and 24/7 phone support helps simplify hosting management.
Once the site begins to experience significant traffic, let’s say around 10,000 page views per month, hosting packages start to get pricey. After all, these sites need to have a large resource base, be flexible in their construction, and capable of adapting to traffic fluctuations with little, or no, notice. Often these hosting packages that offer support for that kind of scenario are typically referred to as ‘managed services’ or ‘managed hosting’ and fees can escalate to over $1,000 and up, monthly.
In response to this pricing paradigm, Amazon developed Amazon Web Service [AWS]. AWS offers a relatively straightforward graphic interface that simplify handling complex hosting platforms in-house. While they make the handling easier they often require a six figure income employee to stay on top of it.
Finally, we have Pantheon.io.
This hosting platform was created by developers. It’s an end-run or quantum leap straight to a dedicated hosting environment with all of the benefits of a managed environment at a cost well below the typical entry-level, dedicated hosting package. In fact, on Pantheon.io, development environments are free and starter hosting plans start as low as $25 per month.
Once a client has graduated from basic hosting to need something more robust, other issues like security, redundancy, automated backups, site health checks, and access controls become primary considerations. Fortunately, Pantheon has anticipated those needs and handles most of them in an automated fashion. Daily backups and the “New Relic” site health monitoring tool are all included in the price of even the most basic Pantheon plan. Plus, there are integrated features that make Pantheon great for developers, system administrators, content creators, and editors.
To begin with, Pantheon automatically creates three environments for every project. The “DEV”, or development, environment is isolated for the purposes of allowing the developers to have a clean and efficient environment within which they can deploy their code. Developers will actually be constrained to just this environment and prohibited from affecting any backups or site monitoring. After site launch, the TEST (like a staging) and LIVE environments are generated. Content creators and editors are welcome to begin developing content and, in the case of Web 2.0 sites, users may be using the site and all of its functionality. Continuing the software development life cycle [SDLC], content may be created in an ongoing path while development may be undertaken simultaneously. When the Development code is ready it can be tested against the Live content in the Test environment before affecting the LIVE site that all of the users are on. Finally, once everything checks out…the code can be migrated to the LIVE environment.
For those clients with a multitude of complicated features or very aggressive timelines, Pantheon provides the option of creating “Multi-Dev” environments so that multiple developers can work on individual features simultaneously. For example, one developer can be working on the theme, while another is focused on user functionality, and yet a third on administrative reporting. With this diversity, a team can bring a large scale project to market faster and cleaner than a single developer following a linear path, without accidentally overwriting each other’s work.
All in all, Pantheon is a cost-effective, feature rich, scalable hosting solution. We like it because it empowers our Executionists team to produce and manage high-end, web-based products at a reasonable cost and in a predictable time frame. This is why we offer free Pantheon hosting to our Secure Pack clients.
If you want to learn more about what Pantheon can do for you, please contact us at 310-753-3807 or email our Tech Manager to discuss your needs and goals.