150 – Kinsta hosting on Google’s Cloud with Brian Jackson

Interview – Kinsta hosting on Google’s Cloud with Brian Jackson

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Today we have a chat with Brian Jackson from Kinsta. Kinsta are a managed WordPress hosting company who have grow rapidly since their inception in 2013.

When they started managed WordPress hosting was not the giant business that it was today. In those days we were still opting for shared hosting and VPS hosting. But with the advent of cloud platforms such as Amazon’s AWS and Google Cloud, there came an opportunity for people with the skills to leverage those platforms and repurpose them as WordPress specific hosting solutions.

There are clear benefits to using a WordPress host; staff dedicated to running just one platform and optimising it for that purpose alone, support staff who understand WordPress and are able to answer your questions without seeking the ‘WordPress guy’ in the company and resources to host your website which are global, always up and almost infinitely scalable.

All those years ago when Kinsta was founded, they chose to go down the route of using Google Cloud as their partner of choice. It’s a good story too. When they started it was not using Google Cloud, it was using a bunch of services such as Digital Ocean and Linode. For a variety of reasons, these did not work out, so they started to look around for a new company with which to work.

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This is now 2015, Kinsta was growing and Google Cloud was starting to be ‘a thing’. So they did a bunch of tests to see if they would be a good fit, and long-story-short, they were!

With 18 data centres around the world, and more coming online all the time, Google Cloud was a choice that Kinsta is very happy they made. As Kinsta grows, so too does Google Cloud, so it’s a happy symbiosis.

The whole point of a company like Kinsta is therefore that you get to use a great platform like Google Cloud, but without all of the technical difficulties that come should you try to deploy a site on Google Cloud by yourself. Now, let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting that you’re not up to the job because I know that many of your are. You could configure it with your eyes closed, but many couldn’t and would feel quite out of their depth if they were tasked to do so. There are so many options, so many things that you could do wrong, and so Kinsta does all of that for you. So if words like this…

  • LXD containers
  • Isolated resources
  • Virtual machine
  • Linux
  • nginx
  • PHP
  • MySQL

put you off… Kinsta might be a good fit!

Kinsta sets up your WordPress website so that it’s using the correct, scalable resources. This means that it’s got the power that it needs at the point at which it needs it. Which is a good things right?

Brian makes the point that no matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or just starting out with a simple website, you get the same infrastructure behind your website, different allocation of resources, but it’s all on the same hardware ready to scale at the click of a button should you suddenly get featured on T.V.!

In the past, Kinsta used to work on a pay-for-bandwidth model, but like other providers, they’ve now moved onto a pay-for-resources model and you can hear Brian talk about why they did that too.

In terms of security the might and size of Google Cloud is able to handle much of the DDoS that we hear so much about, but Kinsta also has options in their dashboard for you to manage aspects of this yourself. You can blacklist IPs, block xml-rpc connections and should your site get past their security measures in the time that it’s hosted on their platform they will fix it up, free of charge!

A few of the other items that we cover:

  • Keeping their platform up to date, such as PHP versions
  • Their bespoke dashboard
  • Premium DNS
  • Analytics of their platform as well as you website
  • 301 redirects are handled via nginx for speed
  • Regex options are available
  • Why some plugins (very few) are blocked to maintain your sites integrity in situations in which plugins can conflict with their tech stack
  • How their support system works with no tiered support, you get the same support team no matter who you are – they employ deeply tech focussed people only – no phones, just chat

So, if you’re in the market for a new host or just want to try them out, why not hook up with Kinsta and see how it works out.

* Full disclosure – Kinsta are a sponsor of this podcast, but I hope that you can hear that this did not alter the way in which the interview was conducted. They did not request an interview, I reached out to them.

Mentioned in this episode:


Woorkup – Brian’s blog

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: 00:00 Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now welcome your host, David Waumsley, Nathan Wrigley.

Nathan Wrigley: 00:21 Hello there and welcome to this episode 150 wow, that's quite a milestone of the WP Builds podcast. This episode is entitled Kinsta hosting on Google's cloud with Brian Jackson. It was published on Thursday the 17th of October, 2019 my name is Nathan Wrigley from picture and word.co.uk, a small web development agency based in the north of England and I won't be joined later by David Waumsley.com because it's an interview. We do alternate interviews and discussions and interviews with somebody in the WordPress community and a discussion is an episode with David Waumsley and myself. Before we begin all that though, just a couple of things to mention. If you wouldn't mind. Heading over to the WP Builds.com website. The menu at the top has this subscribed blankets at WP Builds dot com forward slash subscribe, and if you go there you can keep in touch with all of the things that we do over at WP Builds.

Nathan Wrigley: 01:17 It's a growing community and if you're into WordPress, you probably ought to be into WP Builds because there's a lot going on, couple of newsletters, you can sign up for one of them to find out about the podcast episodes that we do on the Monday one that we do and the other one is to sign up for WordPress deals, especially in the run up to black Friday. I've signed up for just about every email list on the planet and as soon as I hear about a deal, if you're on that list, I will get you on. I'll get you an email written, very plain text emails so you know, not a lot to look at and not a lot to think about. Just been it. If it's no good or if it seems like it's up your street, you can open it up and find out what's going on.

Nathan Wrigley: 01:54 But over there you'll also be able to subscribe on your favorite podcast player. Join our Facebook group. It honestly is such a lovely, lovely, thoughtful, generous kind Facebook group. Back 2,200 members all chatting about WordPress things and there's a bunch of other links as well that you can click on to keep updated. The other page dimension is WP Builds.com forward slash deals. It is a bit like black Friday, but every day of the week you can go and check out over there. If you're into WordPress products, go and see if there's something that you can grab. Also, WP Builds.com forward slash advertise advertising definitely helps keep this podcast going, so I would certainly appreciate it if you are a product owner or a service owner. If you want to come on the WP Builds podcasts as an advertiser, go to that page, WP Builds dot com forward slash advertise and fill out the forms a bit like these guys did.

Nathan Wrigley: 02:48 The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by the page builder framework. Do you use a page builder to create your websites or the page builder framework as a mobile responsive and lightening fast WordPress theme that works with beaver builder, elemental breezy, and other page builders with its endless customization options in the WordPress customizer. It's the perfect fit for you or your agency. So go to WP dash page builder, framework.com today and by WP feedback, our client communications eating up all of your time. If so, check out WP feedback, a visual feedback tool for WordPress that is specifically designed to get you and your clients on the same page and you can check it out at WP feedback dot c o and we do thank our sponsors because as I said, they do help keep the podcast going right to episode 150 today we talk with Brian Jackson who's been with kid stuff for many, many years, can start our a dedicated WordPress host, a managed WordPress host if you like, and many years ago they decided to go all in with Google's cloud. So you're going to find out today about why they made that decision, what benefits they think that decision has made, how things are scalable and secure. And generally you're gonna find out all about the kids, the platform. So if you're in the, in, in mind for swapping hosts or putting our website onto a new host, Kinsta might well be quite high upon your list. And Brian Jackson is going to explain all about it. I hope that you enjoy it.

Nathan Wrigley: 04:25 Hello there, welcome to the WP Builds podcast. I'm glad that you've made it this far. We're having an interview today with Brian Jackson, who's in Arizona in the United States of America and Brian is on today to talk to us about Kinsta hello there Brian.

Brian Jackson: 04:44 Hi. How's it going?

Nathan Wrigley: 04:45 Yeah, really good. Um, now I confess I have this conversation probably three or four times a week largely with clients or people in our Facebook group, but the conversation goes something like what's the best host for a WordPress website? And I think, I think we know what your position is going to be, but that's roughly speaking what we're going to tackle today. But before we, before we dive right into that, I'm just going to ask Brian to give us a bit of his backstory, how he got into WordPress and so on and so forth. So I'll just hand it over to you, Brian, with that. Tell us about yourself.

Brian Jackson: 05:20 Sure. Yeah. Um, so currently, yeah, I currently I'm the chief marketing officer at Kinsta. Um, but I've been using WordPress personally for, I mean it's been, it's been over a decade now. Um, I started dabbling with it, you know, back in, Oh, is probably high school, started building websites and I've been using it on and off ever since. Um, and, uh, before working for Kinsta, I was working for key CDN, which is a content delivery network. Yep. Um, so I did a lot of writing with WordPress there. And before that I was working for, um, an agency, um, where we build, we kind of built WordPress sites, um, and then marketed them for their clients. So I was using WordPress for lots of different clients in that role. So, and then, um, I also run a little blog, it's called workup. Um, and so I'm, whenever I have free time, which is, which is not as much as I like at the moment, but I'm always blogging because it's just, I love writing. I'm always have. And you know, WordPress is a great platform to just, um, to use for blogging too. So,

Nathan Wrigley: 06:31 um, so right away you've already worked out that, um, I've said the name of the company wrong because the way I say it is Kinsta like k I n Kinsta, but you, you're pronouncing it Kinstar like k e n s t a y is that, is there a, is there a kind of like a, an origin of the company, which goes to a different part of the world, which pronounces it differently?

Brian Jackson: 06:53 Ah, there. And so, yeah, my pronunciation Kinsta is partially, it is actually, you're very early over here in the u s

Nathan Wrigley: 07:00 Oh, I might be my voice a little too, cause it's currently a little past 7:00 AM here, which is I'm an, I'm a night owl, so this is actually

Nathan Wrigley: 07:08 really early for me. Um, but, uh, the origin of the company actually started in, um, Budapest, Hungary. Um, and that's actually where the original team still is and actually where the headquarters is. Um, and when I joined the team back in, Oh, it was early 2016, um, there were about, you know, seven or eight of them on the team at Kinsta. Um, so it was really small company when I joined. Um, and now, you know, we have, um, 50 to 60 employees. Um, so we've grown really, really fast and we're constantly hiring. We even have, I think we have fourths positions open at the moment, even on our website that we're trying to hire for. Wow. Um, so yeah, grown really fast. But again, I think some of that pronounciation is the original owners are Hungarian. So there is a, you know, the language is different. Um, even though they all speak English. Um, they definitely have, um, you know, it definitely sounds different than when I pronounced.

Nathan Wrigley: 08:10 Yeah. Yeah. Maybe. Maybe it means something. Does it have a meaning? Keen stir?

Brian Jackson: 08:15 It doesn't actually have any meaning. It's just kind of one of those random, yeah.

Nathan Wrigley: 08:18 Okay. I'm up with late at night.

Brian Jackson: 08:21 Yeah. We've talked about this before and yet, no really meaning just kind of a random thing.

Nathan Wrigley: 08:25 well, it's, it's come to mean something hasn't, it's come to mean WordPress hosting. I mean, is, is that, is that all you do? It's just WordPress specifically tailored for WordPress. Nothing else.

Brian Jackson: 08:37 Yeah. That, that is all we do is just, we focus entirely on managed WordPress hosting. Um, and to be honest, we don't want to do anything else because we really think we're good at this and we want to be, you know, the best that there is. Um, and the funny thing is the original founders used to do kind of what I used to do, where they, they used to build WordPress websites and work with clients doing web development work and they kind of got out of that because they didn't like doing that type of work. Um, you know, there's something to be said for, you know, freelance work and client work. You know, it's, you have to, you know, find new clients every month. It's not consistent, you know, it's, it's, it's its own challenge in itself. Yep. Um, and they found though when they were working with all these clients that at the time, this was back in 2013, that's when Kinsta originally started was, um, they just couldn't find any good WordPress hosts out there that they actually really liked.

Brian Jackson: 09:37 Um, and that, that was doing what they needed them to do. Um, you know, 2013 compared to 2019, you know, there were a lot, there's a lot less hosting competition back then than there is now. Um, now you have, um, I mean there's, I, I have a small list and there's probably, I would consider 30 to 40 hosts that are actually competitor to bars. And then you have broader hosts, you know, like go daddy, I would say, you know, it's still a competitor, but you know, they do all sorts of random stuff. So, yeah. Um, but yeah, it's just, you know, there were no good hosts at the time. And so the team, the original founding team said, hey, let's, let's build, we know we can build something better because, um, it's not out there yet. And so they kind of decided to build a hosting company. And, uh, long story short, here we are.

Nathan Wrigley: 10:25 It's amazing, really, you know, taking up 2013, I think WordPress by that point it established itself as the, you know, the dominant platform and was exhibiting signs of stratospheric growth. But I read something this week, which we now have officially finally tipped over a third of the Internet, 33.3% of the top 10,000 websites are now hosted on, um, on WordPress. And so whilst you've got lots of competitors, you also presumably have a very large pool who would have thought going back to 2013 that, you know, tens of millions of people would be using just WordPress for their online ambitions. And so, you know, looking back, it was all the stars aligned and they got the right product at the right time. That's amazing. Um, tell us about the platform then, because one of the, one of the things that you're very, uh, you speak about a lot in your advertising material is, is the fact that you, you, you don't own your own infrastructure. Your, well, you may, you, there may be bits of it that you do own. I don't really know, but, um, it's, it's a Google thing. You've decided to build your platform, our top of the, the Google Platform. Now I'm, I'm a little bit familiar with how that works, but not tremendously. So any part of that that you want to answer really, why Google? What's the benefit of the Google platform and so on?

Brian Jackson: 11:51 Sure. Yeah. Um, so originally I can tell you a little backstory there too, is when, you know, in 2013, Google cloud, I don't even know if it actually existed yet in 2013. It was, if it did, it was, it was, there was not much to it. Um, but, um, so when Kinsta originally started, we were, they were actually using, um, different vps, providers like digital ocean and linode kind of to power WordPress sites behind the scenes. Um, and it wasn't until it was 2015 when there, I don't know how close you watched the vps providers, but, uh, December, 2015 linode had like one of the worst outages ever recorded by a vps provider. I mean, you're, you're talking days at a time of some time. And it was like right at Christmas. Um, which is, yeah, pretty much a nightmare for any hosting company. Um, if you're, if that was who you're using as a provider.

Brian Jackson: 12:50 Um, and they were already thinking about this, but that was the final Straw. They didn't say, hey, we need a better provider for our clients. Like these, you know, there's, I have nothing against digital ocean Linode, you know, on there, they're awesome. Especially if you want to manage your own stuff, like great. But for a company that is needing to scale for fortune 500 companies, it just, it doesn't work sometimes. Um, and each provider has its own problems, but they decided to look out for a new provider. Um, and so at that time in 2015, Google cloud had started popping up on the map. Now, um, you know, AWS was obviously still going strong at that point. Um, and then you have Azure, which at the time wasn't really used by a lot of WordPress stuff. Um, you do have people using it now for WordPress, but it's still, I wouldn't say, you know, I wouldn't associate Azure with WordPress.

Brian Jackson: 13:47 In my opinion. Um, but so really the options were AWS and do we want to take a risk and go with Google cloud even though it's still pretty much in its infancy. Um, and after doing research, they did, you know, bench benchmark performance tests and all that stuff. They decided, hey, let's go with Google. Let's kind of use them as, you know, we can use them as kind of to help our marketing too saying, you know, hey, we're using Google cloud platform. Um, and yeah, long story short, it was the best decision they ever made. Um, when I came on in 2016, they were pretty much, they were actually still migrating some of the very large enterprise clients over to Google cloud. So I was still actually when I joined was still kind of involved with that transition a little bit. Um, and funny story is I was actually a Kinsta client myself already, so I actually went through the migration of my own sites, um, from linode to Google as a Kinsta to client.

Brian Jackson: 14:48 Um, so, um, yeah, and Google cloud platform now you can, um, they have 18 data centers around the globe. They launched new ones, I mean every quarter. Um, which is awesome because since we use them, we are able to immediately release those new data centers to our clients. So it's really a great partnership cause we can kind of as Google cloud platform grows we can grow with it as well. Um, and then they are consistently launching newer features, newer performance enhancements. Um, one thing, I think it was a year or so ago, maybe even longer now, um, they split up their network as in now they have a Google cloud platform, premiere network and a standard tier network. Um, so basically the standard tier network is for companies that don't need, you know, super low latency and want to know, save a few bucks. But for us it's great because we invest in the higher tier, um, networking stuff so that we can get the super low latency speeds. Um, and you know, Google, you know, obviously has almost unlimited funds and you know, they're building their own infrastructure. You know, like Microsoft and AWS under the ocean. So it's, it's great to be partnered with someone, you know, building pipeline under, across, you know, the continents,

Nathan Wrigley: 16:11 literally building pipes underneath the ocean. It is quite something isn't it? I mean love them or hate them. You know, we've all got an opinion about Google in terms of search and tracking and all of that kind of stuff. But one thing that you can be sure is that Google's website basically never goes down. Their infrastructure is, you know, unmatched really. I mean, maybe, maybe Amazon or something could, could equal it in that sense, but you're right, it's a phenomenal product that they've built, built out. Um, do you, do you sort of like take, um, are there sort of contractual things that you take from Google and pass onto your clients? So for example, do they have an SLA agreement, a service level agreement with you that you can then push in front of your clients and say, look, this is what we're offering. We're going to give you 99 point x percent uptime. Is there any of that sort of stuff?

Brian Jackson: 17:00 Um, they do, but it's not really, we're more responsible for the SLA stuff. Um, in my opinion on our end then Google is, Google does actually, it does have, um, stuff in place for that. Um, but to be fair, if a lot of times if you're using Google cloud platform directly, like you're the one managing. Yeah, yeah. Um, the virtual machines and stuff. So like, you know, our engineers are the actually the ones managing all that stuff. Um, there are times, you know, like we work with the Google cloud platform support team too, when it's, you know, obviously we don't have access to their data centers physically. So sometimes, you know, Google engineers are having to fix stuff for us, but it is a very rare occurrence and B, and it is like the reason you said, you know, they have teams that you know, that are working, that had powered Gmail, Google search, like you have all this knowledge that has been doing this stuff for years that they're now pouring into this Google cloud platform. Um, so, you know, they're, they're really, I mean, they're, they're going after AWS. It's really, I mean, their goal is to steal as much market share from them as possible. Um, and you know, it's, it's great for us because healthy competition like that just makes a better product for our clients in a sense. So

Nathan Wrigley: 18:14 the, so we know it's built upon Google work, so we have this if, if sort of difficult to understand product, the Google cloud platform, you know, if you tried to build your own site on that, well you could, good luck. I'm sure that you'd probably scratch your head quite a bit as you were working out. So essentially that's what you're doing. You're being that man in the middle, you're setting it all up, making smoothing out all the bumps so that week people for a monthly fee can, can use all of their stuff. What is it specifically, because our audience is fairly technical I think. What are the, what are the sort of features that, um, that you're able to talk about that the Google platform and therefore Consta um, what do they provide that means that your services is really good?

Brian Jackson: 18:59 Sure. Yeah. Um, so one thing like that, like if you were to try to do this on your own, like you're probably not going to want to do is um, that we use, um, what we call LXD containers. So they're little isolated containers. Basically, I'm trying to say this as simple as possible. Um, basically we use, um, virtual machines from Google. Um, and on top of that we have these isolated containers that have all their own isolated resources. So when you launch a WordPress site, it's actually in its own container with its own copy of Linux nginx PHP my SQL. And so every WordPress site is housed completely separate from one another, even if you have multiple sites. Um, so the resources are a hundred percent private. Um, and w w how this is awesome is it, it basically guaranteed security by design being that everything is separate.

Brian Jackson: 19:57 Um, and then it helps with, um, definitely for auto scaling for high traffic sites. Because how it works is basically everything is in its own container and then the virtual machines automatically assign resources such as CPU and memory on an as needed basis. When things are hit on that machine. Um, so you know, just an as, as, as an example, you know, a Google cloud platform server might have, you know, I don't know, 250 gigabytes of Ram, um, and 96, you know, CPUs. So, you know, it's just a massive, massive amount. It's very nice. And so you have all these little isolated containers sitting on the servers. Um, and then there auto assigning resources, the sites are getting hit with, you know, surges of traffic and all that sorts of stuff. Um, and you know, our goal, you know, we keep everything at a very low minimum, so nothing has ever, you know, no site ever goes down because of a lack of resources, um, on our end.

Brian Jackson: 21:04 So, um, that's one thing that we do for you if you host on Google cloud, um, is the isolated container stuff that you just can't do unless you, unless you really are tech savvy and want to do that yourself. Yup. Um, we also do stuff like we post your databases locally instead of having them hosted remotely. Some hosts actually have like these third party database servers that they host all their, my SQL databases on. Um, which is great for some things such as like it can be great for load balancing and some other things. Um, the problem with that is whenever you start splitting stuff up, it starts creating latency, between machines. It doesn't matter how fast the network is, you're always going to have latency. Um, and so we host everything locally so that everything is, you know, it's not having to go paying different machines.

Brian Jackson: 21:56 Um, you know, you're already, you know, using, we also have a CDN provider, so you know, we're already reaching out to a third party for your, you know, CDN assets. And so we try to keep everything local as much as possible. Um, and the great thing about how we've built our platform is that is different from other providers, um, is that we built it to scale from starter to enterprise. So when you're on a starter plan, you're using the exact same infrastructure that are fortune 500 companies, um, are using. Um, and if you want to upgrade, it's just a simple click in the dashboard. There's no migrations of all your stuff over to, you know, crazy, dedicated, completely separate environments. Um, it's really just a simple click, um, and you can upgrade and downgrade as much as you want. Um, you know, a lot of our clients, you know, they upgrade for the holiday season for like black, you know, black Friday over here, it's a big one.

Brian Jackson: 22:55 Um, and you know, Christmas album, the city too. And then, you know, maybe in January, February, March, they then downgrade back a little bit, um, based on their traffic stuff. So, you know, that's something that's really easy to do with our platform and I'm really, um, it's really helped us I think, grow because some of our other competitors have, it's very hard to migrate. And we've heard this from our clients that migrate to us, you know, saying, you know, we grew, we outgrew their platform and I, you know, they were going to have us go through a whole different migration process to upgrade to their higher and stuff where, you know, if you just start with Kinsta you can grow from your blog to accompany to an agency, to a fortune 500 company. It doesn't, it doesn't matter.

Nathan Wrigley: 23:37 So if I'm, if I needed to, let's say scale up the resources and what have you, the, the data, you know, the, the files and the it stay in exactly the same place as they are. You just provide more resources wrapped around them.

Brian Jackson: 23:52 Exactly. Yeah. Yep.

Nathan Wrigley: 23:53 Right. That's fine. But can you auto scale this, could you, is there a like a button that you can take which says, you know, if I get a spike, I'm prepared to pay for it. That's fine. Including the holiday season or do you have to kind of organize this in advance and think, think carefully about it?

Brian Jackson: 24:07 We do advise people to, you know, like watch, because we do charge based on monthly visits. Obviously you have to put the limits somewhere. You know, you can't just have it nowhere. Um, there's no such thing as unlimited hosting and I'm sure you've seen it out there. People advertise that. But there, that's, it's, it's a horrible thing to advertise because it's impossible, but to provide that. Um, and so, you know, we actually used to be bandwidth based, um, which, you know, most of our team would actually say if you asked us, honestly, we would say we prefer being bandwidth base, but we saw the majority of the market, even even developers at fortune 500 companies, they don't understand bandwidth models. Right. Um, which is, which is surprising. Like you have to be technical to understand how much bandwidth is my website using to know what plan I need for hosting. Um, and so we actually switched to a visit model, you know, back in, I think it was 2017, um, which, you know, we didn't want to, but it was a good move for us because we saw so much confusion around that. And once we switched to a visit model, it actually, it was helpful for us and for our clients because they at least have something they can recognize saying based on visits, I now know what I need to look at. Kind of it.

Nathan Wrigley: 25:23 I guess if you're a kind of normal end user, you know, like a mom and dad website owner, um, then it's, it doesn't make sense. All the bandwidth does it. But understanding that I've got 6,000 views this month, I get it. That makes sense. Yep.

Brian Jackson: 25:37 Yeah. And the Nice thing is we don't actually have physical bandwidth caps for our clients. Um, some providers might have visits and bandwidth caps advertise where we actually don't have any bandwidth caps. Now, obviously we do have, you know, we have our, um, terms of agreement and stuff that you can abuse, you know, you know, all sorts of stuff that hosts normally have. But you know, we have some people using, you know, quite a bit of bandwidth that, you know, we've scaled in such a way that, you know, we use to Google platform in such bulk that, you know, we get bandwidth really cheap. So, um, it's not an issue for us. You know, if we have some clients using a lot of bandwidth, some having a lot less because you know, we've done the math, you know, over years of time saying, you know, these amounts of visits kind of interpret to, you know, typically this amount of bandwidth for us. So

Nathan Wrigley: 26:24 you mentioned earlier about, um, the fact that you've got these, uh, LXD containers, so everything's containerized and that's a nice security feature. Are there any other kinds of security bits and pieces that are thrown in? I'm thinking things like, you know, firewalls and, um, denial of dedicated denial of service, attack, monitoring, that kind of stuff.

Brian Jackson: 26:46 Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean we have lots, we have hardware, hardware, firewalls in place. We have tons of active and passive security constantly running on our servers to, you know, monitor for DDoSs attacks and all sorts of stuff. Um, one of the great things too about Google cloud platform is that, um, just due to how, how big it is basically, um, it's, they're basically, they're automatically able to absorb a lot of the DDOS attacks automatically. Um, and AWS is actually pretty good about this tube too and so as, and Google too. But so for us, you know, we handle something, you know, a ddos attack that might get through their platform, but to be honest, Google cloud platform itself does a really great job of doing that at the network level. So we don't obviously have to worry about that as much as if we were using, you know, you know, maybe a third party vps provider or someone like that. That's another advantage of partnering with, you know, a big, big provider like this.

Nathan Wrigley: 27:48 Yeah. If anybody understands the amount of traffic on the internet, it genuinely is Google. Like to the point where in an, in a certain sense, Google kind of is the Internet to some degree. It's amazing. Um, yeah, so,

Brian Jackson: 28:02 and you know, we have, oh, we have, you know, all sorts of different random WordPress stuff, you know, such as like, you know, limits on if you have limits bands on ips, if you have failed login attempts so many times, um, you know, we blocked like XML RPC unless you white list it to just literally not have to worry about brute force attacks on that. Um, we have tools in our My Kinsta to dashboard that you can block ips with a single click. So you know, if there's some spam or you see like we have analytics to so you can see like, oh, this, you know, this one, you know, crazy person's hitting my site constantly. You know, let's just block them. It's easy to do in our dashboard. Um, and then, you know, we hide like the WordPress PHP version. We don't show the, um, even the WordPress version itself that you're running, you know, stuff like that. We've, we're really optimized for WordPress and doing this as many security precautions as we can. Um, the great thing is we do have free hack fixes. So if for any reason you are hacked, our team cleans it up for free for you.

Nathan Wrigley: 29:03 Oh, nice. Okay. Right. Yeah. I'm just looking on your website. I see that now. I hadn't noticed that before. So if during the time it's on yet, I mean presumably don't bring your hacked websites to kids and then, um, but if it's hacked during the time it's on your platform, you'll take care of that with you. That's great.

Brian Jackson: 29:22 Yeah. And it's funny you actually mentioned that. Don't bring it, we actually do charge a little fee if you bring a hacked.

Nathan Wrigley: 29:28 Okay. Do

Brian Jackson: 29:31 well, I'll charge you like, I think it's a self the top of my head, but I think it's a a hundred dollars to be like, hey, we see, because we have all sorts of malware stuff, right? So like if you bring a hack site over, we're going to tell you, hey, we see your site's actually actually hacked. Yes, we need to clean this up before we put it on our platform. Um, not just, you know, it's for your benefit because our stuff's an isolated container. So it's actually not a, it's not a security risk to other people on our platform, but it's a security risk for that person.

Nathan Wrigley: 29:57 Yes, of course. Yeah. Yeah. That's so in a sense, Ken stir could serve as like a, a cleanup service that's not, didn't expect you to [inaudible].

Brian Jackson: 30:07 It is. I mean, we do that. We have our engineer reps are doing malware cleanups literally on a daily basis. So because we have so many clients now that, you know, you can't, um, plan for everything and you know, with, you know, I think the repository has what, 30,000 calls a week, you know, just, you can block anything no matter how well your host is. Um, and so you will get vulnerabilities, you'll get people hacking plugins and so, you know, it happens. We understand that. And so that's why we provide the free hack fixes to be like, if you're hacked on the kinks to platform, you know, we will fix it for free.

Nathan Wrigley: 30:44 That's so that's a really great deal a thing. You know, fingers crossed, it never happens to you, but if you do happen to install a plugin, I mean usually it's plugins, right? There's some vulnerability in a plugin and often it's stuff that nobody's even published research about. It's just going on in the background. There's a zero day, nobody knows about it. The hackers are making, making hay out of it, but you'll fix it up. That's great. Um, you mentioned earlier that for example, things like IP blocking was done in the, the kind of Kinsta dashboard that's, um, something, a lot of people will be used to using a platform like yours and having their own dashboard. Maybe not, maybe you're used to something like c panel or plus or something like that. Um, do, is there a lot of proprietary stuff going on in that dashboard? So people might be familiar with installing a plug in a security plugin to block ips. So maybe you could spend a minute telling us what we would get if we actually logged into Kinsta. We've fired up an account. What do we see? What's going on in that dashboard?

Brian Jackson: 31:45 Sure, yeah. Um, yeah, I mean, we build our dashboard from scratch. I, you know, other hosts have to, you know, like WP engine has their own, have always had their own dashboard as well. Um, so, and I think, you know, flywheel has a great, I actually have a great dashboard. We kind of admire that, you know, they have some great designers over at Flywheel, so we aren't afraid to shout out, you know, when a company, even a competitor is doing something good. Like we're fans of theirs too. Um, but yeah, we built our dashboard from the ground up, um, to be optimized for WordPress and really for WordPress developers because the founding team at Kinsta, you know, there really are WordPress. They are developers and sis admins. Um, which is great because, you know, our CEO, you know, um, he cares, you know, about what PHP version we're running and making sure we're always using the latest versions because, you know, he's, um, I don't want to him, he's a, I don't wanna say he's a nerd, but I'm just gonna say that.

Brian Jackson: 32:43 Um, because that's the best way... Yeah. Um, you know, he's just like the rest of us were, um, you know, getting a 3%, you know, performance increased from using the latest PHP version that gets him excited. Yes. Um, and so it's, it's, that's why I love working for cases because we have a CEO that's like that and cares pushes the team to make sure, hey, you know, new version out here, we got to get it out to everyone because you know, a 3%, you know, performance increase, that's a no brainer. Um, so where some of these other competitors, you know, I've seen some take six months to a year to launch new page free versions, which in my opinion is just not acceptable. Um, and I don't care how big we will grow. It can, you said that will always be number one priority for us.

Brian Jackson: 33:30 Um, we will always figure out a way to push out stuff like that within weeks of it being tested on our end. Um, because it's, it's just crucial to keeping clients sites ahead of others, um, in the game because I mean, everyone's constantly looking for ways to be faster. So, um, but yeah, our dashboard, um, we, you know, everything is built by us. Um, we include premium DNS from AWS actually in the dashboards. You can manage your DNS records. We have tons of analytics stuff in there. Even performance analytics, you can see, you know, PHP worker stuff. You can see, um, CDN usage. You can see traffic bandwidth, um, all sorts of stuff in the analytics. Um, you can do stuff like add three Oh one redirects. So we advise clients don't please don't use three Oh one redirects or three don't use redirect plugins on your WordPress site.

Brian Jackson: 34:28 Um, because actually a lot of ways the plugins do it is actually bad for performance. Um, and so we do redirect from the dashboard, which does it at the server level with engine x, which is the fastest way you can add a redirect. Um, and so you can do that in the dashboard at a three Oh one we support, um, rejects, you know, so you could do all sorts of crazy, oh, rewriting all that and the other guys. Yeah. You know, I was pretty much just as advanced as you need to go, um, with our tool. Um, and you know, everything for, you know, SEO in mind as well in there. So we tried to build stuff so that you don't have to install plugins. Um, another one, like you said, is the security thing. So, you know, a lot of our clients don't have security plugins running on their sites, um, because they honestly, they don't need them.

Brian Jackson: 35:17 Um, some do, but you know, it's maybe for other features, um, you know, like we, we actually, we have a couple of plugins that we do ban on our environment, you know, like caching. Yeah. Okay. We do our own caching plugins, but um, you know, like wordfence is a popular obviously security plugin. We actually do allow that on our platform. Um, but there are features like the IP blocking in it that just won't work because yeah, how our platform works is the IP blocking has to be done at, we use Google load balancers, um, and it has to be done at that level for it to actually block properly. Um, and so you can set up wordfence but it's not going to do any of the IP blocking like it normally automatically.

Nathan Wrigley: 35:59 So you've stripped to feature out, but you've got your own feature anyway, which is probably

Brian Jackson: 36:03 exactly. Yeah. So if, you know, if, if we find, you know, things that customers want, you know, like wordfence is a great plugin. Um, and IP blocking is, is obviously something you definitely want to do. Um, but our platform does a lot of that already behind the scenes. Um, firm rules that we've built up and filters we've built up over years of time. And then we allow you to block it, you know, manually in the dashboard as well. For, you know, ones that you see that you need to do on your own. Um, so yeah, it's, you know, building stuff into a dashboard at the server level, getting stuff out of plugins is, is really important for us just because almost everything with plugins has some type of overhead associated with it.

Nathan Wrigley: 36:46 Um, one of the things that I think about hosting often is kind of like, you know, you sweat the details for ages and ages. You spend a long time, if you're a freelancer like me, which one, which company should I choose? And eventually you choose one, you get it all set up and then you kind of in a certain sense, apart from the monthly emails with the bill coming in, you kind of want to forget about it a bit. Um, but then of course the moment arises where something goes wrong and you need to contact support, something's broken and update didn't work, blah, blah, blah. What, what's the sort of the aftercare that you provide? You know, uh, we on chat, are we doing emails or we have, we gotten, uh, like, uh, within an hour response or something. Like that.

Brian Jackson: 37:31 Yeah. So, yeah, I, I would say actually this is one thing that really separates us from a lot of the other providers. Um, and I, I really honestly can say that like we changed how the support model works. Um, and thankfully this is really in part to the founders doing this from the very beginning, um, and sticking to their guns on this because it's actually very hard to scale how we did this. Um, but so we, we didn't, we don't have different level tiers of support representatives. Um, you know, a lot of companies, you know, you'll chat with their tier one support reps and then, you know, if they can't help you, they'll, you know, put you on hold for a minute and say, okay, we'll pass you on to level two, or Yep, this admin team or the, you know, all these other teams that you gotta help fix your problem.

Brian Jackson: 38:15 We don't do that. We hire literally only the best of the best that or everyone on our team has WordPress developers in Linux. I'm hosting engineers, you know, they use WordPress on a daily basis. Um, and do server management, um, daily. So, um, when you get a support team member Kinsta um, it's, you get to talk to the same people that support our starter clients all the way up to our enterprise and fortune 500 companies. Okay. So that's something that, you know, a lot of other companies aren't doing. Um, and it's great for the client obviously because you get to chat with someone that's, you know, super knowledgeable about WordPress and they, you know, has been, you know, fixing WordPress problems for probably the years at a time. So they've seen, you know, pretty much everything there is to see at this point. Um, and we do offer 24, seven support, you know, 365 days a year.

Brian Jackson: 39:08 You know, if your site goes, if your site breaks because of a plugin on Christmas, you know, we will be there to help you. Um, and our average support time in 2018 was under two minutes. Um, it's actually usually a lot less than that, but I don't want to actually say a time for that. Yeah. Cause you know, yeah, it is usually 20 to 30 seconds to be honest. But you know, if we, if we are busy, you know, our average was under two minutes, which is still in my opinion, really fast for our industry. I think. So are we, are we on phones? Are we doing chat boxes? Um, what does it look like? Yeah. So we do everything via intercom, which for anyone that's not familiar, it's just a, it's a live chat platform that's um, and it's just available, you know, all the time.

Brian Jackson: 39:54 And in our My Kinsta dashboard in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Yup. Um, and we decided not to do phone support. Now there's a couple of reasons we could have obviously added this. Um, but we've decided not to. And there's a couple reasons, um, is because we've found that even, even worth working with enterprise clients who might be the type, you know, hey, we, they want phone support, um, more than even, you know, a typical client, um, that we found that when you're troubleshooting things, you have to send links, you have to send screenshots. Um, and when you're on the phone, this is just impossible to do. Um, so a lot of times if it's a support phone conversation, it will end up in an email or a chat box at some point anyways. Yes. So it's actually not a good use of anyone's time.

Brian Jackson: 40:47 Um, and so, you know, some people ask us, you know, why don't you offer phone support? And so, you know, um, it's hard to sometimes convince people, you know, why it's not the great, um, how we've done it. But once they're on our platform, we've literally had no complaints at all. Not a single complaint about that. We don't offer phone support and it's because we focus 100% on answering you as literally as fast as possible with, you know, the most knowledgeable support reps. Um, now we do do sales calls, so that's a little different. You know, if, if you're an enterprise client that, you know, you know, moving a hundred sites over or something, you know, that's a big deal. Um, and you know, sometimes I want to talk to someone. So we do do phone calls for, you know, if you're wanting to come over to Kinsta for something.

Nathan Wrigley: 41:30 Well, fair enough. They, you obviously have a really amazing following the company as you were just talking to me before we actually recorded the company. It seems to be growing hand over fist. And I know that quite a few of the people that I mix around with in the WordPress community, uh, rave about your product. You know, w when those conversations, which WordPress hosts, they are, um, they are like your disciples, you know, they just want to spread the message of, of Kinsta. I suppose just before we wrap up, one of the things that we should probably get to, because it's always, it's always the, the conversation gets down to this at some point is the money. Um, so let's go there. If you go to Kinsta.com forward slash plans, you're going to see, uh, the usual table of different plans. And I'll just briefly talk about what each of the tiers, uh, gets you, uh, as opposed to the other teas.

Brian Jackson: 42:27 Sure. Yeah. Um, so yeah, our s we have, um, 10 different tiers and actually we have a couple more that we are actually adding at the moment. They'll probably be on there within the next couple of weeks. We have, right now we have a starter pro business one through four and an enterprise one and two, but we actually do have further enterprise plans that a lot of clients use. They're just not actually on her site yet. Um, so you know, we have a lot of clients using like an enterprise four plan, which is even bigger than anything on our site advertised. Um, but our starter plan, you know, starts out at, you know, one WordPress site, typical like lots of WordPress hosts have, you know, 20,000 monthly visits, um, five gigabytes of SSD storage. Um, we include, you know, 50 gigabytes of free CDN bandwidth, which is actually a lot of bandwidth.

Brian Jackson: 43:14 So, um, a lot of our plans, most clients never even approached their CDN bandwidth. And so, um, a lot of that's typically just free, um, for most of our clients. Um, and then, you know, we offer, you know, 30 back money back guarantee with no long term contracts. Um, and even if you're looking at different hosts, this is one thing I even advise, like don't just believe that we're the best just from me saying it. Like, please test hosting providers. Um, I, you know, believe 100% that if you try us, like you will stick with us. Um, our turn rate right now is under 5%. Um, so, you know, people that sign up with us, they never leave. Um, and we have, we have a funny internal joke, but we have kind of what we call a double churn rate for people that have left us thought like, oh, I think I can save some money maybe by going somewhere else.

Brian Jackson: 44:13 And then they actually ended up coming back two months later, uh, because they're like, wow, that hosts, you know, the performance wasn't that great. The support sucked. Um, and you know, saving $10 a month was not worth it. Like, I actually spent more time than my lost money that way. Um, so we have like a double churn rate. That's another kind of stat we kind of try to keep track of. Um, because um, yeah, I just advise people always test, please test, um, don't like you can, you know, there's thousands of affiliate bloggers out there always saying, you know, who's the best. So it's, it's important to test for yourself I think. Yeah. Um, and you know, all of our plans include a certain number of free migrations by our, our actual migration team. We actually have what we call a migration team because we migrate so many sites on a daily basis that we have guys just doing migrations nonstop all day long.

Nathan Wrigley: 45:08 So, um, they're really good at it, which is awesome because, you know, they're migrating blogs or migrating fortune 500 companies. They've seen every kind of setup you can possibly imagine from weird, you know, reverse proxy setups to complicated multi-site, um, stuff to, yeah. All sorts of stuff. Um, and the one thing that is an exception is if the starter plan, you do have to sign up for our annual plan. If you want to get that free migration. Okay. But every other plan includes free ones from our team. Um, and you can always pay for a migration to, it's like 100 bucks if you want to just pay for a migration.

Nathan Wrigley: 45:46 So the, there is a little toggle on that page at the bottom. If you are, uh, wanting to save a little bit of money by clicking the toggle on and if you're willing to pay annually, then on the start of lunch for example, you, you get two free months, let's put it that way. Um, so sometimes pay in advance it might be a good thing. Thank you. Yeah.

Brian Jackson: 46:09 And everything is prorated on our system, which is great. So say if you sign up on a monthly, you can actually upgrade later and still take advantage of the annual discount. So would like say, you know, say you want to try king sal, like sign up for the starter and then like, oh wow, I really like Kinsta. So I'll just pay for the annual upgrade. Um, and um, take advantage of those two free months going forward.

Nathan Wrigley: 46:32 You'll take all that into account. That's great. No, thank you. I think we've had a fairly, a fairly good chat about that. I mean obviously there's a whole load of detail that is still on, talked about. There's a lot of specifics, tech, technological stuff that you might be interested in. My best advice would be go to Kinsta dot com use the menu at the top, uh, to find out and use their chat to discuss with their representatives what's going on. Certainly worth a look. I would say certainly worth a look. One one that's um, you know, they've been around for a long time. This is all that they do is WordPress hosting. So, you know, if you're listening to this podcast, that's something you need. So I'm gonna say to Brian, you've got as much time as you like. You can say anything you like. Um, you know, Twitter handle, email, anything. Um, the floor is yours before we sign off.

Brian Jackson: 47:22 Sure. Yeah, I'm thinking here. Oh, the other one of the thing I would like to mention really is the, uh, we do have an affiliate program. Um, and like you said, um, earlier about, uh, I don't know if I would call them disciples, but I, I would say we do have some people out there that just, they really do love our product and you know, they try to help, you know, uh, spread the word for us, which is great because our affiliate program allows them to, you know, kind of make some money on the side too. And so, um, I, I honestly think we have one of the better payouts in the industry cause we offer up to $500 for every referral based on the plan and then also 10% monthly reoccurring for the life of the customer. Um, so you can, we have a lot of people earning, you know, actually quite a bit of passive income just by, you know, helping spread the word about Kinsta.

Brian Jackson: 48:18 Um, and with our low churn rate, it's awesome because it means if people don't leave, you basically get that passive income forever. So it's great for everyone. It helps, um, you can earn some extra money, helps us grow and we can kind of grow together. Um, but yeah, every everything else you can find me on Twitter. I literally live on Twitter. Um, so, um, it's Twitter actually has worked really well for US marketing. Um, and Tom, our CFO is also very a big fan of Twitter. You can find both of us, um, on their, um, nonstop. Uh, my Twitter handles, it's just Brian Lee Jackson, if you search Brian Kinsta in Twitter, you'll find me. Um, and then you can find Kinsta. Our Twitter handle grows just at Kinsta. Um, and then, you know, um, I would advise you to, to check out our blog.

Brian Jackson: 49:12 That's something that I literally pour my heart and soul and tears into. Um, just kinsta.com backslash blog. Um, we try to publish a lot of um, unique content. Um, yeah, there's a long, very admirable amount of what you put into them. Yeah. This last month we, I was really kind of proud of this myself cause it took a lot of work. If you look in our footer of our site, you'll see something that's called a speed upward press guide. It's over 25,000 words. Oh Wow. That's like how to take your site. Um, and it's literally basically I've taken all the knowledge of what I have and knowledge from our team over the last five years and poured it into this one article. Um, and we actually now have a printed book of this, which we are actually handing out at WordCamps even today actually as we speak, which is kind of cool.

Brian Jackson: 50:07 Um, and we'll be releasing the ebook version of that as well. So I advise you to highly check that out too. I think there's actually a lot of great info in there and not just for people using Kinsta, but for all sorts of stuff like database optimization. Um, wow. I better use and other ones really big. I'm doing the, yeah, the flicky scroll thing and I'm no where near the end. That's, yeah, it's definitely, it's, it's one to bookmark and read when you have time because it has been well done. Well done.

Nathan Wrigley: 50:36 Thank you Brian. I appreciate you coming on the podcast today, telling us all about, um, there's all about Kinsta and the stuff that you do and uh, hopefully some of our audience, we'll be in touch. So thank you Brian Jackson.

Brian Jackson: 50:51 Yup. Thank you very much. And yeah, if anyone has any questions, feel free to ping me on Twitter. I mean anytime or shoot us a message on our, on our website. Nice one. Thanks a lot.

Nathan Wrigley: 51:01 There you go. I hope you enjoyed that. It was very nice chatting to Brian Jackson all about Kinsta and how they manage their services on top of the Google cloud platform, how they bring a unique offering into the WordPress space. And Yeah, we just, uh, a very nice chat and I certainly got schooled on what do is. So I'm a little bit more in the know the WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by WP and UP one in four of us will be directly affected by mental health related illness. WP and UPs supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community. This is achieved through mentorship, events, training and counseling. Please help enable WP and UP by visiting WP and UP dot org forward. Slash. Give. Okay. That's pretty much it. Just a couple of things to say before a go. As always, we'll be back next week for a podcast all about WordPress, he things, but also we'll be back on Monday. I do a 20 to 30 minutes summation of the previous week's WordPress news, so you can check that out on Monday, but also live on monday at wpbuilds.com forward slash live. You can check out a live news bulletin. We talk about the news that I just mentioned with three or four people from the WordPress community. It's very fun, very lighthearted, and just just great. I'm really enjoying doing that, so join us for that, and if we don't see you for any of that stuff, we'll see you in the future. Bye. Bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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