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Network Upgrade Complete, FastCGI Cache Active

Jesse Nickles   |  7 May, 2017

The last few months have been hectic here at LittleBizzy, to say the least. Not only have we made several important announcements on our blog recently as we continue to shape the direction of our services, but we’ve also been undergoing a complete “network upgrade” as well. We are happy to report what we’ve finally been able to achieve: 100% of our client servers (and websites) are now running Ubuntu 16.04, PHP 7, and MySQL 5.7. Although we are a “little” hosting provider, we are extremely proud of having achieved this far ahead of 99% of hosting companies out there.

Along with this, we are now treating Vultr as more of our primary network partner rather than DigitalOcean. The reasons for this are multiple, including datacenter locations, hardware response, and of course pricing. While Vultr does fall behind DigitalOcean in certain areas — such as APIs, extendability, and so forth — overall it is a fine match for our focus on managed WordPress hosting, and we want to be transparent about this significant partner shift.

These changes in totality have already resulted in most of our clients seeing significant speed increases.

One more major feature has also been implemented: FastCGI Cache. For those not aware, this is a cache system built directly into Nginx itself, meaning that no additional software is required at any level in the “stack” to get it working; instead, the configuration files in Nginx are customized to the sysadmin’s liking or needs, which is what we’ve been experimenting with for the last several months. At first we only played with FastCGI Cache for our Premium and Enterprise clients, but because we’ve had such huge progress in the last few months with our system developement and “spring cleaning” we have now rolled it out for 100% of our clients on every single hosting plan that we offer.

In short (for the less-geeky), this means MUCH better and smoother caching abilities. Instead of having to deal with cache plugins for WordPress, which require PHP processing and can inadvertently be “turned off” by well-meaning developers or freelancers, now caching is completely taken care of at the server level. This not only means less resources are required — meaning better performance and stability — but it also means your team no longer has to worry about managing cache plugins and settings all the time, which is the entire point of managed hosting.

Although FastCGI Cache has been around for a few years now, it’s only recently become the “go-to” choice for cutting edge caching in Nginx, as for several years most advanced systems were using proxy pass instead.

In the earlier days of LittleBizzy, we made a conscious decision to avoid proxy pass caching, which is rather complicated to setup and maintain, and frankly is envisioned as less of a cache and more of a reverse proxy technology. Because we aimed for a simple yet impressive hosting environment with one website per dedicated VPS server, it just didn’t make sense for us, especially noting our focus on SMB customers.

To make FastCGI Cache “manageable” we have incorporated it completely into our centralized configuration system. In other words, the future of LittleBizzy is aiming to keep configuration as universal as possible across hundreds and thousands of dedicated VPS servers. This means that rather than customizing FastCGI rules on a per-server basis, we have created optimized configurations especially for WordPress and WooCommerce websites.

More technical information, esp re: cache clearing, is available in this FAQ answer.

If you notice issues with caching, esp. during the next several weeks and months, kindly get in touch with us. We are super excited about FastCGI Cache and have tested it extensively, but a few necessary tweaks are inevitable.

Another post regarding our two year birthday and future vision is coming soon. Thanks!

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Last modified: 7 May, 2017https://www.littlebizzy.com/?p=17959

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