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Improve your Craft CMS skills

Craft CMS On Lithium Hosting - Is That A Good Idea?

10 min read
Shape April 2022 HR 45

Finding the right hosting for a Craft CMS website is critical, yet the dizzying options make choosing difficult. This article cuts through the confusion, providing invaluable insights on using Lithium's high-performance auto-scaling hosting for Craft CMS. Read on to learn the key pros, potential downsides, and considerations for making an informed decision.

Lithium's auto-scaling and performance optimization provides an excellent hosting solution for most Craft CMS websites. The platform's automated resource allocation handles traffic fluctuations effortlessly while optimized infrastructure and global CDN deliver blazing fast speeds out of the box. For sites needing maximum control, DIY servers may be preferable.

Benefits of Auto-Scaling Craft CMS Traffic with Lithium

Handling Traffic Spikes and Increased Visitors

Lithium's auto-scaling capabilities provide an invaluable solution for Craft CMS sites looking to effortlessly handle temporary or permanent spikes in traffic and increased visitors. By automatically allocating the appropriate server resources based on demand, Craft CMS sites hosted on Lithium's intelligent platform can seamlessly accommodate sudden upticks in visitors without facing downtime or performance issues.

Rather than having to manually provision additional infrastructure, Lithium's auto-scaling allows Craft sites to instantly scale to meet rising traffic levels. This on-demand flexibility ensures the site continues running smoothly and visitors enjoy a fast, reliable experience even during traffic surges from events, campaigns or unexpected popularity.

Lithium's auto-scaling is ideal for Craft sites prone to seasonal traffic fluctuations or growth phases. For example, an e-commerce site could easily handle a 100x increase in holiday shoppers or a community site could accommodate rapidly growing membership signups without missing a beat. The platform monitors traffic 24/7 and adjusts compute resources accordingly so that performance remains consistent.

By eliminating the need for complex capacity planning and manual server adjustments, Lithium's auto-scaling capabilities deliver a hands-off way to handle both gradual increases and sudden spikes in visitors to Craft CMS sites. The intelligent platform does all the heavy lifting behind the scenes to keep pages loading quickly.

Optimizing Craft CMS Speed and Performance

One of the biggest benefits of leveraging Lithium's auto-scaling for Craft CMS sites is dramatically enhanced website speed and performance. By allocating server resources based on real-time traffic demands, Lithium optimises the Craft site to deliver blazing fast performance at all times.

As traffic to the site ebbs and flows, Lithium automatically scales up or down the compute power needed to meet changing demands. Resources like CPU, memory and bandwidth are provisioned intelligently to accelerate site performance and handle the current visitor load.

For example, during low-traffic periods resources can be scaled back reducing overheads without any speed impact. When traffic ramps up during peak times, extra resources are deployed to boost performance and prevent any slowdowns.

This optimised environment eliminates sluggish loading pages by making sure the Craft CMS site has just the right amount of resources to serve its visitors quickly and efficiently at all times. Pages load faster and the experience feels more responsive overall.

Lithium also optimises Craft sites by minimising latency through its global edge network.

Intelligent caching and content delivery capabilities bring the content closer to visitors for much faster load times.

Together, the platform's auto-scaling and edge network create an optimised hosting environment uniquely tailored to accelerate Craft site performance. Visitors enjoy snappy load times and responsiveness regardless of traffic volumes.

Reducing Server and Infrastructure Costs

Auto-scaling delivers major cost reduction benefits for Craft CMS sites compared to traditional fixed-resource hosting options. By intelligently scaling infrastructure to align with actual site traffic, thanks to Lithium’s pricing, customers only pay for the resources needed at any given time.

This on-demand approach eliminates the need to perpetually over-provision resources to accommodate potential traffic spikes. With auto-scaling the Craft CMS site can scale back during quieter periods, driving significant infrastructure savings. Costs rise linearly with traffic rather than having to pay for max capacity 24/7.

Lithium's auto-scaling enables Craft site owners to optimise hosting costs in real-time based on traffic patterns and growth. Savings can quickly add up since server resources adapt to fit the current needs. Site owners don't get saddled with the financial burden of unused capacity due to inflexible or manually managed infrastructure.

For Craft CMS sites experiencing fluctuant traffic patterns, the cost benefits of auto-scaling are tremendous compared to traditional hosting. Resources scale up automatically during traffic spikes and scale back down during lulls to minimise unnecessary infrastructure expenses.

By leveraging Lithium's intelligent auto-scaling capabilities, Craft site owners gain a flexible, demand-driven hosting environment that can match needs and budget perfectly at any point. Resources are right-sized continuously without any manual intervention required.

In summary, Lithium's auto-scaling for Craft CMS empowers sites to optimise speed, performance and costs by provisioning the ideal hosting environment at every traffic level. The platform's intelligent capabilities provide flexibility and hands-off management that maximises infrastructure efficiency.

Optimizing Craft CMS Configuration on Lithium

Customizing Server Configuration

One of the advantages of Lithium's hosting platform is the ability to customize and tune the server configuration for optimal Craft CMS performance. While Lithium manages the underlying infrastructure, there are still several configuration options that can be adjusted to match the specific needs of your Craft site.

For starters, the PHP version powering the Craft CMS install can be configured to leverage the latest performance improvements and features. Lithium supports running Craft on cutting-edge PHP 8 releases for maximized speed and efficiency. Memory limits and OPcache settings can also be tuned to ensure Craft has the resources it requires.

On the web server side, options like keepalive timeout, max worker processes, and connection limits can be tweaked to enhance concurrent connection handling. For sites expecting a surge of traffic, boosting these parameters allows the web server to manage the increased demand.

Lithium also allows configuring how Craft CMS static assets are served. For high-performance delivery, assets can be hosted on Lithium's global CDN or on a dedicated subdomain. Setting up browser caching rules and compression for these static files further accelerates asset load times.

While Craft CMS handles the frontend caching, Lithium provides the ability to add a global CDN caching layer with options like cache TTLs and origin shielding for increased cache hit rates. Caching at the edge significantly speeds up overall page performance.

By leveraging Lithium's configuration flexibility, Craft site owners can fine-tune server settings at both the PHP and web server layer. This customization helps unlock maximum performance based on the specific site and traffic patterns.

Craft CMS Caching and Performance Plugins

To further optimize speed and caching, Craft CMS sites on Lithium can take advantage of powerful first-party and third-party plugins. Plugins like CE Cache provide smarter built-in caching functionality for free over Craft's standard template caching.

CE Cache delivers advanced page caching with options like database query caching to optimize backend performance. Edge logic allows defining dynamic cache variations so logged in users or those in specific geolocation receive different cached versions.

The Craft CMS Pro plugin is another excellent option, allowing Craft sites hosted on Lithium to leverage powerful frontend and backend optimizations. Templating optimizations, asset compression, image optimization and more help accelerate website performance.

At the database layer, plugins like Template Cache Warmup allow pre-caching entire site pages to eliminate initial slow loads as pages are built. This keeps the site primed for speed as if it was already under load.

Lithium's global CDN and edge caching integrate seamlessly with these plugins to provide a fully optimized caching environment. Assets and pages are cached at the server edge, close to visitors for blazing delivery speeds.

For resource intensive or complex Craft CMS sites, plugins provide customizable caching, minification, compression and code optimization functionality that’s challenging to achieve otherwise. Site owners can pick and choose the performance solutions that best meet their needs.

MySQL and Database Optimization

To ensure optimal Craft CMS performance on Lithium, database and MySQL optimization are critical to avoid slow queries. Thankfully, Lithium provides full access to MySQL settings and users to run EXPLAIN on queries and tweak indexes.

Some quick wins include ensuring Craft CMS tables utilize the InnoDB engine and enabling the query cache in my.cnf. Tweaking key buffer size, query cache limit, and table open cache all typically yield noticeable MySQL speed gains.

Database indexing is also vital for fast Craft CMS queries, especially on large tables. Adding indexes on columns frequently filtered or sorted by improves query response times. It’s also worth periodically optimizing tables to defragment data and indexes.

For complex queries, MySQL views can help pre-process data for much faster response. Optimization plugins also allow rewriting sloppier Craft queries that hit performance.

While Lithium manages securing and scaling MySQL for Craft CMS, they provide the config access so site owners can optimize MySQL settings themselves. Tweaked settings and proper indexing tailored to their data set and usage patterns allows unlocking the best database performance.

In summary, Lithium empowers optimizing Craft CMS performance through configurable servers, caching plugins and database customization for sites needing max speed. Experienced Craft developers can tap into these optimization capabilities for pages that load at lightning speed.

Mitigating Vendor Lock-in Risks with Lithium

Abstracting Infrastructure Dependencies

One effective way Lithium helps mitigate vendor lock-in for Craft CMS sites is through intelligent infrastructure abstraction via Docker containers and Kubernetes. This containerization approach decouples the Craft CMS platform from the underlying hosting environment.

By encapsulating the entire Craft CMS stack - MySQL, web server, plugins, dependencies - into a portable Docker container, it avoids becoming coupled to Lithium's proprietary infrastructure. The container provides an abstraction layer that isolates and separates Craft from the hosting platform.

This allows the Dockerized Craft CMS to be deployed seamlessly across any standard Kubernetes environment. If a site owner ever wanted to migrate from Lithium, the container makes it straightforward to move the encapsulated Craft CMS stack to any other Kubernetes hosting platform.

The Craft CMS container image maintains dependencies only on the Docker and Kubernetes runtimes. By abstracting infrastructure in this way, Lithium prevents Craft CMS sites from becoming forever tied to their unique hosting environment, removing vendor lock-in fears.

The portability empowers site owners, allowing them to avoid reliance on Lithium’s proprietary infrastructure while still leveraging its managed hosting benefits. The abstraction simplifies migrating to another platform in future by containerizing Craft CMS into an infrastructure-agnostic transportable unit.

Maintaining Backups Outside of Lithium

While Lithium fully manages securing Craft CMS backups on their infrastructure, site owners can take extra steps to avoid infrastructure lock-in risks by backing up externally as well.

Services like BackupBuddy allow automating backups of the full Craft CMS install - database, files, plugins, configuration - to a location outside of Lithium’s architecture. Storing recent backups off-platform provides an extra layer of protection and portability.

For maximum redundancy, periodic backups can be pushed to cloud storage like Amazon S3 or Google Cloud Storage. The external backup preserves the site's ability to be restored independently of Lithium infrastructure if ever needed.

Regular off-platform backups provide insurance against infrastructure lock-in by giving site owners a path to more easily reconstitute their entire Craft CMS implementation onto another hosting platform in future.

Following a strategy of containerizing Craft CMS for abstraction combined with off-platform backups delivers maximum vendor-agnostic flexibility and mitigates infrastructure lock-in risks associated with the proprietary Lithium hosting environment.

Planning Migrations to Other Platforms

Craft CMS sites wanting to maximize their independence from Lithium can also take the proactive step of planning out future migration strategies. By diagramming and documenting the steps required to migrate onto platforms like Amazon AWS, Azure or Google Cloud, sites put themselves in a better position to make the move smoothly if ever needed.

Some forward-looking preparation might include identifying target infrastructure combinations on other clouds, prototyping and performance testing migrations, and building custom tools to assist in automating portions of the transition.

By investing some time upfront in planning potential future infrastructure migrations even while happily hosted on Lithium, Craft site owners can reduce the risks and difficulties associated with extricating themselves from the platform later down the line if situations change.

Careful abstraction of infrastructure dependencies, off-platform backups, and proactive migration planning together help mitigate the vendor lock-in risks inherent with building on top of Lithium's proprietary hosting platform. With the right strategies, Craft CMS sites can confidently leverage Lithium's strengths while maintaining their independence and flexibility.

Comparing Lithium to Other Craft CMS Hosting

Managed Craft CMS Hosting Providers

When evaluating Lithium against other optimized Craft CMS hosting providers like Kinsta or Pantheon, Lithium stands out for its auto-scaling capabilities. While Kinsta and Pantheon deliver excellent performance via global CDNs and optimized server stacks, Lithium takes it further with automatic resource allocation.

Kinsta’s managed Google Cloud infrastructure and Pantheon’s finely tuned containers provide incredible optimization for Craft sites out of the box. However,Lithium’s auto-scaling architecture uniquely adapts server resources based on real-time traffic demands, keeping performance consistently fast.

This automated flexibility to adjust compute power and cache capacity based on load allows Lithium to maintain optimized efficiency at all traffic levels. Kinsta and Pantheon rely more on excess capacity planning to absorb spikes.

Ultimately, Lithium’s intelligence platform offers the best of both worlds - high performance optimized infrastructure combined with automatic scaling. For Craft CMS sites experiencing major traffic fluctations or rapid growth, Lithium delivers optimized hosting that effortlessly scales up and down as needed.

Fully Customized Servers

Another option for managed Craft CMS hosting is fully customized servers fine-tuned for maximum performance. Providers like Wiredcraft offer bespoke servers tailored at the OS, web server and database tier specifically for Craft CMS's needs.

This specialized tuning delivers excellent optimization, however lacks Lithium's flexibility to adapt server resources based on traffic patterns. Custom servers provide high fixed performance, but without the ability to scale efficiently. Lithium's auto-scaling combines optimization with automated flexibility.

The one advantage of fully customized servers is the ability to tweak the stack specifically for unique Craft CMS configurations. However, Lithium still allows deep customization within its auto-scaling platform. For most uses cases, Lithium's intelligent scaling outperforms specialized fixed-resource servers.

Cloud Infrastructure Alternatives

Comparing Lithium to general cloud infrastructure platforms like AWS, Google Cloud and Azure, Lithium simplifies auto-scaling Craft CMS through its managed service. While the underlying clouds also provide auto-scaling capabilities, optimizing and implementing auto-scaling requires significant DevOps expertise.

Lithium abstracts away the infrastructure complexity, delivering auto-scaling Craft CMS hosting without needing cloud architecture skills. Their expertise in optimization and scaling allows Sites to leverage the benefits without the hassle.

However, for organizations with deep cloud skills, the flexibility and customization of DIY infrastructure on AWS/Google/Azure can outweigh utilizing Lithium's simplified managed service. The ability to fully customize every infrastructure layer provides ultimate tuning potential.

In summary, Lithium's unique blend of optimized performance and automated scaling provides a compelling advantage over most other Craft CMS hosting options. Only highly advanced custom cloud architectures exceed Lithium's capabilities for the majority of use cases.

Key Considerations for Craft CMS on Lithium

Speed vs Control Tradeoffs

One key consideration with Lithium is weighing the benefits of automatic scaling against having less control over server configuration. Lithium's managed infrastructure and auto-scaling provides a major speed advantage out of the box. However, there is less ability to customize servers compared to fully self-managed hosting.

Site owners gain the advantage of Lithium handling all the scaling complexity automatically. But it means relying on Lithium's configurations rather than being able to tweak every server parameter themselves.

For most use cases, the speed and ease of auto-scaling outweighs the need for granular control. Lithium provides options to customize within its recommended configurations for common optimizations. However, those requiring tailored control down to the Linux kernel may prefer self-managed servers.

Ultimately Lithium delivers a well-balanced approach, providing auto-scaling speed while still allowing Customization of PHP settings, web server options, MySQL configs and more. For the majority of sites, this strikes the right balance between convenience and control.

Performance vs Plugin Compatibility

Another consideration with Lithium is balancing the performance advantages against potential limitations regarding Craft plugin compatibility. Lithium's auto-scaling and edge caching capabilities provide incredible speeds. However, some complex plugins may require tweaks to run optimally.

Being a managed host focused on high-performance, Lithium has tighter restrictions on external tools that could impact scaling or security. Plugin authors will need to adhere to Lithium's guidance to ensure broad compatibility.

In practice though, most widely-used Craft plugins will integrate seamlessly with Lithium hosting. The high-performance environment offsets the small chance of incompatibilities. Lithium's expertise can also help resolve plugin conflicts if they occur.

For sites relying on niche complex plugins, self-managed hosting may offer more flexibility. But for most use cases, Lithium's speed and security outweighs minor plugin tradeoffs.

Automatic Scaling vs Manual Optimization

When evaluating Lithium, Craft CMS site owners should assess whether the benefits of automatic scaling outweigh their ability to meticulously optimize servers themselves. Lithium reduces hosting management time enormously by auto-scaling rather than requiring manual resource provisioning.

However, hands-on Linux and MySQL experts may wish to hand tune every configuration parameter, server resource allocation and database query. While Lithium still allows optimization within its platform, those wanting total control may prefer managing servers directly.

The choice depends on one's expertise. Most will benefit more from Lithium's auto-scaling capabilities handling optimizations automatically rather than getting bogged down in manual server tweaking. But advanced developers may find the control tradeoff worthwhile to wring out every last bit of performance through custom configurations.

Neither choice is inherently better - it comes down to weighing convenience vs control for one's specific use case. Lithium reduces hosting management overheads substantially for the vast majority of Craft CMS sites through its intelligent auto-scaling and performance optimization.

If you need any help with Craft CMS, get in touch! For more guidance, check out our FAQs.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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