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Why we set up a new infrastructure for our collaborative web design platform

One of the key aspects of SiteManager, the first collaborative web design platform, is that it’s cloud based. The big advantage is that minor and major infrastructure updates are happening in the background, and most of the times it goes unnoticed by our users.

Wasting time and resources on maintaining and updating websites and infrastructure, is one of the main reasons why agencies switch to SiteManager. While self-hosted open source solutions like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla are still dominating the web design market today, we strongly believe that in the next decade these platforms will be completely replaced by cloud competitors.

Premium partnership with Combell

The SiteManager cloud infrastructure is managed by Combell. They are the market leader in Europe for hosting services, and they earned the trust of 167.752 companies. "Only" 3 years after our last server migration, the team at Combell convinced us to switch to VMware, as they are more experienced with this platform and thus could provide us with a better service.

Combell Offices - Ghent Belgium

Aside from the expertise of our hosting partner, the servers come with many improvements that will benefit our users:

  • The new generation CPU’s are up to 3x faster
  • Faster Storage Area Network (SAN)
  • More bandwidth
  • PHP version 7.3
  • Use of php-fpm (allows a website to handle high loads)
  • MYSQL percona

Upgrading the entire codebase & live websites

Since the new infrastructure is running PHP 7.3 we had to replace all deprecated code from the previous PHP version which we were running. This took a lot of research, work and testing but we eventually managed to pull it off. Not only did we update our entire platform we also updated the code of thousands of websites.

Every SiteManager website is a separate entity within the platform with it’s own unique folder structure and database. The reason behind it is that every project can be extremely different from the other. Think blogs, catalogs, webshops, multi language, integrations, etc... To facilitate this unique character, the folder and database structure can change accordingly. The separation also makes it easy for us to set up multiple server clusters. We’ve migrated all the databases to new MYSQL Percona servers. Which, besides being faster, improved our backup solution.

Our static websites were already loading very fast. With the new server migration the load improvement will be minimal for these types of websites. The biggest change can be seen on websites who load a ton of dynamic content on one page. In the example below we have tested a page that renders 90 database entries with 180 images.

A stunning improvement in load time!

Speed comparison old vs new server.

SSL update

A year ago we outsourced an automated SSL integration with CertCenter for our users. Whenever a problem occurred we couldn’t be as responsive as we wanted to because we were dependent of a 3rd party to intervene. We decided to fix this when we were starting with the server migration.

Our developer Simon is rebuilding the SSL automation from scratch. The first phase is already live and the next couple of weeks the integration will be finished. With the switch to in-house development we will be able to respond much faster when issues need to be resolved.

Important: A-Record change

All our live websites are up and running. At the moment we are redirecting the ip address of the old server to the new. However: it is very important that you change the A-Records of your domain names to the new server. Click here for more information on how to change the A-record of your domain names.

Change is the only constant

No matter how many tests you run, when major changes like this are executed there will always be some hiccups. The first two days after the migration we had a pesky apache bug that caused the platform to crash a couple of times. Overall the migration went very smooth and we would like to thank the Combell team, especially Jean-Louis and Ina, for their effort and dedication to make this endeavor a success.