We Discuss All Things WordPress Hosting in 2021 With Tom Fanelli CEO & Founder of  Convesio 

Tom Fanelli CEO & founder Convesio. Tom is a driven, highly accomplished global product and marketing expert with extensive experience in both small, innovative startups and large enterprise organizations.

Develop and lead globally dispersed marketing and product teams. Lead companies through reorganizations and periods of change and challenge. Responsible for $100 million dollar+ P&L and advertising spends. Entrepreneurial leader with a passion for marketing, visionary leadership skills, and a commitment to growing companies.

The Interviews Main Talking Points

1. We have been the hosting provider for the WP Agency Summit this year.

2. We just did a live stream with Vito this morning on how we have been handling the infrastructure and what it takes to host a conference at scale. If you remember last year the conference crashed the first day the load was so high.

3. We have a new version of Convesio launching this coming week… You actually will be the VERY FIRST news outlet to publicly mention it.

4. Other newsworthy things:

Welcome to the WP tonic podcast where each week Jonathan and his cohost interview, the leading experts in Word Press e-learning and online marketing. Jonathan, take it away.

Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic Show its episode 581. We’ve got a really great guest here. We got Tom Fanelli here, founder of Convesio, one of the premier Word Press hosting providers on the market at the present moment. I haven’t got my co-host Steven he’s bumped off ladies and gentlemen. Now he had an urgent technical issue dealing with a major client, so I do excuse him. So, Tom, would you like to quickly introduce yourself? So the listeners and viewers- Just give yourself a 20-second intro.

Tom Fanelli: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks. And, you know, I heard I’m officially auditioning for the part of Cohost today, so I’m looking forward to this.

Tom Fanelli: So my name is Tom Fanelli and I’m the founder of Convesio. We are a scalable Word Press hosting platform that uses containers and database clusters and multiple servers to host your website so they can easily scale up and down and handle large surges in traffic. And I’ve been building websites since the mid-90s. It’s been a lot of years. I was doing websites way before Word Press was probably even an idea in Matt’s head. And the first sites I built were on a product called Adobe page mill. So that really dates me. It’s like most people never even heard of that, but, yeah. Yeah. So, I’ve been around the webspace a long time. I started my career at an agency and then went to work, for a software company and my sort of DNA, the way I describe myself is I’m at the intersection of marketing product and technology.

So I’m a very technical marketing person and a less technical technology person. So I do a little bit of command line, CIS admin development stuff, but I wouldn’t call myself either one of those, you know, a really good one either way. So, yeah, so that’s me. And, I’ve been in California for the last 12 years and recently moved to Florida. I’ve got four kids and, I’ve been married for, I think, 18 years now. And, yeah, so that’s me in a nutshell.

Jonathan Denwood: Well, that’s great. We’re gonna be talking about, recently, you’ve been supporting the WP agency summit [Inaudible 02:54] supplier, around that muscle had its own individual Challenges. We’re going to be talking about Digital Ocean’s upcoming IPO. We’re going to be talking about all things hosting. but before we do that, I’ve got to mention one of my major sponsors and it’s in the same area, but they’re both quality companies and that’s Kinsta Hosting Kinsta has been sponsoring the show now for almost three years now, and they’ve become great friends of the show. Kinsta is a Word Press-only hosting provider. If you’ve got a client that’s looking for the performance they got Woo-commerce, a large membership site learning membership site. You need good hosting and that’s what you get from Kinsta. They use the power of the Google cloud. Plus they have all the bells and whistles, all the technical things as a developer you are looking for.

So if that’s interesting, to you go over t0 Kinsta have a look at one of their packages and please buy one. And if you do that, please tell him that you heard about them on the WP tonic show. It really helps Kinsta and it really shows support for the show and that’s much appreciated. So, Tom, so you been the backbone of the WP agency summit, which I’ve been watching a bit. I watched a bit of it yesterday and I think they’ve done a fantastic job in that, Vito is a friend of mine and he regularly comes on my round table show. So we’ve been supporting his efforts as much. So what were some of the technical challenges of trying to host something like that Tom?

Tom Fanelli: You know, we sort of had a pre-conference conversation this morning about this with Vito and I told Vito, you know, I said, you know, look we gotta tell people what it takes to prepare for an event like this. Because the preparation to do this is quite intense I mean, you know, we started by analyzing all the analytics that we had from last year. And, you know, if you remember last year, it was like we were out of the gate. It was awesome. And then everything crashed because there was such a huge load on his hosting services. And I don’t remember what he was using, but he was on some sort of a single VPS or dedicated server somewhere. And it couldn’t handle the traffic requests that were happening simultaneously. And so you know, because this is like my people here, right? This is my peers. I’m like, okay, we gotta make sure we’re fully prepared for this.

Jonathan Denwood: I just wanted to interrupt for just a little second. I can think of nothing more resource-intensive than a virtual tech summit with multiple video feeds. That must be one of the most difficult [Inaudible06:10] possible.

Tom Fanelli: Well, one of the things that’s unique about events like this versus membership sites and e-commerce sites is you get a big spike at a certain time because there are scheduled things that are happening. And so the normal behavior for people is, Oh, the first conference is starting five minutes before you’ve got to be able to handle a thousand people logging in within a few minutes of each other. And that is not a common type of load that most e-commerce sites see or membership sites where people can just log in at their leisure and consume material or purchase. And so that’s really sort of what we kind of designed Convesio for And I shared some stats, but basically, you know, in two days we’ve processed 2 million requests, 6,000 visitors from 91 countries.

And, you know, that’s, I was telling Vito, I’m like, this is really impressive that we’ve reached 91 countries with this because I mean, and we were in a room with a guy who was from Pakistan and he said, man, I’m just so thankful that you guys are doing this because there’s just a lack of these type of events, you know, even with COVID going on, you know, aside from that, there’s a lack of these type of events in certain countries.
There’s a lack of meetups. You know, we take for granted the fact being in the United States and the UK and parts of Europe, like there’s a very thriving Word Press community. Some people don’t have the ability to network with other people in the space for them. And so that’s really awesome that the conference is reaching that.

So in order to prepare for this though, we, you know, we had to have- we did a bunch of load testing. So, you know, Vito’s currently running on, we have this on the Google cloud, so we’re kind of cloud-agnostic. You know, we can run on AWS, Google, we’re partnered with another company called steadfast, which is a great Chicago-based data center. And so, you know the conference is running on five Google C2 compute-optimized instances with 16 cores each and 64 gigs of RAM each there are five load balancers deployed there are 10 front-end Word Press containers and a three-node Percona database cluster powering the site.

And one of the things that we’ve sort of done that’s unique is many people know if you’re on a VPS or shared hosting, platform, you kind of are confined by the resources you have on that single VPs and what our platform does is take the load and distributes it across the cluster. And what I was telling Vito when we were talking about this morning is, and he knows this from having to set some of this stuff up for others- the video streaming and stuff, hiring an SIS admin to set up load balancers and a cluster, and figuring out distributed Word Press it’s tens of thousands, thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. And probably lots of hair-pulling because you’re not going to figure out all this stuff the first time you do it. And we’ve made this really easy where it’s like you can push a button, poof your site’s running in 10 containers. So, yeah,

Jonathan Denwood: That’s fantastic. But I doubt it from experience, what you [Inaudible09:48] that it can really go by very quickly. Obviously, as a hosting provider you’re really putting your reputation on the line hosting something like that because it’s gotta be right, isn’t it? Otherwise, it’s going to cause you a lot of bad publicity. You know, I give you 10 out of 10 for ’em because they say they all seem to run totally flawless I didn’t have any problems with any, I must have watched three of the presentations and they were all flawless.

Tom Fanelli: And I think one of the things that we’ve done is, you know, we’re monitoring It’s not been flawless full disclosure. I mean, there have been issues, right, but you just have to have a team ready to sort of respond and deal with them. But one of the things that I think is, really important is, you know, we’ve got a new Relic on everything. So we’re actually monitoring how fast the conference is loading for end-users, in real-time. And so we can tell like, how’s the backend stack, what’s the database doing? What’s the end-user experience And so we’re watching that stuff to see, are there any anomalies, are there any bottlenecks and, you know, cause you can prep by doing a bunch of load testing. But you’re never quite sure what the real use of something is going to be like, what are people going to do?

We try to overestimate, when we do the testing and prepare for the worst possible case scenario, but you know there are always issues, people run into and face during the live event and you have to be instrumented to monitor and track that stuff and then have teams ready to sort of step in and resolve things as quickly as possible.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, that’s fantastic. So, and also you got something new that you’re launching in the coming week. You said you were quite happy to discuss it. And you said we are going to be the first to actually announce it, so tell us more Tom.

Tom Fanelli: Yeah, exactly. So I hope we get a release next week and we don’t become like a typical tech company. We’ve sure been delayed our fair share of releases, but Vito and the WPA, agency summit are actually running on the next version, version three of our platform. And, it’s been a really great, you know, worked great because, you know, Vito’s, the conference is powered by a platform called Waahi, which is, Vito’s platform that has sort of developed, which is the underpinnings of it are Word Press. And so it really was a great collaboration and partnership. And if you’re thinking of doing an online conference, the platform has done really great. And so I would highly recommend you check it out.

And so we’re partnering together to host Waahi and provide this service for customers and the new version of, our platform and his version of Waahi this is sort of the debut of it. The timing just worked out, we were able to do this event, but we’re releasing some really cool new features. You know, we’ve sort of been talking about auto-scaling and the ability for you to scale up and all that the new version of our system is going to expose all of the controls and the settings for customers to manage those settings themselves. So you can actually say, you know, I want to manually scale up. You know, we’ve had customers come to us and say, I’m going to do a big, you know, newsletter blast. And I want to scale up before it because I’m going to expect a lot of people to come to it.

And so you can now control the amount of scaling that your site does with a few clicks of a button. And you can also choose thresholds were like if my site gets to 80% CPU capacity scale up to another instance of it. And so we’re really excited because I think there is nothing on the market that makes multi clustered database multi-server database, nearly this easy to use. It is very simple, a few clicks of the mouse. We tried to cover up all the really complicated bits and pieces of it and expose it where people want to have advanced settings to control things. But if you compare this to any other platform to set this up and manage to scale, it’s just not even anywhere near as close to as easy.

We really designed it for those non-technical Word Press business owners or agencies that want to scale sites or have the ability to scale. And you can just turn to scale off too if you don’t want to scale. And you’re like, I don’t want to pay my sites are landscapers doctors, lawyers, they don’t need scaling. I don’t want to have any variable pricing you can just disable it. And, so we’ve really made it very user-friendly and driven by the user and exposed the bits and pieces of it whereas before it was really sort of handled behind the curtain of our platform.

Jonathan Denwood: Right. So is he gonna be offering this, as a plugin solution? Or is he gonna be offering it as a SAS model? Or is it going to be a hybrid or a bit of both?
Tom Fanelli: Yeah. So for Waahi?
Jonathan Denwood: Yes.

Tom Fanelli: Yeah. It’s going to be a SAS model. I’m pretty sure. There’s, there are two sorts of use cases for it. There’s the, and if you go to Waahi.IO. I’ll have to check that real quick. But if you go there and you sign up, you can, yeah. W A A H I.io, you can go check it out, but the models are like, it could be your virtual office space for you and your team. And then it also can do events for your business, which are-

Jonathan Denwood: I knew he was doing the event. I was totally up to, what he was doing also this office side. Oh, right. Yeah. I suppose you know, Tom Fanelli: I would default to him as the-.

Jonathan Denwood: He’s always up to so many things that- I don’t think he actually sleeps at all [Inaudible16:15] so he probably doesn’t.

Tom Fanelli: He does I can attest to, him sleeping very little during this conference. So I’m going to sleep for a day or two afterward. I told him to take the weekend off.

Jonathan Denwood: He came on the show two weeks ago, my round tables show. And he said the next couple of weeks he’ll be busy with his conference. It’s totally understandable. But we will be seeing him in April. He’s a regular he comes on the show once every month, just going for our break, actually. And then when we come back, let’s have a chat about, digital ocean and their IPO, and about what’s happened to the hosting market in general. So we’re going to take break folks, and we’ll be back with Tom see you in a few moments.

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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back we’ve got a feast about hosting it’s going to get even more technical to some extent. The hosting business in general, I find it fascinating in a way just the business side of it. I had, I think it was about three months ago. I had Chris Limmer on the show from Liquid-Web. And I always felt that hosting was dominated by a few really enormous players. And he kind of put me right about that, that when you look at market share, that it’s really dominated by a numerous amount of small players. We have some very large players like Go Daddy. But it’s still an extremely fragmented industry and it seemed for a long time to be an industry that was really set.

Like you had shared hosting you had virtual, servers, and then you could have your own physical server. And as you got bigger as a website and busier, you kind of worked your way up from shared hosting to a virtual host to your own server. But then a few years ago, everything seemed to change when it came. And that was cloud hosting [Inaudible 20:28] right about that, the fundamentals that it was cloud hosting, and that really kind of changed the hosting business fundamentally.

Tom Fanelli: Well, you know, I don’t know, I’ll give you some color around that and you can make the decision as to how that fits in with what you just said, which is, I think there’s been, maturity of the market. Okay. Globally hosting is about a hundred billion dollars a year business. Okay. And it’s about 18 million, 20 million I think of shared VPS. What I would consider legacy hosting, and then 75 billion of that market is managed to host. Okay. And this isn’t just Word Press, by the way, this is just hosting in general. And so I think what you’re seeing is, and if you look at how those are growing, the compounded growth rate of managed hosting is actually twice as much as shared hosting or as the, the legacy hosting model, right? The shared VPS And I think what’s happening quite honestly, is as the industry matures, people are beginning to realize they can’t host real business-critical websites on Go Daddy for $2 a month.

Okay. I’m gonna have to call out Go Daddy for any it’s like any shared hosting. If you’re spending 3 bucks a month or two bucks a month, and it’s all the big guys have done this, you know, the EIG the blue host, the host Gators, it’s like, you cannot rely on that because you will have issues. And they’re just, you can’t, I mean, at three bucks a month, there’s no ability for a company to reasonably provide great service with that product. And so the market, in my opinion, is maturing. No question. So the consumers of the market are maturing to higher-end solutions. Uh,

I also think though the hosting market is predominantly, predominantly me too space, which is just bothersome to me, like, because of my DNA, I told you of the product tech and marketing, like I think innovation is what moves things forward. There are so many companies providing a commoditized service by slapping C panel on a server somewhere and saying I’m a hosting company. Okay. And what’s the difference between a C panel server here, there, or anywhere else, and very little Right and so, you know, it’s like, there’s not a lot of tech innovation happening with these companies.

Now you have the companies like Kinsta, Pantheon, and I’m a huge advocate. And I wrote this article and talked about this months ago, and I’m like, you know what, everybody should carve off every Word Press agency. You know, there’s a lot of agencies where they’re like, oh, I don’t want to move to a Kinsta or WP engine or a Convesio or Pantheon because they’re too expensive. Everybody should have some of their sites on one of those hosts. Even if you don’t host all of them there, it’s kind of like, you should stand by the companies innovating in your space.

And so I think that there’s a lot of hosting noise out there, which is all just C panel. And so when you clear that stuff aside, and you clear the largely commoditized hosters aside, what are you left with? You’re really left with a pretty fragmented market. Like you just said, which is a lot of different people providing specialized higher-end services. And of course, the 800-pound gorilla in our space is WP engine soon to have an IPO. Very excited about that I think that’s going to be a really big moment in the Word Press space because, unlike Go Daddy and EIG, they are pure-play, word Press only hosts. There’s a lot of hosting companies that are public, but this is going to be, you know, them and automatic or the true unicorns, maybe followed by Pantheon are the true unicorns in the space that are going to be our first billion-dollar, you know, companies, in Word Press only.

And I think they’re the first of what we’re going to see as many in the future. Because I think once the lid in the ceiling is broken and we have a company go public, it’s going to change the dynamic of the investment in the Word Press space, startups in the Word Press space. There are already a lot of entrepreneurial people, but I would say that there’s there. And there are a lot of startups, but there are not a lot of venture-funded startups. You know, the Elementor, the Convesios, these type of people that are funded with millions of dollars in funding behind them, they’re few and far between. And so I think you’re going to see a lot of that more VC money pouring into the market. We’re already seeing, it’ll look at strata, right. And Elementor is a great example led by, you know, the Bay area, tier-one VC.

Jonathan Denwood: I think, I think for the next two to four years possibly interesting times. I don’t think anybody can really tell how this is gonna play out but it’s kinda-

Tom Fanelli: But I will tell you though the segue, there is one of the other things that I wrote you about, you know, there are two metrics really important on how this will play out. And I think that the big thing is growth. Okay. I mean, Word Press by 2025 is going to be a 50% market share. They expect. And Google just said that their cloud business, which is 13 billion in revenue now, they think it’s going to triple over the next 5 years, which is like, they think is going to get to $760 billion. That is astronomical. Okay.

And so what is driving all of that? Well, one of the things driving, it was what Digital Ocean said in their, S1 filing for their IPO, which is what they expect in the next-, this number’s a little hazy where there are like 19 million developers right now. They expect in the next five or 10 years not to beat 49 million, I think was the number they gave. So developers are gonna more than double cloud infrastructure spending is going to triple, I mean, this is all real. And Word Press is going to have hopefully 50% market share. These are great things for people in the Word Press space.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, I think, yeah, I don’t think it’s-, the reason [Inaudible27:09] a little bit is that there are, I can see exactly your point of view and I’m not disputing the facts that you’ve brought in, in front of me. I think one of the things that I’ve found a bit frustrating, and I’ve been very public about it tom but, I’ve tried to be constructive about it, but I wasn’t prepared to modify my comments is I’ve been very frustrated with Gutenberg, and the whole it just seems to, I actually, I actually, wasn’t critical of my position on Gutenberg as a necessity for page builder because I could understand totally that it was required and the market required it so much better that it comes from automatic than allowing the likes of Wix or square space just to keep increasing their market share.

But I have been a bit aghast at the slowness of getting Gutenberg finished and ending up with a product that is the equivalent of square space. But on the other hand, it’s been pointed out to somebody that I’m not dealing with a platform that’s running almost 30 to 40% of all websites out there and all the legacy codes that are required to try and these, two companies that I mentioned, they’re not having to deal with that, are they?

Tom Fanelli: Right. And, you know, look, I mean, I know I feel this way too, but, everybody wants for me, for my company and for where everyone wants everyone to move faster and develop faster and, you know, get to market the features that we really sort of need now. And, it’s challenging. And so there’s a whole other vector of challenge there, which is Word Press does, I think, better than anyone, which is the nature of it being open source. And so that’ another, you know, point that the Wixes and the Squarespace and, by the way, Squarespace just got valued at $10 billion.

[Interposed talking29:36]

I mean, they just raised three or 400 million last week. I think they announced it. And, they’re valued at $10 billion. So that’s a, you know, a DECA corn, not a unicorn.
So it’s insane. And that you know, the other part of this too, is that the valuations in the space are going up and up and, so yeah I do hear your frustration with Gutenberg I, you know, when I was at the last word camp US, I really saw for the first time I kind of had this premonition of Gutenberg is the future. And it’s like, there’s- this is clearly, they’re going all-in on this with, you know, there’s a big vision behind it. And so it really does feel like at this point, it’s this unstoppable thing. Although there are a lot of people in my circle, agency circles are just never going to give up, you know, Elementor oxygen BeaverBuilder and all the tools that they love to build sites.

So I do think that a Gutenberg is going to be one of these things that we’ll have to wait and see how it gets traction. It’s amazing. It’s amazing how people are so anti-Gutenberg though, you know, there’s.

Jonathan Denwood: I suppose I’ve come across a bit like that. And it is unfortunate because I’m really not actually, but I can understand why people get that slight impression when they listen to, especially the round table show, but in my heart, I’m not really, at all actually, I totally understand. I think one of the other factors Tom is I think they also took over woo commerce. And I think just taking on one WOO commerce on its own was an enormous project. But taking that on WOO commerce plus Gutenberg at the same time has really stretched automatic a lot almost I wouldn’t say to breakpoint, but take taking on both of those projects at the same time. And in some ways, I’m not criticizing them because unfortunately, I think they were right. They probably had to take both on at the same time. But they are both enormous projects

Tom Fanelli: You are forgetting about one other huge, enormous project that they took on Tumblr. If there was one thing I wasn’t quite sure of whether it was happening. I was like, w w what’s going on here? And so I would much rather I’d love to see, I don’t know what the plan is for Tumblr. I haven’t been able to figure that quite out yet. I mean, I’ve heard what they’ve articulated as the plan, but, you know, it’s one of these things where it’s like, man it bothers me when I see people moving to Shopify from WOO commerce. And I see Shopify growing at the rate that it’s growing and cannibalizing WOO commerce, you know, customers and at the least, I guess, you know, the worst, it’s like winning people over from Woo Commerce and they’re converting, but at the least, it’s like there were all these people that wanted to get online and wanted an easy way to do it and Woo Commerce or Shopify scooped them up because Woo Commerce didn’t have a really good, easy way to just set up a store and get to transacting unless you knew Word Press really well. And that was a massive missed opportunity, I think for either Word Press Automatic or Woo Commerce.

Jonathan Denwood: That’s great you’re okay to keep on going for a little while by this concept, but we gonna wrap up the podcast part of the show. I like to keep it to around about 30 minutes for the podcast part. So Tom, what’s the best way for people to find out more about yourself and your company?

Tom Fanelli: Yeah, sure. So you can go to convesio.com, C O N V E S I O. That’s actually a combination of container, vessel, and IO. Yeah. So Convesio you can go to convesio.com. You can hit me up on LinkedIn, Tom Fanelli, and, I’m on Twitter T Fanelli or Convesio on Twitter as well. And, we’d love to chat and you can also email me too @[email protected]

Jonathan Denwood: He’s very approachable folks, which some people aren’t but I think Tom he’s very approachable. Before we wrap up the podcast about the show Folks, I want to tell you about a free webinar. Me and Spencer Forum a regular on my round table show is doing on April the 9th we always do these webinars, on the second Friday of the month. And it’ll be at 10:30 Pacific standard time, 10:30 AM. And we’re going to be talking about using the power of Word Press to build funnels and a funnel system that’s the equivalent of click funnels or Shopify at a fraction of the price. And we’ll be going through all the plugins and all the steps that you need to build these modern funnels for your clients. And we will be showing you practically how to do it live, and you can watch that live on the WP tonic YouTube channel.

You can register by going to the WP tonic website. There’s a button on the main navigation that says webinar, and you can, then I’ll be taken to a page and you just click a button to register, and it will tell you through YouTube when we’re going live its free folks. So please join us. We will be back next week with another great guest and another great discussion we’ll see you soon folks and keep with us for the bonus content see you soon bye

Every Friday at 8:30: am PST we have a great and hard-hitting round-table show with a group of WordPress developers, online business owners, and WordPress junkies where we discuss the latest and most interesting WordPress and online articles/stories of the week. You can also watch the show LIVE every Friday at 8:30 am PST on our Facebook WP-Tonic Show page. https://www.facebook.com/wptonic/

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