If you’re familiar with our website, you know that A2 Hosting is one of our top rated web hosts. I’m personally so impressed with A2 Hosting that they now host our website, WebHostingCat.com. One of the things that makes A2 Hosting stand out from the competition is their continued innovation and improvements with their hosting plans. Each year, A2 Hosting releases new or improved features with their web hosting—and this year is no different. So, what’s new at A2 Hosting? To find out, I sat down recently with Ryan Flowers, Support Supervisor at A2.
Ryan and I chatted about a year ago on the podcast, and I really wanted to visit with him again to find out what’s been going on behind the scenes at A2 Hosting and to get his take on the new features and services there.
Web Hosting Cat: Can you give us a brief update on what’s new at A2 Hosting?
Ryan Flowers: We’ve had a lot of new products launch. This year, since we last talked, we have launched our Managed WordPress Hosting. We’ve been growing quite a bit. We’ve been getting a lot of new folks in support and sales, and keep making sure we have products that our customers need. We opened up the Phoenix data center–that is where all of our products are currently being provisioned.
WHC: From a support perspective, is there a huge difference between the Managed WordPress Hosting product than say the Shared Hosting, Turbo Hosting plans?
RF: Interesting question. They’re strikingly similar except for one major thing. Our WordPress managed hosting is designed specifically to host WordPress websites. A lot of the managed WordPress hosts, they sell their hosting by the number of hits they are going to get on your website. And so, they’ll say, you can get 2,000 hits for this one, or 30,000 for this much or whatever. We don’t limit the number of hits you can get.
Next, of course, we have site staging, everybody’s got that, but we don’t have any plug-in limitations. Some hosts don’t allow you to run certain plug-ins or they’ll have some reason that you can’t use a certain caching. We also of course do backups, automatic updates, and here’s one of the cool things– a Jetpack personal license. Everybody should run that on their site. It’s great. But you get even more because you get a personal license for it.
So [those are] some pretty neat reasons to get our Managed WordPress over some others. The support site is very similar and our folks are really good at it.
WHC: Speaking of support, can you give us an overview of the Guru Crew team?
RF: Well, we have people all over the world working for us in support. We have folks in Ecuador, and Eastern Europe, of course, a lot of US-based. So we have people all over the globe working for us. And the nice thing about having remote work for us especially in support, is that you can pick and choose your talent so you are not stuck to a talent pool size of the city that you’re in. So we got some really nice talented folks who are really good with customers too.
WHC: Do you find the support teams focusing on one platform (Shared Hosting, VPS, Dedicated Servers) as opposed to another?
RF: Well, I guess it sort of comes down to, whether it be A2 or really any host, whatever product you sell the most is where you are going to be focusing. And we have teams that focus primarily on our Shared stuff, but the same team does Dedicated and VPSs, and Managed WordPress. And if there is something that is above their level with maybe a dedicated server, that will be escalated to the team that can specialize in that. But we are very broad when it comes to our response. The same team works on pretty much everything.
WHC: With the A2 Shared Hosting platform, are there a limited number of accounts you put on each server and do you have account isolation on the shared servers?
RF: Yes. One thing that we don’t want to do is overload a server to the point where it can’t perform its own basic duties. Overloading a server is bad for everybody. And so, we simply don’t do it. Everybody’s site becomes slower or even inoperable when a server is overloaded. So our first step there is to prevent that problem from happening by simply not overloading the servers.
The second thing we do is we run a software which allows us to limit the resources each account gets. So when you buy an account at A2, you are getting a certain amount of CPU resources. You are getting certain amount of memory and certain number of processes. So that way, you can’t have one account on a server take over the entire server. And I call it, like a bad neighbor problem or let’s call it the smelly guy on the bus.
So one guy gets in the bus and now everybody’s suffering, right? So to keep the smelly guy off the bus, we make sure we give him his own room. So that way, you don’t end up with a server overloaded because of one website. That way everybody gets to perform well and that is what we focus on, speed. So if one account is having problems, we’ll prevent that from causing problems for other people and at the same time we’ll help that person or that customer to get their account under control.
WHC: With A2 Hosting, you get a quadruple redundant network. Can you tell us about that and the other security features A2 provides?
RF: Sure. So when it comes to the networking side, these are all computers. Things break. Networks go down. And so, we’ve got redundancy there. There have been instances where we see a blip happen and we have a few people saying, hey, my site is down. But it is back up in less than 5 minutes because a route changed, because a provider dropped or there was some other issue. When it comes to security, we’ve got Patchman. Security is a big deal especially when it comes to WordPress. We’ve got articles in our knowledge base that are aimed at the WordPress beginner to help them to keep their site secure, which really isn’t that hard. It is just a few steps that maybe aren’t obvious to the absolute beginner.