Guest author Lisa Box is senior vice president of corporate development at WP Engine. Every day, roughly 5% of the entire online world (3.5 billion people) visits a website powered by WP Engine’s Digital Experience Platform for WordPress.

At WP Engine, we do exactly what our name implies: We provide the engine that powers implementations of WordPress—the world’s most popular content management system. 

We accomplish this through our Digital Experience Platform (DXP), which our customers—who scale from mom-and-pop businesses all the way up to Fortune 500 companies—use to create remarkable intranets, websites, and mobile apps on WordPress.

What each implementation has in common—besides its WordPress underpinnings—is the ability to delight users through stellar digital experiences built, developed, and maintained on our cloud-based platform, and managed by the analytics and insights it provides.

As you might imagine, maintaining, managing, securing, and keeping this platform on the cutting edge of performance is a huge job—and one that’s growing bigger by the day, thanks to the phenomenal growth of WordPress and our own correspondingly large customer base.

Indeed, today WordPress powers 35% of all the websites on the internet—up from 13% in 2010, the year of our founding. Those incredible gains have carried over to us, as WP Engine now drives more of the most heavily trafficked sites than all of the other managed WordPress hosts combined. That translates to more than 100,000 of our customers operating 500,000 websites globally—all with different needs.

So how do we manage all of this? How do we ensure that our platform is delivering peak performance at all times (since even a nanosecond slowdown can affect our customers’ conversions)?

In a word, observability. And for that, we turn to New Relic.

You can’t fix what you can’t see

One thing that makes WP Engine unique is our ability to surround WordPress with best-in-breed practices and technology so that we can scale it for the largest websites and deliver the biggest and best user experiences. Partnering with New Relic and integrating their monitoring solution into our DXP is a perfect example of this type of strategy.

From our earliest days, we knew that in order to meet the requirements of the enterprise, as well as those of our growing customer base, we would need to ensure that all instances of WordPress on our platform would be able to scale. We also knew that we would need to provide developers with the tools that would allow them to build new experiences and bring them to market quickly. Neither goal would be achievable, however, without a keen understanding of application performance within our platform.

New Relic has delivered the visibility we need to gain that understanding. By bringing data orchestration and application performance to the fore through a display mechanism that’s easy for everyone in our organization to digest, New Relic has allowed us to develop a cohesive, data-driven culture. This, in turn, has enabled us to do two key things:

  • Deliver the insights a customer needs at the moment they ask for them
  • Provide a platform that allows them to build experiences easily, quickly, and securely

As a result, we’ve been able to remain nimble, flexible, and quick as we continue to experience hypergrowth.

Always innovating, always optimizing

Whether it’s using AWS Lambda for platform orchestration or Kubernetes for container orchestration, we’re always looking for ways to improve performance and achieve a scalable infrastructure across our environment. New Relic monitoring has been key to this effort as well.

As the first WordPress DXP to offer Google Cloud Platform’s Compute-Optimized Virtual Machines (C2), we were thrilled to offer significant performance gains to our customers. But a migration of this scale—which entailed moving hundreds of servers at a time—is an enormous undertaking, and we needed to document both the speed at which we were able to migrate the servers and the performance improvements we gained in doing so.

Thanks to New Relic, we were able to do both by taking before-and-after snapshots of performance, and in the process, documenting and verifying improvements, for some customers of up to 40%. We’re now able to promise customers a huge performance gain if they sign up for one of our premium plans (which take advantage of the new technology). Without New Relic, we’d never have been able to verify the significant performance increases for customers attributable to C2 and a range of other initiatives.

New Relic is also invaluable in providing a single source of truth for the different layers of our cloud platform. As a dual-cloud provider (we use both AWS and GCP), we rely on New Relic to provide a single, synergistic view of how everything is working. Our global teams love it because it allows them to see the same information at the same time, which means they’re always in sync.

From platform support to product offering

At some point in our own digital transformation, we realized that the insights we were gleaning from New Relic were too good not to pass on to our partners. Thus, we created a joint application performance monitoring solution with New Relic specifically for WordPress products. We’ve now taken that solution to market and enlisted thousands of users who are running it through WP Engine.

Already, their uses of the jointly created solution have been inspiring. For example, a large publishing client with sites all over the globe is now using New Relic Insights to build custom dashboards that display the health of each of its sites. And this is just one of the unique ways that people have begun to use the Insights dashboards through our platform.

A culture of clarity

Today, New Relic is such an entrenched part of our organizational culture that we now have more than 25 employees who’ve been certified on it. This means we can offer New Relic training on site via our own certified sales engineers, making it that much easier to onboard new employees to the platform—especially those on our customer experience and site reliability teams.

Today, if a customer calls and wants to know how fast its site is running compared to the past or is having an issue with integration, we can get them the information they need immediately because New Relic will deliver it directly to our customer representative. The value of this type of real-time response simply cannot be overestimated.

When selecting vendors to help us provide optimal business outcomes, we’re always looking for organizations that will not only facilitate our growth, but help our customers achieve that goal as well. Additionally, we need our vendors to increase the stickiness of those customers—making sure they’re delighted every day as we earn their business. New Relic defines that type of vendor for us. 

Learn how companies using New Relic realize results like a three-month ROI of 191% by reading Forrester Research’s report, “The Total Economic Impact™ of the New Relic Platform for Cloud Migration & Optimization.”

Lisa Box serves as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategic Alliances at WP Engine and is focused on business development and expanding the company’s ecosystem of technology and agency partners. Lisa has an extensive background in partner program development, marketing, and channel incentive design from her nearly two decades in the domain and hosting industry in sales and marketing leadership roles. View posts by .

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