The performance of your WordPress sites has always been a top priority for our team. It’s one of the main reasons clients choose us today over our competitors, and we’ve proven this time and time again. We’re consistently one of the first in the industry to release the latest software such as PHP 8, and Review Signal has awarded us “top tier” performance five years in a row.
Kinsta was also the first managed WordPress host to utilize Google Cloud Platform (GCP) exclusively, and we keep a close eye on their newly released infrastructure. We’re always trying to push the boundaries, and today we’re taking it to a whole other level. We are excited to announce that we are moving to GCP’s next-generation compute-optimized virtual machines (C2).
We’ve developed our WordPress hosting platform to be completely scalable, from our Starter plans all the way up to our Enterprise plans. This means we aren’t just moving a select few to this new hardware or limiting their use to our higher-tier plans. We’re making the new GCP machines available for everyone at Kinsta. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a casual blogger or Fortune 500 company, you’re going to reap the benefits this change has to offer.
How exactly will this impact you? Over the past month, we’ve been testing these new machines internally and have been blown away by their performance. It varies based on the type of site, but we are seeing performance improvements from 30% all the way up to 200%!
Not only will you see faster load times, but you’ll probably also notice a difference in the responsiveness of your WordPress admin dashboard. For those of you working on your WordPress sites regularly, this should help make your workflow a little more enjoyable.
Kinsta’s Infrastructure and the New GCP Compute-Optimized VMs (C2)
For those of you who might not be familiar with our platform, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t fall into any of the traditional hosting categories. Our entire infrastructure is built on Google Cloud and is different from traditional shared, VPS, or dedicated infrastructure.
Every site on our platform runs in an isolated software container that contains all of the software resources required to run the site (Linux, Nginx, PHP, MySQL). This means that the software that runs each site is 100% private and is not shared even between your own sites. We use Linux containers as the underlying container technology for our infrastructure.
Each site container runs on a generously sized virtual machine, in this case, the new Compute-Optimized (C2) VMs. It’s located in one of multiple GCP data centers and secured behind the GCP firewall. Hardware resources (RAM/CPU) are allocated to each site container automatically by our virtual machines.
The compute-optimized VMs (C2) are a new compute family on GCP, exposing high per-thread performance and memory speeds that benefit the most compute-intensive workloads. Compute-Optimized VMs are great for HPC, electronic design automation (EDA), gaming, single-threaded applications and more.
These machine types also leverage 2nd Generation Intel Scalable Processors (Cascade Lake) and up to 3.8 GHz sustained all-core turbo. Additionally, C2 VMs provide full transparency into the architecture of the underlying server platforms, enabling advanced performance tuning.
In other words, these machines are able to handle even the most demanding WordPress sites!
Every part of our infrastructure is just as vital as the next. That’s why all sites at Kinsta are interconnected over the highly reliable Google Cloud Platform’s “premium tier” network, not simply their “standard tier work”. This is designed to minimize distance and hops, resulting in faster, more secure global transport of your data.
Benchmarking GCP’s Compute-Optimized VMs (C2)
Now for the fun part, the data! We ran a multitude of tests so that you could see the difference these new GCP machine types make. For each test, we benchmarked the home page for a minute with 15 concurrent users. Below are the details of our test environments.
- New C2 machine: Cascade Lake Intel scalable processor powered by GCP and running in an isolated container.
- N1 machine: Skylake Intel processor powered by GCP and running in an isolated container.
- OS: Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS
- Container stack: Nginx 1.15.12, MariaDB 10.4.6
- PHP version: 7.3
- Page caching: We ran multiple tests, one to HIT Kinsta cache and one to BYPASS Kinsta cache.
The tests were performed by Thoriq Firdaus, a WordPress contributor and web developer here at Kinsta. He’s contributed to WordPress Core and Translation Editor for WordPress Indonesia and develops a free MailChimp subscription plugin, WP Chimp.
The data below is measured in requests per second. The more requests the better.
WordPress 5.2.3 (BYPASS Kinsta Cache)
In our first round of tests, we are intentionally bypassing the Kinsta page cache. The reason is that we want to test the performance of the CPUs using the following stack: Nginx, PHP-FPM, and MySQL. Each uncached request to the site is handled by a PHP worker.
We aren’t too concerned with dummy data, as long as it matches on both machines. Measuring the performance difference of the GCP machines is really what we’re interested in. Would having more dummy data impact the performance? Yes, but we’ve also tested some heavy client sites further below so you can also see the impact.
We benchmarked the site for a minute with 15 concurrent users.
- WordPress 5.2.3 on GCP N1 machine: 77.82 req/sec
- WordPress 5.2.3 on GCP C2 machine: 163.89 req/sec 🏆
The new GCP C2 machines are on average 2.1x faster when it comes to cache being bypassed.
WordPress 5.2.3 (HIT Kinsta Cache)
In the second round of tests, we intentionally made it HIT our page cache. Even though a cached request is always going to be lightning-fast compared to an uncached request, we were curious to see the results. What’s really being tested here is the Nginx part of our stack, as this is what handles our page cache.
The site is the same one used in the tests above. We benchmarked the site for a minute with 15 concurrent users.
- WordPress 5.2.3 on GCP N1 machine: 7,886.16 req/sec
- WordPress 5.2.3 on GCP C2 machine: 16,426.32 req/sec 🏆
The new GCP C2 machines are on average 2.08x faster when it comes to our Nginx page cache.
WordPress 5.2.3 + WooCommerce 3.7.0 (BYPASS Kinsta Cache)
In the third round of tests, we again are bypassing the Kinsta page cache.
We used WordPress 5.2.3, WooCommerce 3.7.0, and the Twenty Nineteen theme. Our site was populated with dummy data from WP Test. It contains slightly fewer images and content compared to the dummy WordPress site.
We benchmarked the site for a minute with 15 concurrent users.
- WordPress 5.2.3+WooCommerce 3.7.0 on GCP N1 machine: 45.67 req/sec
- WordPress 5.2.3+WooCommerce 3.7.0 on GCP C2 machine: 178.62 req/sec 🏆
The new GCP C2 machines are on average 3.9x faster when it comes to cache being bypassed.
WordPress 5.2.3 + WooCommerce 3.7.0 (HIT Kinsta Cache)
In the fourth round of tests, we again are intentionally making it HIT our Kinsta page cache. The site is the same one used in the tests above. We benchmarked the site for a minute with 15 concurrent users.
- WordPress 5.2.3 on GCP N1 machine: 8,448.57 req/sec
- WordPress 5.2.3 on GCP C2 machine: 17,790.20 req/sec 🏆
The new GCP C2 machines are on average 2.1x faster when it comes to our Nginx page cache.
Performance Results We’re Seeing on Client’s Sites
We’ve already started migrating client’s WordPress sites over to the new C2 machines. Below we’ll share with you the performance improvements we’re seeing on real-world sites hosted at Kinsta. If you’re curious about when you’ll be migrated, skip down to our migration timeline.
Before we dive in it’s important to understand what these charts mean. We use a tool called New Relic to measure the performance of sites at Kinsta. This is much better than standard one-off speed test tools as many of those have latency issues or are sharing bandwidth. The New Relic agent runs continuously for as long as we need, allowing us to monitor every change in performance.
Essentially what we’re measuring below is the PHP and MySQL response times, or rather how much time on average a PHP worker is used to process a single request. The green area on the chart indicates the response times to external web services such as Google Analytics or marketing pixels of which Kinsta has no control over.
Client 1 – High-Traffic News Site (Hundreds of Requests/Min)
Our first client is a high-traffic news WordPress site doing hundreds of PHP requests per minute. After we migrated them to the new compute-optimized C2 machines, their site’s average response time went from ~250 ms down to ~80 ms. That’s a 212.5% increase in performance!
Client 2 – Popular Marketing Blog
Our second client is a popular marketing blog that also gets a significant amount of traffic. After migrating them, their site’s average response time went from ~300 ms down to ~100 ms. That’s a 200% increase in performance!
Client 3 – WordPress Community Blog
Our third client is a popular WordPress community blog. After migrating them, their site’s average response time went from ~400 ms down to ~185 ms. That’s a 116.22% increase in performance!
Client 4 – WordPress Agency
Our fourth client is Neuralab, a digital design, web, and mobile development agency that specializes in building eCommerce web applications. Technology-wise, they produce on top of WordPress and WooCommerce.
(Suggested reading: Your Guide to Starting and Running a Successful WordPress Agency).
After migrating Neuralab, their site’s average response time went from ~450 ms down to ~250 ms. That’s an 80% increase in performance!
Client 5 – Internet Marketing Blog
Our fifth client is Matthew Woodward, a well-known internet and affiliate marketer who helps teach people how to increase their search traffic and make money online. After migrating his site, the average response time went from ~750 ms down to ~385 ms. That’s a 94.8% increase in performance!
Client 6 – Health and Wellness Blog
Our sixth client is a health and wellness blog. This site was already heavily optimized so we weren’t expecting to see much of a difference. But after migrating them, their site’s average response time went from ~250 ms down to ~130 ms. That’s a 92.3% increase in performance! So even clients with already well-optimized sites are going to see an impact.
Client 7 – Marketplace of Service Providers
Credo is a marketplace that helps companies (especially ecommerce, SaaS, and B2B companies) find, hire, and work well with vetted digital marketing firms and consultants from Credo’s vetted network of talent. They moved to Kinsta due to cost and performance concerns with their current previous provider.
After migrating Credo, their site’s average response time went from ~1600 ms down to ~1100 ms. That’s a 45.45% increase in performance!
Client 8 – WP Buffs, WordPress Maintenance/Service
Our eighth client, WP Buffs, is a Kinsta partner and provides 24/7 technical support and WordPress maintenance services for any individual, business or organization with a WordPress website. They handle unlimited edits, performance enhancements, daily health maintenance, and regular security troubleshooting so their customers don’t have to.
After migrating WP Buffs, their site’s average response time went from ~850 ms down to ~425 ms. That’s a 100% increase in performance!
Client 9 – WordPress Developer’s Blog
Our ninth client is a WordPress developer’s blog. After migrating them, their site’s average response time went from ~225 ms down to ~125 ms. That’s an 80% increase in performance!
Client 10 – Ecommerce Site (Easy Digital Downloads)
Our 10th client is an ecommerce site that uses Easy Digital Downloads. After migrating them, their site’s average response time went from ~665 ms down to ~500 ms. That’s a 33% increase in performance!
Client 11 – High-Traffic Sports Entertainment Blog
Our 11th client is Superluchas, an online Mexican magazine specializing in pro wrestling (Lucha Libre) critics, essays, and news.
After migrating them, their site’s average response time went from ~1,100 ms down to ~560 ms. That’s a 96.43% increase in performance!
Takeaway From the Benchmark Results
Our team is always figuring out ways to increase the performance of your WordPress sites. In fact, over the past couple of months, we’ve also released awesome new features such as auto-optimizing databases, self-healing PHP, and TLS 1.3, and PHP 7.4.
However, since our move to Google Cloud Platform back in 2016, we can say without a doubt, this is by far the most exciting and impactful change we’ve had to our platform in regards to performance.
Looking at the data, here are a few things you can expect from the new C2 machines:
- Simply moving your sites to the new architecture is going to result in faster load times, without any work or testing required on your part.
- Due to the way the C2 machines work, heavier sites will see greater performance increases than those of already optimized sites. But as we saw above, even optimized sites are noticing a difference.
- This change doesn’t only impact the frontend of your sites. You’ll see faster load times on the backend, when working in your WordPress admin dashboard.
It’s always been important to us that everyone, regardless of their hosting plan, benefit from the same high-performance architecture to power their WordPress sites. This enables businesses of all sizes, from blogs to Fortune 500 companies, to easily scale with Kinsta as they grow.
Moving to Google Cloud Platform’s new Compute-Optimized (C2) machines has taken our already fast platform to a whole other level. We are seeing massive performance gains across the board, which gives our clients the competitive edge they need to succeed.
Migration Timeline for Your WordPress Sites
As a reminder, the new compute-optimized C2 machines are available to everyone, from Starter plans to Enterprise plans. Even on custom plans. They will be the backbone of our infrastructure moving forward, and the default for new WordPress sites that you spin up.
As of January 13, 2020, all client sites have been successfully migrated to the new compute-optimized C2 instances in available regions. As Google makes the C2 instances available in more regions, we will too!
Available Regions for C2 Instances
While we’re rolling out the new machines to everyone, they are currently only available in the following regions from Google Cloud Platform:
- Changhua County, Taiwan (asia-east1)
- Hong Kong (asia-east2)
- Tokyo, Japan (asia-northeast1)
- Osaka, Japan (asia-northeast2)
- Seoul, South Korea (asia-northeast3)
- Mumbai, India (asia-south1)
- Delhi, India (asia-south2)
- Jurong West, Singapore (asia-southeast1)
- Sydney, Australia (australia-southeast1)
- Hamina, Finland (europe-north1)
- St. Ghislain, Belgium (europe-west1)
- London, United Kingdom (europe-west2)
- Frankfurt, Germany (europe-west3)
- Eemshaven, Netherlands (europe-west4)
- Zurich, Switzerland, (europe-west6)
- Montréal, Canada (northamerica-northeast1)
- São Paulo, Brazil (southamerica-east1)
- Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA (us-central1)
- Moncks Corner, South Carolina, USA (us-east1)
- Ashburn, Virginia, USA (us-east4)
- The Dalles, Oregon, USA (us-west1)
- Los Angeles, California, USA (us-west2)
- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA (us-west3)
- Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (us-west4)
If you’re curious about where one of your existing sites is hosted, you can find this under your site’s “Info” tab in the MyKinsta dashboard. You can also compare this to our list of data center locations.
What You Need to Know
All client sites in available regions have been successfully migrated to C2 instances. As Google Cloud Platform makes C2 instances available in additional regions, our team will proceed with moving to the new infrastructure. If you’re a current Kinsta client, here’s what you need to know about future C2 migrations.
- Instead of live migrating individual sites (which would take months), we’ll be moving entire machines over to the new architecture. This will allow everyone to take advantage of the performance gains as soon as possible.
- When migrated, there will be a small amount of downtime per machine (5-15 minutes). But this will be performed during our maintenance windows, or rather off-peak hours based on the region your site is in. Scheduled maintenance will be posted for all affected locations in advance on our Status Page. You can subscribe for updates on each individual data center.
- No IP addresses will change during the process.
- For those of you on our dedicated plans wanting to migrate, you’ll need to chat with our sales team as these are handled on a case-by-case basis.
- If you’re in a region where a C2 machine isn’t available and you would like to move, this is possible. But please give our sysadmin team time to first complete the platform-wide migrations to the new machines. We’ll keep you updated. Keep in mind that you should always host your sites closest to where the majority of your customers and visitors are located. This helps decrease network latency and TTFB.
It’s important to our team that we keep delivering on our promise of providing the fastest WordPress hosting with high-performance solutions. We fully understand that for many of you, this is one of the primary reasons you choose us over the competition. That’s why we’re excited to roll out the compute-optimized C2 machines to everyone; regardless of the plan you’re on.
Whether you have a low-traffic blog or a high-demanding WooCommerce site, you’ll be able to grow with Kinsta and achieve speeds faster than what you thought was possible.
We realize some of you may still have questions. If you’re a Kinsta client, you can open a ticket with our support team, and we’d be more than happy to help. If you have questions about choosing the right hosting plan at Kinsta, get in touch with our sales team.
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- Optimization with our built-in Application Performance Monitoring.