How to Scale with Enterprise WordPress: A WordPress VIP Perspective

In this episode of the WordPress Edge podcast, our host, Landon DePasquale, chats with Michael Khalili, Director of Product Marketing at WordPress VIP. The two WordPress experts discuss enterprise-level scaling with WordPress VIP, including the platform’s strengths and challenges with scaling, its approach to scaling, how to measure the value and ROI of scaling, and much more.



Introducing Michael Khalili, Director of Product Marketing at WordPress VIP

Michael's work primarily involves the intersection of product and marketing, a space familiar to many WordPress VIP customers. With nearly two decades of experience in the tech industry, spanning both prominent corporations and lesser-known startups, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. He has been with WordPress VIP for approximately two and a half years, actively developing this function and collaborating with customers to address their unique challenges in scaling enterprise websites. Michael's extensive experience positions him as an expert in scaling with WordPress VIP and enterprise WordPress.

What is WordPress VIP?

Founded by Matt Mullenweg, a WordPress project co-founder, WordPress VIP's mission is to elevate WordPress to the enterprise level. Initially focused on serving large media companies with high-scale publishing needs, WordPress VIP has since expanded its clientele to include corporate customers and those seeking to enhance their content marketing practices. Their growth has led to partnerships with government entities and major agencies, meeting the stringent security demands of enterprise-grade clients. WordPress VIP is renowned for its rock-solid platform, catering to a wide spectrum of enterprise needs in the WordPress ecosystem.

Scalability in an Enterprise WordPress Context

Scalability involves several dimensions, primarily addressing the ability to handle business growth and spikes in website traffic, ensuring reliability and optimal performance even during traffic surges. However, scalability extends beyond traffic management, encompassing support for expanding teams of content creators and marketers. WordPress excels in this regard due to its user-friendly nature, facilitating team expansion without extensive training needs. Scalability also pertains to managing an increasing volume of content and addressing the technical challenges that come with it. Lastly, it involves scaling the number of digital properties and diverse customer experiences offered by enterprises. This comprehensive perspective underscores the significance of scalability for large organizations.

Common Challenges with Enterprise WordPress

WordPress stands out in fostering the productivity of expanding teams and boasts consumer-level usability, making it highly accessible. However, it may face difficulties when scaled for enterprise needs, necessitating specific architectural considerations. Addressing traffic spikes requires technical expertise, often employing containerization to maintain performance. WordPress's plugin-rich ecosystem is a double-edged sword; while it offers flexibility, the choice of plugins demands careful consideration, as the weakest link in the tech stack can disrupt operations. Balancing the benefits and pitfalls of plugins is crucial for a smooth scaling journey, distinguishing between what suits small businesses versus enterprise-scale operations.

Another notable challenge is the need for strategic planning to accommodate dynamic growth effectively. While this is a shared concern among various platforms, WordPress, due to its origins predating certain modern technologies, may require meticulous work in areas like containerization. Overprovisioning or encountering issues can be common pitfalls if not addressed properly. WordPress VIP, for instance, has invested substantial effort in ensuring the smooth operation of its services, yet this remains a significant resource challenge, particularly for smaller companies or those navigating growth phases.

Why is Scalability Important for Enterprise Organizations?

Scalability is a crucial consideration for enterprise organizations, even if they don't face immediate issues. Michael emphasizes that proactively addressing scalability is akin to preventive measures, ensuring readiness for growth. Waiting until issues arise leads to reactive fire drills, hindering the ability to capitalize on business success. The worst-case scenario is having your website crash during a surge in traffic, transforming a potential boon into a disaster. Scalability should be integrated into the initial architecture, as bolting it on later can be painful and involve infrastructure overhauls, plugin replacements, and code rewrites. It's a critical factor from the project's outset, significantly impacting a site's long-term success and stability.

WordPress VIP's Approach to Scalability

WordPress VIP adopts a comprehensive approach to scalability by containerizing various components of the environment, including the core WordPress application and headless applications like Ninja S. This containerization facilitates auto-scaling, enabling the infrastructure to dynamically expand when traffic surges occur, ensuring uninterrupted performance during viral moments. Additionally, they address crucial but often overlooked elements like search functionality. By intercepting database queries and redirecting them to a separate enterprise search service, WordPress VIP ensures scalability without impacting the core application. These meticulous architectural considerations are layered atop the fundamental architecture of WordPress, customizing solutions to align with the unique scaling requirements of enterprises.

Value and ROI of Scaling with WordPress VIP

Measuring the value and return on investment (ROI) of scaling with WordPress VIP presents a unique challenge, as scalability often involves quantifying what didn't happen. For instance, during a Super Bowl commercial, everything running smoothly meant incremental sales and a positive ROI, but it's challenging to pinpoint what could have occurred if the site had crashed. A commissioned study by Forrester Research found a substantial ROI of 415%, but it didn't explicitly quantify scalability elements. Success stories include handling unexpected events, such as the British monarch's passing, where WordPress VIP ensured site stability and prevented revenue loss. Scalability's value lies in averting disasters that may never be known, a silent guardian of seamless operations.

Quote from Michael Khalili, Director of Product Marketing at WordPress VIP


WordPress VIP Customer Success Stories

WordPress VIP has witnessed several remarkable customer success stories showcasing their expertise in scalability. Notable examples include 538, a polling data analysis site, which smoothly handled billions of requests during the tumultuous 2020 election night without performance hiccups. Another customer, a golf course management software company, centralized thousands of golf courses within a single multi-site setup, demonstrating WordPress VIP's scalability for diverse businesses. The Democratic National Committee seamlessly shifted to a virtual convention, effectively disseminating their message amid unforeseen circumstances. Even smaller ventures, like a hyper-local London paper, managed unprecedented traffic spikes during breaking news events, reaping the rewards of WordPress VIP's robust scalability solutions.

Scale with WordPress VIP  

For companies venturing into the realm of scaling with WordPress VIP, there are crucial steps to consider. First, assess your capacity needs and then overprepare — think triple the expected load. Next, carefully evaluate the trade-off between resources and costs, as scalability may entail extra expenses leading up to peak moments. Review your current hosting solution to ensure it can handle the anticipated demands. Lastly, stress test your system rigorously to identify bottlenecks and make informed decisions about performance trade-offs. Understanding where compromises are acceptable is key. By following these steps, businesses can embark on a successful scaling journey with WordPress VIP.

Leverage Enterprise WordPress to Scale Your Business & Drive Growth

Scaling with WordPress VIP is a critical endeavor for enterprise websites. Key takeaways from this episode highlight the significance of planning for scalability from the outset, whether you're anticipating traffic spikes or unforeseen growth. WordPress VIP's approach involves containerization, auto-scaling, and meticulous architecture, addressing unique challenges and ensuring reliability. While quantifying the ROI of scaling can be complex, preventing disasters and capitalizing on opportunities are invaluable outcomes. Real-world success stories emphasize WordPress VIP's capacity to handle massive traffic and adapt to diverse business needs. For those looking to embark on a scaling journey, meticulous planning, resource assessment, and stress testing are essential steps. Explore WordPress VIP's solutions to secure your enterprise's scalability needs effectively.

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About: The WordPress Edge podcast is the ultimate destination for professionals looking to harness the power of WordPress for large-scale enterprise solutions. In each episode, our host and expert guests explore the latest techniques, tools, and strategies for optimizing and scaling WordPress to meet the demands of modern businesses. From architectural guidance to marketing insights and everything in between, The WordPress Edge covers everything you need to know to get the most out of your WordPress enterprise solution. Whether you're a business leader, marketer, or someone with a passion for WordPress, join us on The WordPress Edge as we explore the cutting edge of WordPress at scale.

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Bryan Winger is a Podcast Producer with He began his career in broadcasting back in Minnesota, producing for several radio stations and syndicated shows throughout the Twin Cities. He has over 5 years of experience in the broadcasting industry, before joining the team at He enjoys playing golf and hockey, watching football on Sundays, and producing music for fun.

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