Magento is, without doubt, one of the most popular and robust e-commerce platforms with more than 250 000 merchants around the globe using it.
Due to its complexity and nature, Magento requires particular set up and hosting environment that supports its features.
That is why for this article we have invited the guys from AionHill with more than 15 years of Magento development and consulting experience to shed light on some important questions:
- How to choose the best web hosting company for your Magento project?
- Is Magento a good fit for your e-shop?
- What questions to ask your future hosting company to make sure they are a good fit for Magento?
Choosing the right host for your e-commerce project can be crucial regarding user experience, sales, revenue and the overall success of your e-shop so make sure to read it to the end.
What is Magento and is it a good fit for your e-store?
Without a doubt, Magento is currently the most feature rich and popular open source webshop engine in the world.
Favoured by hundreds of thousands of merchants all over the world It all started at around 2008 developed by a small company called Varien and was quickly embraced both by the developer community and the shop owner. Hosting providers also liked Magento due to its unique features and extensibility.
Magento is designed from ground up to accommodate all the general functions a shop owner might need including integrated multi domain and multi store capabilities, flexible category and attribute system, customer management streamlined checkout process, and even basic ERP functions like shipment management invoicing.
Even more impressive is the number of 3rd party extensions available for Magento, which extend the robust core features in virtually every possible way.
Through different extensions, it supports hundreds of payment gateways shipping providers. There are modules that add unique value for navigation and search, customer management, promotions, improve UX order management, SEO, check out and many other aspects. There is also a great number of available 3rd party themes.
Magento is especially notable for its integration capabilities. It has a full fledged API interface, which inspired enterprise grade integrations to the leading ERP systems like SAP, Microsoft NAV, Netsuite and many others.
Magento has gone through a major refactoring lately with the launch of version 2 incorporating the most up to date backend and frontend technologies.
Magento is recommended to all e-commerce businesses from middle size up. Even though it is open source, due to its complexity it needs considerable expertise to set up and run properly.
Magento EE is the Enterprise Edition of Magento with support for enterprise grade clients. Magento EE features cloud support for database sharding, utilisation of Rabbit MQ queuing technology, out of the box Elasticsearch support and many B2B functions.
Magento is suitable for merchants who want to build a feature rich, extensible web shop with no compromises and are willing to handle it as a long time investment. Magento has relatively high development and hosting cost which usually pay off pretty well in the end.
Basic Magento hosting requirements
Magento 2 is built on top of the latest versions of the Apache/Nginx - Mysql - PHP stack, which most of the shared hosting providers already support. It should be noted, however, that to utilise the full potential of Magento cloud or dedicated hosting is highly recommended.
The full specifications of technology stack requirements are listed here.
Basic technical requirements of Magento 2:
- Apache 2.2 or 2.4 or Nginx 1.8 (or latest mainline version)
- PHP 5.6.5 or PHP7, PHP OPcache is recommended
- Mysql 5.6 or compatible MariaDB/Percona
- SSH access for the command line to
Extra server-side or 3rd party features, recommended on cloud and dedicated hosting:
- Redis cache
- CDN (CloudFlare, Fastly, CloudFront)
- Search engine (Elasticsearch)
- Http front end cache: Varnish or SiteGround’s front end cache called Supercharger, at the moment only available for Magento 1
- Rabbit MQ (Magento EE only)
What to look for in the BEST Magento hosting
As mentioned earlier, Magento performs best on a cloud or dedicated hosting, partly because it has some turbo features like Redis and Varnish cache and that requires particular software setup.
Also, it works best if the server resources and settings are fine tuned for the actual Magento configuration. Managed version of cloud or dedicated hosting fits best for Magento, where the hardware and software are customized for the exact needs of the Magento shop with full support and monitoring.
All this provides the best care and performance without the need for the merchant to fathom the technical details.
For a basic Magento shop, however, a Magento optimised shared hosting that meets the basic technical requirements stably can be a right choice in the beginning, too.
Shared hosting suitable for ~1000 products in catalogue and less than 50 orders daily
- Storage: 5-10GB
- Server: Apache
- PHP: 5.6.5+ with the option to instal php extensions or PHP pre-configured for Magento 2
- Mysql: 5.6
- SSH access
For cloud/dedicated hosting a starter setup for less than 10 000 products and less than 5000 users and less than 100 orders daily might be the following:
- Storage: SSD, 10GB
- Memory: 4GB
- Processor 2 cores
- Server: Nginx
- PHP: 7.0.6+
- Mysql: 5.6 with min. 512MB InnoDB buffer pool.
- Redis for cache
- Optional: Varnish front end cache
Advanced cloud/dedicated setup for 50 000 products and 10 000 users daily:
- Storage: SSD, 30GB
- Memory: 8GB
- Processor 4-8 cores
- Server: Nginx
- PHP: 7.0.6+
- Mysql: 5.6 with 1 GMB InnoDB buffer pool.
- Redis for Cache
- Optional: Varnish front end cache
The monthly cost of Magento shared hosting starts about at £10 but as mentioned before this is only recommended for very basic Magento shops. It is the best to choose the premium or the most advanced option right away to make sure the resources will fit Magento.
As far as managed and dedicated hosting is concerned, prices for a construction suitable for Magento start about £80-100 depending on the provider, resources and the level of the managed services.
As far Magento development costs are concerned, there is, even more, dispersion since Magento can be used for a single product e-shop as well as for a B2B business integrated to an enterprise ERP
Some Questions to Ask your Hosting provider
Without any doubt, hosting is a critical part of running a Magento store. Hosting implications are in many ways related to software development, so it is always the best to ask for the advice of your Magento developers when it comes to choosing a hosting provider and server configuration.
If your Magento developer agency takes the responsibility of hosting your store, it is a good practice to make sure they have dedicated IT professionals who are specialised in system administration, or the hosting company itself is providing these services itself. To make sure you are in the best hands, these are the questions to ask:
Questions covering essential managed hosting services
- Is regular backup provided for the Magento database media and system files?
- If so, for how long the backups are stored and how much time does it take to restore the system from the time it is requested?
- Do you have a 7/24 support?
- Do you provide any uptime guarantee?
- Do you have a monitoring system in place to detect bottlenecks and issues in time?
- Do you perform regular OS(Linux) and server software updates?
Of course, the answer to all these questions is ideally YES.
Questions for mission critical setups
- Do I get reports from the monitoring software?
- Is there any mechanism to make sure automatic alerts are sent in case of infrastructural failure or service problems?
- Can the server configuration scaled up to serve increasing traffic or reduced to same money in case of less demand? Is automatic increase of recourses possible?
- Is horizontal scale up possible with adding new server nodes?
These questions are only relevant for high traffic sites where fine tuning of resources to comply with heavy fluctuating demands is essential.
This is not the case for new businesses, but it can be a good idea to make sure a hosting provider is chosen right in the beginning where it is possible to hire a scalable environment. From the perspective of scalability, cloud offerings are the best.
Questions to your managed hosting provider specific of Magento
- Do you have any offering optimised for Magento?
- How many Magento sites do you host?
- Is a Vagrant or Docker based virtual environment provided by you that is identical to your staging and live environments?
- Do you support Redis?
- Do you support Varnish?
- Is a staging environment of multiple staging environments part of the service?
- How easy is it to make a functional copy of the live environment?
Magento and especially Magento 2 has some unique requirements regarding system resources and deployment process.
Properly tested infrastructure can significantly improve the quality of software.
Caching is especially important when it comes to Magento. Redis is memory based caching software to store configuration and other data in memory while Varnish is a front end HTTP cache, which can make the site fast but needs extra care and expertise on the part of a hosting provider.
Questions for your Magento developer related to website hosting
- Do you have in-house managed hosting services? What parts of the web hosting is run by you directly and what is managed by a 3rd party?
- What managed hosting services do you use? Do you have managed host partners with cloud offerings?
- Do you have a testing infrastructure? Do you use automated tests? Do you use any performance tests?
- Do you support continuous integration with automated tests and continuous integration with streamlined deployments?
- What is the expected downtime for the e-store on deploying the code?
- Do you support any deployment software by default, like Capistrano, Jenkins or Gitlab CI?
- What version control infrastructure do you use? How is your version control support integrated to your ticketing system, testing infrastructure and deployment mechanism?
- What is your deployment process, what software do you use for deployment? Can the deployments be automated?
- How do you handle Magento system logs?
- What is your software update schedule?
Magento is a system that requires especially close coordination between a hosting provider and a developer.
Both must have an in-depth understanding of Magento’s internals, and the developers should be familiar with all the server side implications of its features. In this sense, we are not only talking about simply hosting but rather “DevOps” where expert IT engineers support the whole development cycle, including local development environment, testing, deployments and hosting.
The hosting side can provide these DevOps engineers, the developer team can be 3rd party, or they can be even in-house within the developer agency. In any case without proper DevOps expertise, it is challenging to work efficiently on any serious Magento project.
A successful e-commerce business has many aspects, which are closely related in most of the cases. Being a leading e-commerce platform, Magento is designed to address all these needs and requirements with the latest methodology and technologies.
Even the hosting aspect of Magento can be so complicated that it is best to entrust experts with its management. That is what we call managed hosting.
Magento consulting is an even broader service, which provides support for all sides of e-commerce form from business analysis and project management through web development, 3rd party integrations and managed hosting to SEO and online marketing. A good consulting agency can deliver all this to a merchant in a trustable way. In this way e-shop owners can focus on growing their business.
This article is provided for Top5hosting by AionHill which is one of the leading Magento development and consulting companies in Europe with more than 15 years of experience. Here is a bit more info about them and the author.
AionHill is a dedicated Magento development & full service eCommerce Agency operating since 2001. In the past seven years, we have successfully carried out some complex, international Magento projects that are all still considered pioneers in the online market with their unique solutions.
About the Author
FERENC ANDRÁS VARGA
Ferenc is a very experienced senior developer having a Magento Developer Plus certification. He loves all aspects of e-commerce development, especially designing complex Magento extensions and integrations. He enjoys spending his time with his family.