The beta, known as Cloudways Autoscale, was opened to testers on 13 April 2023 and attracted over 900 applications.
The new hosting offering promises business owners to ‘stop worrying about traffic spikes, servers of scaling’ thanks to their automated scaling capability, targeting Ecommerce, event/booking, Elearning, influencers and publishers – any WordPress-powered website that experiences expected and unexpected spikes in traffic.
Cloudways Autonomous leverages CloudFlare Enterprise’s edge cache, Object Cache Pro and offers unlimited PHP workers.
Why the change in name?
‘Autonomous’ is not a word you come across often in hosting, if at all. ‘Autoscale’, instead, is now part of the lexicon amongst WordPress operators running high-traffic websites. It is also a better description of the platform’s capability.
Priced competitively, from USD $35/month
Plans are more in line with established Managed WordPress hosts then specialist providers offering scalable infrastructure. What may be lacking here is the same level of support and onboarding that is typically required by high-traffic websites migrating into a new hosting environment. That said, Cloudways do offer Advanced and Premium support tiers priced at USD $100 and $500 respectively, and do a great job explaining what’s in and out of scope for each level.
Overage prices, which are hard to model (and communicate) when factoring in unpredictable scaling events, seem straight forward:
What happens when I hit my plan on any of the allocated resources?
The resources continue to scale even if you hit your plan limit on any of the allocated resources and as a result your website remains up & running. You will incur small overage fees based on your additional usage: $1 per 10 GB of extra bandwidth, $1 per 1,000 additional visits, and $2 per 1 GB of extra disk space.
Outperforming the competition (but not the right competitors)
Cloudways contracted Koddrio to test Cloudways Autonomous against Kinsta and WP Engine. Results saw “Cloudways Autonomous emerged as a robust performer across various concurrency levels, showcasing reliability and speed”.
However, they should have benchmarked against existing WordPress scalable hosting providers such as Convesio and Pressable. Independent testing may well tell a different story – hopefully Cloudways will be participating in this year’s WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks.
Has Cloudways ‘democratized hosting’?
A number of hosting providers have claimed this by making Enterprise-grade infrastructure more affordable. Only a handful are promising autoscaling, which replaces, in theory, the need of complex and costly hosting set ups. The USD $35 / month entry point represents great value, considering CloudFlare Enterprise and Object Cache Pro are bundled in too.
Here’s the problem: managing large scaling events is not just about the infrastructure. Things go wrong at application level too. If your business relies on WordPress handling hundreds of transactions per hour you can’t afford not to have access to experienced devs and system administrators.
If you’re smaller scale than that, then Cloudways Autonomous looks like a better option than traditional shared and VPS hosting products. This is where the opportunity lies for Cloudways.