WordPress.com Outages Don’t Scare Me

When I launched this new blog site the other day, one of the topics that I had in mind to write more extensively about was why I chose to switch from personal WordPress.org installation to a WordPress.com hosted account.  Little did I realize that a great launching-point post would be available today that hit close to home.

I made the decision to switch to a WordPress.com account less than 24 hours after WordPress.com took it right on the chin with a very public outage.  I knew about the downtime through a variety of sources coming through my Twitter stream, and made the switch anyway.  Bob Warfield’s post on Enterprise Irregulars crossed my plate repeatedly as well.

Then the real kicker came through over the weekend, from my own boss, Clint Oram, on the CRM Outsiders blog.

Full disclosure here… I work for SugarCRM, I report directly to Clint, and I’ve worked with him closely for most of the past five years.  I respect the hell out of Clint, and I firmly believe in the Sugar Open Cloud model that we’ve built up at SugarCRM.  I’m not going to argue multi-tenant versus multi-instance — Clint already covered that in great detail.

I will, though, talk about some of the similarities between WordPress and SugarCRM, in their various forms.  OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: The content of the rest of this article represent my personal views, and are not necessarily the views of my employer.  I’m writing on behalf of myself, not my employer.

I’m not going to bore you with the history of WordPress or the background of Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com), or with the SugarCRM story.  You’re on the Internet… look it up yourself.

I first crossed paths with the WordPress open source software project prior to my knowledge of SugarCRM (the company or the open source software project).  Installing and messing around with WordPress was what gave my first in-depth introduction to a PHP application, in fact.  Learning how to run the software effectively, how to modify it for my needs, and how to extend it with plug-ins and my own customizations was a key factor in my joining SugarCRM in the first place.

I loved the idea of a piece of software that I could run on my own, peel back the covers and bend explicitly to my wishes, rather than me having to conform to what the software developers who created the product forced me to do.  Even back then, WordPress had a large community of people who were designing new themes and building plug-ins, not to mention providing some fantastic support to other users.

By the time Automattic started up and launched WordPress.com, I was working for SugarCRM and was now quite familiar with the concept of:

A) A commercial entity that is providing much of the development work on an open source project;


B) A hosted version of an open source project.

SugarCRM’s model is not exactly the same as the WordPress model, but there are so many similarities that it’s hard for me to not think of the two applications as distant cousins.  Unlike most other commercial open source or SaaS companies that I interact with on a professional level, WordPress as an application is one that I’ve used for my own personal use for years.  There’s more emotional investment there for me.  I’m rooting for Automattic and for the WordPress open source project.

Back to my original topic, though… if I like WordPress’s open source version, and I’m aware of the recent WordPress.com downtime, and I believe in SugarCRM’s Open Cloud strategy, why in the world would I make the jump to WordPress.com less than 24 hours after an outage that affected 11.2 million blogs?

It’s simple, really.  WordPress.com has had their major disaster, and you can bet the farm that they won’t let something like this happen again.  For a free service that’s been around for years and handles the traffic that they do, to only have one other significant outage prior to this is pretty remarkable.  I’m looking squarely at you and your Fail Whale, Twitter.

WordPress is still a terrific blogging application, easy to use, easy to set up, with  millions of blogs hosted and who knows how many more out in the world running locally.  I can run this blog on their service with the confidence that I can always go back to running the open source version if I ever lose my faith in Automattic.  If they screw me up, then I have a backup strategy that I’m 100% comfortable falling back to.  I have less confidence in my ability to run their software, which is why I’m entrusting my blog to the experts as the first option.

There may come a day when I want to move my blog back to a self-hosted WordPress installation.  Maybe I’ll be concerned about my data. Maybe I’ll want more freedom in how I tweak the platform.  Maybe I’ll just get the jones to do some hacky customizations.  In any event, while some will question the multi-tenant strategy of WordPress.com, I’ll instead point to their version of the Open Cloud strategy as a core reason I’m using their service.

“If I ever lose my faith in you, there’d be nothing left for me to do…” — Sting


  1. We use WordPress for our blog and it is VERY easy to use. We are not planning to move anytime soon and I agree that the folks at WordPress will make sure that they are well on top of this issue. Thanks for the post Jason.

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