After much consideration, we’ve decided to indefinitely suspend the WP StageCoach service that we’d been providing free of charge to all of our managed hosting clients here at LittleBizzy for around the past year and a half.
(We ask any LittleBizzy clients with active staging sites to immediately find another staging site solution, as all currently active staging sites will be permanently deleted within 2-3 weeks from today.)
If you aren’t familiar with WP StageCoach, it is a very nifty way to create temporary “staging” sites for WordPress by using nothing more than a simple plugin in the WP Admin area. The tool allows webmasters to quickly setup a staging site in just “one click” and then use that site to test out new design or coding features.
While the WP StageCoach service is a fantastic concept and was found to be very useful by some of our clients, the ability of the staging servers to “sync” back with our live managed servers never reached a point of true reliability or stability. Moreover, while we happily covered the cost of the service as a “courtesy” feature for our managed clients, the customer support for WP StageCoach was still handled by the WP StageCoach team, which confused some of our clients — a few of whom have insisted on continually badgering our support system regarding issues that are outside of our control.
Overall, less than around 10-15% of our clients used the WP StageCoach service, from our recent estimate.
When LittleBizzy was first launched, our goal was to create an extremely stable hosting environment for SMBs. Among other things, this included avoiding Apache, cPanel, email services, and staging sites (etc).
While the idea of staging sites is surely handy in many situations, I personally have always felt that they are more trouble than they’re worth, at least for the typical small business. Although the feature has become extremely trendy among managed WordPress hosting companies in the past 2-3 years, the approach we’ve taken with LittleBizzy has never sought to chase trends, but to be as simple and pragmatic as possible. And, indeed, most of the “support” requests we’ve received in the past year and a half relating to WP StageCoach were from small business owners hosted on our (cheapest) Standard plan, who for some reason or another didn’t want to hire proper web developers, and were attempting to figure out “staging” despite, perhaps, their clear lack of technical expertise; TL;DR, this is not what staging sites were meant for!
Wit this decision, we are “going back to the basics” and re-focusing on having the best production servers possible. This means, and will always mean, not bogging down the live server with too many unrequired applications.
For what it’s worth, the team at WP StageCoach is fantastic, and very receptive. I offer two key suggestions:
1. DNS validation / CNAMES. Rather than requiring an API key or username (etc), we’d previously discussed having some sort of domain validation with WP StageCoach, such as wpsc-verify-12345.example.com. This, along with actual CNAME staging, e.g. dev.example.com or stage.example.com for each client site, would be amazing additions. Some of this is already on the discussion board for WP StageCoach, from what I understand.
2. Better LEMP server support. Currently, WP StageCoach seems mostly focused on supporting shared Apache hosting. If they could figure out how to support syncing better with Nginx/LEMP servers without having to manually hack default MySQL configurations (etc) I’m sure they could generate a more diverse user base (or server base, as it were).
We highly encourage our clients to setup their own WP StageCoach account if they desire.
Also, Mergebot: https://mergebot.com/