When we built our Premier Agent Websites, we decided at the beginning to base the product on the WordPress core. We knew we wanted to host it ourselves for ultimate control, we wanted to run bare minimal off-the-shelf plugins for security reasons, we needed it to scale it to tens and hundreds of thousands of sites, and we wanted it to be literally faster than any other provider out there. In order to meet these criteria and our high standards, we knew we had to make some smart infrastructure and architecture decisions.
We did things a bit different than what many of the current WordPress best practices recommend and many existing plugins offer, and we feel great about what we ended up with. With that in mind, we’d like to share some of our differentiating secret sauce with the WordPress community.
It All Starts With DNS
Before a user’s browser even hits a server for the initial load, an IP needs to be resolved via DNS. DNS performance is far more important (PDF) than many people realize, and this part of the infrastructure should never be glossed over without any thought.
In our case, we host nearly all of our clients’ DNS records on Amazon’s high-performance and globally-distributed Route 53 service. We allow each of our clients to host the free domain they get through us, or use one they already own, and manage the DNS for that domain on Route 53 via that API and a custom UI. We also host the DNS for our CDN domains (more on that later) on Route 53. The result is that the lookups on our clients’ domains and the CDN domains are incredibly fast!