This is a Magento hosting review for Nexcess Hosting. Savy readers will recall, Nexcess sponsored my last Free Magento Hosting competition by giving away one year of free hosting on their entry level plan.
For this review I’ll be looking at the latest offering from Nexcess, the Magento SIP platform. This is a purpose built ecommerce hosting environment that is both secure and optimized. In this review I’ll look at what that security means, and also be running some tests for performance. I have a demo Magento SIP environment set up that you can try, to see for yourself how fast it is.
If you can’t be bothered reading the review below, my bottom line is; if you are prepared to spend the money, this is the fastest, most convenient Magento hosting solution I have seen to date, get it here.
The Magento SIP includes a pre-installed, pre-configured Magento, with an optimized MySQL database and optionally an optimized webserver (on the more expensive plans), the amount of initial effort this environment will save you (or time and money it’ll save you in hiring a developer to do it!) goes a long way towards justifying the price.
Security for an ecommerce store is important (obviously), but particularly so once you start getting serious. If you are processing credit cards through your own merchant account with Magento or any ecommerce platform, chances are you know about the PCI compliance rigmarole. When you’re small enough to be under the radar (so to speak) you can do a self audit, which means your security won’t come under scrutiny unless you get hit with some serious fraud.
I won’t bore you with the details, but PCI compliance can be costly and time consuming. One of the major benefits that I can see with the Nexcess Magento SIP patform, you get PCI compliance out-of-the-box.
The other security option which they enforce is firewalled SSH access, which means that you won’t be able to login with SSH until you have provided your IP address. Remeber though, it can be a mighty pain if your internet connection isn’t static when trying to access the server with SSH.
Optimizing Magento is something that I know a lot of people are interested in at the moment. I have personally spent a great deal of time an energy tweaking Magento with the goal of making my Magento stores run faster, and I know that speed is an often mentioned criticism of the Magento platform. I was a little wary when Nexcess told me their SIP’s were optimised, knowing it can be hard to do I was doubtful there would be much a hosting company would do to help. I was quite suprised reading up on the SIP for this review to see a full list of optimizations for Magento that looked like everything I have tried and plenty of things I’m going to try now.
Reeling off a sundry list of optimizations and tweaks for Magento is one thing, but actually offering a high-performance store is something else. So to put the environment to the test you can try the demo environment I used for this review. The demo Magento SIP is available here.
My testing results are summarized below, basically I use several freely available web tools when looking at how a site performs. The first check is to see how well the host provides a low latency connection globally. If your store is only aimed at one country, then this might be less relevant to you. I used just-ping.com for this test, the results you can see here.
The results were satisfactory, only New Zealand and South Africa were particularly high, which means everyone else gets a very snappy response from the site. Being way down here in NZ is a great test for a site, and despite the 220ms response time, the page loads stil feel snappy, which is great testament to the quality o the setup. For comparison you could look at the results for google.com, which I usually consider to the the benchmark for high performance, low latency connections.
For those wondering about the higher than usual packet loss from Nexcess, this is a result of firewall rules that filter ICMP packets. It’s a protection against ping flooding/probing that hosts often use.
On top of the ping test is WatchMouse which tests the page load speed. I have included a couple of screenshots of these results below, again most sites globally load the page in under a second, a few just over. That’s excellent response for a webstore.
You can actually navigate around the store and try it for yourself, the page loads are snappy and responsive.
I have no hesitation saying the Nexcess Magento SIP is an impressive hosting environment. Starting at around $25, it’s much more expensive than the entry level hosting, but I have no doubts that Nexcess have put the work in to make this a fast, secure platform for running Magento stores globally that justifies their price tag.
Bonus Point Question (for making it this far): What is it with hosting companies and those cheesy stock photos of people? If someone can post a link to a hosting company that does not (on any page) include a lame stock photo, I’ll make it a dofollow link for you!