Load Testing the CloudWays Managed WordPress Service

At the beginning of December Kernl launched the closed beta of it’s WordPress load testing service. As a test to shake out any bugs we’ve decided to run a blog series load testing managed WordPress services. Today we’re going to talk about the CloudWays managed WordPress service. In particular, CloudWays deployed to Vultr.

How is the platform judged?

Cloudways will be tested using 3 different load tests:

  • The Baseline – This is a 200 concurrent user, 10 minutes, 2 user/s ramp up test from San Francisco. This test is used to verify the test configuration and to make sure that Cloudways doesn’t go belly-up before we get started 🙂
  • The Sustained Traffic Test – This test is for 2000 concurrent users, ramps up at 2 users/s, from San Francisco, for 2 hours. The sustained traffic test represents a realistic load for a high traffic site.
  • The Traffic Spike Test – This test is intentionally brutal. It simulates 20000 concurrent users, ramps up at 10 users/s, from San Francisco, for 1 hour. It represents the sort of traffic pattern you might see if a Twitter celebrity shared a link to your blog.

What CloudWays plan was used?

For this test we used the lowest tier plan available while hosting on Vultr. The cost of the plan is $11 / month and includes full SSH access to the box that CloudWays deploys your WordPress instance on.

CloudWays $11 / month plan hosted on Vultr
Selected CloudWays Plan

Where does the traffic originate?

The traffic for this load test originates in Digital Ocean‘s SFO2 (San Francisco) data center. The Vultr server lives in their Seattle data center.

The baseline load test

200 concurrent users, 2 users / s ramp up, 10 minutes, SFO

The baseline WordPress load test that we did with CloudWays is used to test configuration. CloudWays performed well on this test. You can see from the request graph that we settled in at around 25 requests / second.

CloudWays BaseLine Load Test Requests
CloudWays Baseline Test – Requests per second

The failure graph for the baseline load test was empty, which is generally expected for the baseline test.

CloudWays BaseLine Load Test Failures
CloudWays Baseline Test – Failures

Finally the request distribution graph for the baseline test. You can see that 99% of the requests finished in ~200ms. There was at least one outlier at the ~5000ms mark, but this isn’t uncommon for load tests.

CloudWays BaseLine Load Test Response Time Distribution
CloudWays Baseline – Response Time Distribution

The sustained heavy traffic load test

2000 concurrent users, 2 users / s ramp up, 2 hours, SFO

The sustained traffic load test represents what a WordPress site with high readership might look like day over day.  The CloudWays setup responded quite well for the hardware that it was on.

CloudWays Sustained Heavy Traffic Load Test - Requests
CloudWays Sustained Load Test – Requests

You can see that performance was great for the first 10% of the test. The CloudWays setup had no trouble handling the load thrown at it. However once we started getting to around 85 requests / second the hardware had trouble keeping up with the request volume. You can see from the choppy behavior of request graph that the Varnish server which sits in front of WordPress was starting to get overwhelmed by the request volume. Considering that this particular CloudWays plan was deployed to a low-level Vultr VM, this performance isn’t bad at all.

The failure graph was a little disappointing, but not unexpected knowing the hardware that we tested on. It is very likely that if we tested on a more robust underlying Vultr box we would have had much better results. You can see that failures increased in a fairly linear rate through the whole load test.

CloudWays Sustained Heavy Traffic Load Test - Failures
CloudWays Sustained Load Test – Failures

The final graph for this test is the response distribution graph. This graph shows you for a given percentage of requests how many milliseconds they took to complete. In this case CloudWays didn’t perform great, but once again I’ll point to the fact that the underlying Vultr hardware isn’t that robust.

CloudWays Sustained Heavy Traffic Load Test - Response Time Distribution
CloudWays Sustained Load Test – Response time distribution

From the graph you can see that 99% of requests completed in ~95 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly. You can interpret this graph as you like but taking the other graphs into consideration you can see that Varnish and the underlying Vultr hardware were completely overwhelmed. Knowing that makes this a little less terrible. We suspect that a smaller load test (maybe 750 concurrent users?) might yield a far better response time distribution. Once a server becomes overwhelmed the response time distribution tends to go in a bad direction.

The traffic spike load test

20000 concurrent users, 10 users / s ramp up, 1 hour, SFO

Given what we know about the sustained traffic load test your expectations for how this test went are probably spot on. CloudWays did as good as can be expected with how the underlying hardware is allocated, but you would likely need to upgrade to a much larger plan to handle this level of traffic. We ended up stopping this load test after about 30 minutes due to the increased failure rate.

CloudWays Traffic Spike Load Test - Requests
CloudWays Traffic Spike Load Test – Requests per Second

The requests per second never really leveled out. It isn’t clear what the underlying reason was for the uneven level at the top of the graph. Regardless, top-end performance was similar to the sustained traffic test.

The failure chart looks as we expected it to. After a certain point we start to see increased failure rates. They continue up and to the right in a mostly linear fashion.

CloudWays Traffic Spike Load Test - Failures
CloudWays Traffic Spike Load Test – Requests per Second

The response time distribution is really bad for this test.

CloudWays Traffic Spike Load Test - Response Time Distribution
CloudWays Traffic Spike Load Test – Response Time Distribution

As you can see 80% of the requests finished in < 50s which means that 20% of the requests took longer than that. The 99% mark was only reached after > 200s, at which point the user is likely long gone.

Conclusions

For $11 / month the CloudWays managed WordPress installation did a great job, but there are better performers out there in the same price range (GoDaddy for instance). For the sake of this review which only looks at raw performance, CloudWays probably isn’t the best choice. But if you’re looking for good-enough performance with extreme flexibility then you would be hard pressed to find a better provider.

Want to run load tests against your own WordPress sites? Sign up for Kernl now!

Load Testing GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Service

Earlier this December Kernl launched a closed beta of our WordPress load testing service. As part of that beta we’ve decided to run a series of load tests against some of the common managed WordPress hosting services.

GoDaddy was chosen as our first load test target for a few different reasons:

  • GoDaddy has been around for ages.
  • They offer a managed WordPress platform
  • They are fairly inexpensive for the service that they are offering.

How will providers be judged?

There are a number of different ways to judge a WordPress hosting provider. How reliable are they? Do they perform patches for you? What is their customer support like? How fast are they? For the purpose of our tests we’re focusing on raw speed under heavy load. We will only be judging the hosting providers on that metric. To test the speed of the hosting provider under heavy load we ran 3 tests:

  • The Small Test – 200 users, for 10 minutes, ramping up at a rate of 2 users per second. We did this test to check our configuration before we ran more intense load tests.
  • The Sustained Traffic Test – 2000 users, for 2 hours, ramping up at a rate of 2 users per second. This test was performed to see how GoDaddy’s WordPress hosting would perform under a sustained heavy load.
  • The Traffic Spike Test – 20000 users, for 1 hour, ramping up at a rate of 10 users per second. This test was used to determine how GoDaddy would handle lots of traffic coming in at once versus the slower ramp up of the sustained traffic test.

There was no configuration or tweaking done on the GoDaddy WordPress install. We simply imported the content of http://www.re-cycledair.com and started testing.

The GoDaddy WordPress Plan

An important part of this load test was which GoDaddy WordPress hosting plan was selected. As we’re going to try and do this across multiple different providers we’ve opted to go for plans based roughly on price. This plan was the “Deluxe Managed WordPress” plan that costs $12.99 / month.

GoDaddy WordPress Deluxe plan

Load Test Location

For these three load tests we generated traffic out of Digital Ocean’s SFO2 (San Francisco, CA, United States) data center.

The Small Test

200 concurrent users, 10 minutes, 2 user / sec ramp up, San Francisco

The requests graph represents the number of requests per second that the site under load is serving successfully. From the graph below, you can see that GoDaddy had no problem serving 200 concurrent users. After the ramp up completed things settled in at around 25 requests / second.

GoDaddy load testing - requests
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 200 concurrent users

The failure graph shows that during this load test there weren’t any reported failures.

GoDaddy load testing - failures
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 200 concurrent users

The final graph of the 200 concurrent user small test is the distribution graph. This is probably the most important part of these tests because it helps you understand what your end user experience will be like when your site is under heavy load.

GoDaddy load testing - distribution
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 200 concurrent users

To understand the graph select a column. We’ll look at the 99% column. Now read the value of the column (~600ms). You can now say that for this load test 99% of all requests finished in under 600ms. If you look at the 95% column you can see that the results are ~200ms which is pretty fantastic. The 100% column is almost always an outlier, but even in this case having 1% of requests finish between 500ms – 2200ms seems ok.

The Sustained Traffic Test

2000 concurrent users, 2 hours, 2 user / sec ramp up, San Francisco

The requests graph for the sustained traffic test yielded a nice curve. The traffic ended up leveling out at 252 requests / second. The transition along the curve was smooth and there weren’t any obvious pain points for request throughput during the test.

GoDaddy load testing - requests
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 2000 concurrent users

The failure graph for this set of tests is particularly interesting. About 10 minutes into the test we see a HUGE spike in errors. After a short period of time the errors stop accumulating. I’m not sure what happened here, but I suspect that some sort of scaling event was triggered in GoDaddy’s infrastructure. After the scaling event completed they were able to continue serving traffic. We didn’t see any more errors for the rest of the test.

GoDaddy load testing - failures
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 2000 concurrent users

For the distribution graph of this load test I would argue that GoDaddy performed very well under some fairly intense load. 99% of requests were finished in 460ms. There is obviously an issue with that other 1%, but that was likely due to the weird error event that happened at around the 10 minute mark.

GoDaddy load testing - distribution
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 2000 concurrent users

Overall GoDaddy performed far better than I expected on the sustained traffic test. I personally haven’t used GoDaddy as a WordPress host in ages, but for this one metric (performance under load) I think they really did a great job.

The Traffic Spike Test

20000 concurrent users, 1 hour, 10 user / sec ramp up, San Francisco

The traffic spike test is absolutely brutal but is definitely the kind of traffic you can expect if you had an article or site shared by a Twitter celebrity with a large following.

The requests graph for this test is by far my favorite out of this entire article. It shows linear growth with no slowing down. For reasons highlighted later I killed this test at ~10 minute mark, but up until that point GoDaddy was a rocket ship. At the point I stopped the test we were running at 483 requests / second.

GoDaddy load testing - requests
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 20000 concurrent users

The failure graph for this test is interesting as well. You can see that all was well until about 9 minutes in when errors increased sharply. I could have continued the load test but chose to stop it at this point due to the increased error rates. In hind sight I should have continued the test. Next time!

GoDaddy load testing - failures
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 20000 concurrent users

The most impressive aspect of the traffic spike test was the distribution chart. Even under some incredibly high load (for a WordPress site), GoDaddy was still returned 99% of requests in under 500ms. Great work team GoDaddy!

GoDaddy load testing - distribution
GoDaddy WordPress Hosting – 20000 concurrent users

Conclusions

For the single metric of speed and responsiveness under heavy load I think that GoDaddy’s managed WordPress solution did a fantastic job of handling the load that the Kernl WordPress load testing tool was throwing at it. If you have a site with really high traffic, GoDaddy should be on your list of hosts to check out.

Want to run load tests against your own WordPress sites? Sign up for Kernl now!