Hold on to your hats, because this post is going to extend my personal “geek quotient” a bit and may for you as well. As you read, keep in mind I’m a teacher and school technology director, not a full time coder or web developer. I’m sharing this post to document my own learning curve today for future reference, and in case this information and these links are helpful to others.
I currently pay the web hosting company Site5.com a hefty chunk of monthly change to host about 35 different WordPress websites. I use and update a few of these regularly, but most of them are either for non-profits or are for sites I rarely change and few people access. I pay for a VPS (virtual private server) which gives me a fixed amount of storage space and bandwidth per month. I manage and update these websites primarily using cPanel, which is a graphical user interface provided by many website hosts so customers don’t have to use command line / console / terminal commands to make changes to their remote files and websites. I’ve used some multi-site management tools in the past for keeping my sites updated and patched, but don’t currently use any. This can be a pain and can get time consuming.
Last week I visited with Ben Wilkoff (@bhwilkoff) about different WordPress hosting options, and he told me about the Google Cloud Platform. Like Amazon’s Cloud Services, Google has built a scalable and affordable option for web as well as application developers to host different kinds of content online. I have hosted all my podcasts (probably around 700 episodes) on Amazon S3 for several years, and that has proven to be an extremely cost-effective option rather than saving those files on my main web hosting account. For more background about this, see my January 2014 post, “Why I Switched My WordPress Web Host from WP Engine to Site5.”
My wife and I made some plans last week when we were camping on vacation which involve a new WordPress website, so today I thought I’d give the Google Cloud Platform a try. Rather than use these WordPress installation instructions, which involve some command line configurations, Ben directed me to the web service Bitnami and these instructions for using “Bitnami Launchpad for Google Cloud Platform.”
— Ben Wilkoff (@bhwilkoff) July 10, 2016
I followed those instructions and was able to register with the Google Cloud Platform, register with Bitnami, and install WordPress on a dynamic / ethereal IP address. That’s the default IP address which is initially used with this setup. It works fine, but the IP address of your actual site changes each time the server is restarted. This isn’t a problem for test sites, but definitely isn’t the configuration you want for a site that will be in “production” or in use publicly by others.
Earlier in the day I registered the domain I want to use for this new project using a separate domain name registrar. After I had my new WordPress installation setup, I used these instructions to request/configure a static IP address with Google Cloud Services for my WordPress installation instance. I was then able to login to my domain name registrar and “point” my domain to that IP address by changing the “A Record.”
Google provides a 60 day trial with $300 of “free virtual money” to use on any web application or site you want to configure on their Google Cloud Platform. After that period, fees apply and you’ll pay for the virtual resources which are consumed/utilized for your projects. I setup my WordPress site today as a “micro-site,” so the estimated costs are about $4.43 per month. That is MUCH less than I’d pay if I was setting this up on a new, bottom tier account with a traditional web hosting company.
I’m not completely sure I’m going to leave this new website on this Google Cloud Platform / Bitnami installation setup, but I’m going to give it a try for at least 60 days. If I need to migrate the website over to my current web host / VPS account, I’ll probably use the free WordPress plugin “All-in-One WP Migration” to do that.
Have you had positive or negative experiences hosting WordPress websites on Google Cloud Platform via Bitnami or another service/host? Depending on your situation and “geek quotient” this may be a good option to consider, from a cost as well as performance standpoint.
Many thanks to Ben Wilkoff for pointing me toward Google Cloud Platform and Bitnami. If you don’t follow him yet on Twitter (@bhwilkoff) you should! Also check out his amazing video presentation for the 2014 K-12 Online Conference: “6 Second Stories for Learning.” Ben is not only wicked-smart when it comes to educational technology, he’s also one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet!
Thank you Ben Wilkoff!
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