This is the second post in a multi-part series on selecting a hosting provider for your Magento site.
Assuming that you either do not work with a solution integrator or you do not want to use their suggested hosting provider these next posts in this series will help you choose your own.
Before you can start accurately comparing hosting plans and providers you need to understand what you need to ensure that your site will be successful. Just as not all hosting providers are equal, not all Magento sites are equal. Knowing the following information will allow you to inform the hosting providers that you request bids from to accurately quote a hosting footprint that will work with your site.
How many requests per second to you get on average & at peak? – A page view is not the same as a request for the purpose of our discussion. To understand the difference head over to http://tools.pingdom.com and put in the URL of your home page. Run the test and once it is complete click on the Page Analysis Tab. Towards the bottom of this page is the Requests Per Domain box. This will show you the number of requests that were made to your webserver to render the page on the screen. Now that you have an idea on how many requests per page you need it is time to figure out how many page views per second you get. This can be hard to get but it vital to understanding the size and scope of the hosting footprint you will need. Google Analytics will only go down to as small as an hour. Hosting works in time slices of requests per second, so you will need to get more detailed information. Start by asking your current hosting provider to either answer this question for you by looking at the Apache or Nginx logs. Or if they cannot or will not tell you the requests per second ask for the raw log files to be sent to you. This is where getting a solid number can require the assistance of someone pretty technical. There are a number of free tools that can analyze these log files and give you a number. This number will allow you to know how many requests per second your hosting footprint will need to handle to ensure your site is successful.
How many store fronts are you running with unique URL’s? – One of the best features of Magento IMHO is that you can create and run multiple unique stores from a single installation. This is important when it comes to hosting for two big reasons.
- You need to understand the traffic patterns of each store and how that adds up to the overall traffic that your hosting footprint needs to handle. This includes how you intend to run promotions and marketing in the future. If you have just launched a 2nd store and it currently does not get much traffic but will be ramping up a marketing campaign, then you need to take that future growth into your plans.
- Search engine bots. Don’t forget about these guys when looking at site traffic. Remember for each store front the bots will crawl them independently of each other. It is pretty easy to have multiple bots crawling all of your sites at the same time adding up to a huge increase in traffic volume.
How many products are in your store and what type of product are they? – Not all products in Magento are equal when it comes to the technical cost of rendering them to the client. For example a category page with 24 simple products is simpler and requires less hosting horsepower to render that page than a category page with 24 configurable products. This starts to matter due to the cost incurred in updating promotions, running the indexes and rendering the products to the page.
How many employees will be accessing the Magento Admin? – Do you have a team of customer service or warehouse employees in the Magento admin during the day? If so you might want to consider a separate server for your admin portal access to keep the load off of the main customer facing site.
Once you have this information put together you can then move on to the next step, contacting hosting providers and start comparing what they offer. That is the next post in this series.