Introducing WPCloudDeploy to Manage Your Own WordPress Infrastructure
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to talk with Nigel Bahadur many times in the WordPress community. Nigel is always building interesting plugins and projects.
Recently, we talked again because he wanted to integrate Logtivity with his new project, WPCloudDeploy. As always, Nigel is building something creative and innovative. WPCloudDeploy is a self-hosted alternative to services such as SpinupWP and Gridpane. You can use WPCloudDeploy to create and manage WordPress servers on DigitalOcean, Linode, AWS, and more.
While Nigel worked on his Logtivity integration, I asked him to tell us more about WPCloudDeploy.
#1. Welcome Nigel. Can you introduce yourself?
I’ve been involved in large-scale software development projects since the late 90’s and have bought, grown and sold multiple WordPress plugins over the last few years.
WPCloudDeploy is definitely my favorite WordPress project by far because there’s nothing else like it in the WordPress world.
#2. Can you tell us about WPCloudDeploy?
WPCloudDeploy is a dual-function plugin.
First, it is a self-hosted, dedicated WordPress server and site manager. It is similar to services such as Gridpane, SpinupWP, Cloudways etc. Except you host it on your own servers. With it, you can own the entire control plane stack, end-to-end. This is, by far, the most popular use-case.
Second, it is also designed for folks looking to build and manage scalable SaaS projects on WordPress. Because it’s self-hosted, the SaaS administrator owns and controls everything. You can customize any aspect of the admin and user experience. At least 50% of the new features we added this year were created with this customer persona in mind.
Because WPCloudDeploy is open-source, it is fully in the control of the admin. There are things you can do with it that you simply can’t do with hosted services such as the ones I mentioned earlier. For example:
- Admins can completely customize the experience for both admins and end users (if you allow the end user to access the control panel).
- You can deploy multiple instances in various regions to ensure that data never leaves those regions – not something you can guarantee with a SaaS service.
- You can create dedicated instances for larger customers who have multiple sites that they are nervous about commingling with other customers’ servers and data.
- You can translate it into any language using your normal WordPress translation functions (SaaS services tend to have a fixed number of translations, so smaller regions never get the benefit of using services in their native language).
- Admins can use all their WordPress skills to modify the plugin – it’s 100% based on WordPress. So data is stored in meta-data and listings for servers and sites use the standard Custom Post Type tooling.
#3. Who is the target audience for WPCloudDeploy?
WPCloudDeploy has two target audiences:
- Agencies and power-users that want to manage their own WordPress servers and sites.
- Agencies, power-users, businesses and entrepreneurs that want to build SaaS projects on WordPress.
#4. What are cool things people have built with WPCloudDeploy?
Most of our customers are using WPCloudDeploy to manage WordPress servers and sites. So it’s an internal tool that replaces a WordPress host, such as WPEngine, GoDaddy etc.
I can’t say there’s anything “cool” about those types of installations. It’s a useful, practical tool that solves a boring business problem.
But, WPCloudDeploy can be used to build SaaS projects, and that’s where some cool things are happening.
One customer has a solid base in building websites for radio stations. The unique thing about their model is the sheer number of custom plugins they’ve built, eschewing most commercial plugins in favor of their own home-built ones because it’s far more efficient.
We have a customer who, a couple of years ago, built a temporary SaaS project for a tradeshow in Europe. They shared a booth with a well-known Cloud vendor. Prospective customers would sign up and get a new WordPress server up and running before they left the booth. They signed up over 50 new customers in a single day.
But the coolest project so far is still being built. We have a customer whose end users are students involved with learning how to hack websites as part of their training to become security professionals. Students can sign up for a website that is deliberately configured to be insecure and then they try to hack them as part of their learning process.
Can you imagine trying to build that at a regular WordPress host? Those hosts can’t afford to deliberately deploy insecure sites because their infrastructure is so interconnected. WPCloudDeploy is allowing this customer to set up isolated SaaS instances that don’t connect back to other critical business components. Now that’s a project I never would have seen coming!
We also have some of our own niche projects that are built on WPCloudDeploy.
- WPCD.Cloud is a hosted version of WPCloudDeploy for folks who like the idea of having something with the WP UI but don’t want to self-host. If someone is looking for a monthly WPCD plan, this is also the place to get it.
- WPCloudPanel is interesting because it has three distinct sets of products being offered on a single site including an offering that is very similar to Cloudways, just with more server providers. This one shows off the versatility of WPCD in the types of projects that can be built.
- OpenSaaS.io is a hosted version of WPCloudDeploy with specialized pre-built configurations for folks looking to build SaaS projects on WordPress but don’t want to worry about the control plane servers.
- SimplySales.com is a simple SaaS that deploys WooCommerce stores.
#5. How does Logtivity fit into your WPCloudDeploy toolset?
As you know, one of the critical tools in keeping sites up-and-running is logs. When stuff goes wrong, logs are your best friend.
But logs can lie if they’re tampered with – for example if a malicious actor gets access to a site.
Logtivity can make sure that an admin gets accurate historical logs. This is because the logs are stored remotely, and the Logtivity plugin does not allow for deleting those records.
We believe that our customers who are running mission critical sites need this type of security around logs. This is true especially for those customers that are building and running SaaS projects on WordPress.
With our Logtivity integration, an admin can make sure that new sites always have Logtivity installed, licensed and activated.
One of the best things about Logtivity is that the service understands SaaS deployments. It knows that each site requires a unique API key. By allowing for the use of a team API key, that unique API key for each site can be acquired without forcing the admins to log into each new site to set things up. This is HUGE for automating things.
We’re not aware of any other WordPress logging tool that allows for such a smooth automated licensing workflow and doesn’t require a sharing a non-unique license key with each site. It’s the reason we ended up tightly integrating Logtivity with multiple touch points inside WPCloudDeploy.