Have you heard about WordPress VIP? It’s a service provided by the team that manages WordPress, offering peace of mind for your WordPress enterprise installation. Basically, it combines hosting, monitoring, malware protection and other scalability and security features for the base price of $5,000 a month. Which, according to their website, is appropriate for corporate blogs... Not for a complex installation. That will add up to $10k or $25k per month!
I guess you can best describe it in this way:
"it's really a different type of platform, and meant specifically for high-traffic sites or organizations where stability and security are the highest priorities (if those things aren't important you, of course there are plenty of cheap places to host)."
Does this quote imply that the only way to safely assure WordPress security and stability for an enterprise environment is by paying the organization that controls the source massive monthly fees? And by the way, that above quote was from the lead of the WordPress.com VIP team on a Quora post.
Why do we even bring this up? Because this is the market price of safely securing, scaling and managing a high-availability and highly sensitive enterprise WordPress installation. And why does this bother us? Because 99% of people who choose to build enterprise platforms on WordPress are not aware that this is the true value and cost of ongoing ownership. They get distracted by the selling points:
“CNN uses it!” (well, really they use it for some minor blogs)
“Time Magazine uses it!” (at a cost in the millions of dollars per year)
“It’s open source so anyone can modify it!” (or hack into it)
But in reality:
Despite having exposure to some brand name corporations, there isn’t anything that makes WordPress at all remarkable or special. It is simply the preferred tool of choice for a school of developers who never learned to build custom applications from the ground up. The above talking points provide credibility to the platform, for sure, and many less-than-reputable developers grab onto that for their own advantage.
WordPress is, without a doubt, the most prevalent CMS platform available on the internet today. It is maintained by a team of highly qualified and skilled developers, and extended by perhaps the strongest open-source community on the planet. But with scale, and with the goal of being a platform for all of humankind, WordPress has ushered in negative effects as well.
Perhaps the most troubling effect has been in regards to security. There are almost 5,000 known vulnerabilities to the platform today. This means that installations of WordPress must be constantly monitored and maintained or the possibility of compromise exists. Ensuring that your site doesn’t suffer unnecessarily is a constant struggle. And, if you extend WordPress with custom plugins or any other custom features, the updates required to maintain this level of security can prove to be problematic.
This all adds up to the point of this post.
WordPress is free, but the ongoing cost of ownership is high. There must be constant vigilance, updates and monitoring to ensure that your website is safely delivering to your end users. And with the true cost now being confirmed, is it worth it?
$5,000 per month for a blog is an annual expense of $60,000 (and doesn’t include monitoring!). Or even more excessive, WordPress VIP recommends a budget of $10,000 per month plus a $15,000 setup fee for a simple marketing or informational website. For all of that their time to respond is guaranteed at 12 hours! Add to that the cost of developing and designing your site, which they won’t do, and your two year costs to run an enterprise WordPress site is now $300,000 or more. That’s a lot for a free platform!
In fact, this isn’t even an all-encompassing technology solution.
It includes zero development support—they ask that you either have a “rockstar in-house developer” or work with one of their partners. Additionally, with that exorbitant license fee, they require you to post “Powered by WordPress.com VIP” in your website footer.
There is a better way.
Enterprise customers, and anyone else for that matter, can avoid the lack of advanced customization, the constant uncertainty of security breaches, and the excessive ongoing costs by building their platform utilizing newer content management systems and strategies. Utilization of headless CMS systems that integrate to custom front end designs can skirt most major security concerns and also allow for greater front-end flexibility.
At NP Group, our custom CMS solutions do have an initial budget premium over WordPress development. However, the lifespan of a custom CMS averages 5 or more years. With WordPress, 5 years of VIP service will cost you over $600,000. The scale of savings for the same type of site can be greater than 50%—and that includes ongoing design and development support for your website as well.
Best of all, customized approaches to content management will mean you can avoid using a platform that is already 13 years old. Of course, it’s been upgraded throughout time, but the system still holds on to old-school concepts such as pages versus posts, and having an admin interface that is intermingled with the front-end experience. Modern content management is moving in an entirely different direction.
Is WordPress VIP mandatory? Absolutely not. You can still grab the free version, modify and host it as you choose. But for those planning to use this platform on an enterprise or high-availability level, remember what the true market cost is, as offered by the folks that actually maintain the platform. There is no better indicator than that.