Multisite Scaling Strategy

I'm wondering if anyone is willing to provide some input and suggestions, as we're wrestling with some strategy decisions.

We are launching a turnkey hosting system based on WP multisite. There won't be any community features or other interaction among sites. Each user's sites will be individual, much like when someone purchases cPanel hosting.

With this in mind, we're debating three strategies:


We'd set up a big, scalable multisite installation and let it grow.


- Only updating one set up plugins, themes, etc.
- Only paying for one cPanel and LiteSpeed license, etc.
- Ability to sign all users up under the same domain (for a coherent appearance)


- Complex, expensive setup (especially since it will take a while to build a client base)
- All eggs in one basket...if one server goes down or gets hacked, all clients are affected


We'd set up individual servers, each hosting a set number of clients (just as we do with cPanel hosting...when one server reaches the set resource level, we just add another server to the cluster).


- Not putting all eggs in one basket...if one server goes down, small percentage of clientele affected
- Modular approach, just like our cPanel hosting
- Ability to offer clients a choice of different geographic server locations


- More maintenance required (although possibly offset by not having to maintain complex giant multisite)
- Paying for more cPanel and LiteSpeed licenses, etc. (however we'll use large servers to minimize this)
- Need to update multiple servers when themes and plugins updated (not a terribly big deal)
- Users have to sign up under different domain names depending on server location (not such a big deal as most users will probably map their own domain name to their site)


A hybrid of strategy #1 and #2...a few smaller clustered multisite setups, maybe spanning 3-4 servers each.


- Maintaining fewer systems than in strategy #2 (although managing this might be more complex overall)
- Paying for fewer cPanel and LiteSpeed licenses, etc., than strategy #2


- Fairly complex, expensive setups
- Still putting all eggs in a few big baskets

Any feedback would be appreciated!

  • Philip John

    There are probably others more qualified than me but here's how I understand Edublogs to work...

    There are two servers; one hosting one multisite and the other hosting many multisites.

    Server 1 has the free and supporter blogs while server 2 has the campus clients who each get their own multisite.

    Combined there are over 1 million blogs with the majority, I believe, on the one Multisite.

    Obviously it works for Edublogs but up to you whether you consider it a wise strategy :wink:

  • Lorange

    Sorry to re-open the topic but I would be glad to hear some more feedback too.

    I'm working on a similar project. I cannot give you technical arguments as I'm not a professional techie guy. However I'm probably going to chose the first strategy (One giant multisite) for a simple reason: works like this... Edublogs works like this... and it seems to work :slight_smile:

  • Jonathan


    Ryan Allen from Envato gives a funny and interesting talk about scaling WordPress for high performance.
    Envato is the boss of sites like TutsPlus, CodeCanyon, and ThemeForrest.

    Their 1 web server/1 db server setup serves over 850,000 pageviews a day. Their configuration is:

    nginx + FastCGI
    Amazon S3 and CloudFront
    w1000-super-total-mega-shark-cache-on-a-boat-on-a-plane Cache Plugin
    Follow Ryan ScalingWP!/scalingwp
    site: site (seems to be down?)

    Hope that helps a bit?

  • wpcdn

    So far, we're undecided. But we're leaning toward strategy #2 (multiple individual servers). The reasons we are leaning against strategy #1 (one giant multisite) are:

    1) Whereas Edublogs and are communities, with interaction among the blogs (summaries of content on home page, blog directory, etc.), we aren't like that. We'll be selling hosting in a multisite environment, so each client site will be an individual entity that's not connected to the rest...a silo, so to speak. So, this eliminates the need to create one giant "community." In our case, each site stands alone.

    2) Although individual servers would require a certain amount of effort to maintain, one giant multisite would also require a huge effort to set up and maintain.

    3) As mentioned before, one giant multisite would mean putting all our eggs in one basket. In the event of catastrophic failure, all clients would be down while we get things restored. And restoring a huge system would take much longer than restoring a single server. If we're running smaller, individual servers and one crashes or gets hacked, only a small portion of our clientele is affected.

    4) As mentioned before, with individual servers we can offer our clients a choice of geographic locations ("Host your website in Chicago, Los Angeles, London," etc.).

    That's where we are at this point, but we still haven't finalized our decision. Any additional input would be greatly appreciated.


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