WordPress has a deployment problem
Most web hosts use virtual servers such as what you see above. They’re slow, resource intensive, barely scalable, and have so many layers it is easy for something to go wrong. If anything goes wrong in just one of those tech layers your website goes down.
With the current price of web hosting, you’re looking at a minimum of $83.88 per year for just one WordPress install at Go Daddy (based on the regular price without discounts). Meanwhile, other WordPress hosting companies charge up to $29 per install per month ($348 per year). Think about that for a second, a single WordPress website now costs at least 1–4 Netflix subscriptions per month.
Meanwhile, all that money goes to hosting companies, and the developers whose themes and plugins actually power those websites only receive 1-off purchases, if they are getting paid at all.
We need to build a better system.
We Must Democratize Web Hosting
The famous 5-minute WordPress install is now an eternity in 2016 compared to other content management systems, and eCommerce platforms.
The Future of WordPress Is Containers In the Cloud
So what are Docker containers? Docker containers are a piece of software that wraps around code, system tools, system libraries, and anything else you can install on a server. Using docker containers you can essentially run WordPress like an operating system, and deploy it like an application.
Like an application, you can now automate WordPress deployments, save snapshots of existing installs, and clone them for other projects. Imagine being able to clone a WordPress instance with all your favorite plugins and themes already installed.
That’s the power and magic of containers.
Instead of selling development services, with containers a developer can now sell an entire WordPress website in a box direct to customers in a single click, and even offer them a free trial before the user enters payment info.
Better yet, containers make WordPress more scalable, and more efficient bringing down the economies of scale per install. What this effectively means is we can host more WordPress installs with less server and management resources bringing down the cost per install, while also improving performance. We can then pass the extra revenue this generates to developers to provide them with recurring revenue, and more customers with less support for the hosting companies.
Better yet, someone can even move Docker containers between servers, or even their local computer, so if they want to change hosts they can just take their entire WordPress container with them as is, and never go through a WordPress migration ever again. Now that’s freedom.
WordPress as an Operation System
Right now if you want to launch a WordPress install you have to purchase hosting before you even get access to WP-Admin, and if you want to buy a theme or plugin you already need to have hosting and WordPress. It’s pretty much one of the worst onboarding experiences of any modern platform. Even Joomla, and Drupal have figured this out.
WordPress can do better.
This problem can easily be solved with containers and an automation platform. Lets take WordPress.org for example, you could add a “Free Trial” button next the download button to launch a user into a WordPress container in under 10 seconds (fully enabling users to launch into a WordPress install from a mobile device), and let them actually try a self hosted WordPress install. From there, when the trial ends the user can then select a provider, move their container over with a click, and pay monthly with the provider of their choice. This simply wasn’t possible two years ago, but it is today, and this is just one of many exciting use cases of containers matched with an automation SaaS platform to turn WordPress into its own web OS.
So this is where things get interesting. Containers open up a whole new world for apps like Calypso, because now you can deploy Calypso in a container, and deploy a full WordPress install with API in its own separate container.
A Letter to Matt and Automattic
At the end of the day, the company behind WordPress.com is a software as a service hosting company. While that isn’t entirely what defines Automattic, it is where they make their money.
The fact of the matter is there are a lot more WordPress developers in the world than there are skilled DevOps, and if there is any hope for self hosted WordPress installs powering an additional 25% of the Internet we have to bring down the cost of hosting, democratize monthly hosting revenue, and share it with developers to build a more sustainable economy.
They say sometimes to change the world you have to invent it, and everything I mentioned in this article is possible today. I know, because we already built it over at WPdocker.com.
Former CEO and founder of CyberChimps WordPress themes, you can reach me direct trent-at-stratus5-dot-com.