Interview with Head of rtCamp EasyEngine – Secret Weapon for WordPress Webmasters

One of our secret weapons for administering WordPress installations for our business clients is EasyEngine. Put simply, this is a system for making setup of new WordPress websites on self-managed servers absurdly easy.

Further points that make this awesome for WordPress webmasters:

  • it is free (thanks!)
  • instant setup of LEMP, i.e. nginx WordPress sites -- including an out-of-the-box caching setup with 4 caching options including WP Super Cache plugin
  • everything is done via command line within some very simple commands... and as could be expected there are powerful controls under the hood
  • the default setup is already optimized for security and speed best practices

This literally saves hundreds of hours of work if you are setting up WordPress sites (especially for testing / development) on your own servers on a regular basis.

EasyEngine is developed by rtCamp and their Founder & CEO Rahul Bansal has kindly offered us the following exclusive interview. 🙂

easyengine-logo-300x150px

EasyEngine allows you to set up a LAMP / LEMP server from scratch with WordPress installed and ready to go, literally in two command line instructions.

How did EasyEngine come into being?

Rahul Bansal, rtCamp Founder & CEO:
rtCamp started back in 2009 as a WordPress consultancy agency. Before rtCamp, I ran a blog network which was one of biggest in India back then.

Our own blog network made us to look for better solutions for a web server. At that time we came across Nginx.

As Nginx solved our own scaling problem, we started to offer managed wordpress-nginx hosting to our clients. Over time our managed wordpress-nginx hosting business grew and we found ourself doing repetitive tasks again and again.

We decided to automate many of tasks using bash scripts. One fine day, we packages our scripts nicely and released in open-source as project EasyEngine.

screenshot from EasyEngine homepage - the easy part, lists the two commands used to install WP; Creating a high traffic site, big enough to crash Nginx!

What kind of users is EasyEngine for?

EasyEngine was developed by our system admin team for own usage. So naturally it turned out to be helpful for other system admins.

As of now we are trying to make it developer friendly by making some common workflows easy.

Down the line, we have a plan to add REST API which will help hosting companies provision WordPress sites easily.

We are also working on a web-interface which will make power of EasyEngine accessible to end users without requiring any command-line skills.

Is this the "ultimate" LEMP setup for WordPress?

It’s an ongoing process. Last year we discovered a better solution with redis-based full page cache so we needed to do a lot more work to make it even better.

There are still many things that we need to improve. And before we settle on something else, somebody from community will point us to something new and then the process will start all over!

How come you give this away for free!

We were already generating revenue from our WordPress-Nginx managed hosting. By creating EasyEngine, we could improve our margins. So keeping EasyEngine free was not difficult.

But now as EasyEngine is growing and so are things that we can do it with, we feel short of funds at times to speed up its development.

Hence, we are working on some business plans where we can turn EasyEngine into freemium project. But rest assured, any business plan won’t take away existing features.

screenshot from easyengine homepage listing features as follows: Complete Setup Install NGINX, PHP, MySQL, Postfix and dependencies in a single command HHVM & PageSpeed Support Boost WordPress sites by enabling HHVM and PageSpeed using a single command Caching Options Use W3Total Cache, WP Super Cache & Nginx’s FastCGI Cache. Config Optimization Automatically tweaks server configuration as per available hardware resources Automatic Updates Update EasyEngine for new feature with one simple command: ee update Git-Backed Changes All config changes are saved using Git so feel free to play with config!

Could you use EasyEngine to set up static or non-WordPress-CMS sites?

EasyEngine was developed for WordPress but it can generally work with most PHP apps/frameworks with little or no changes to nginx config.

In our roadmap we have plan to support the Ghost blogging platform and some more CMS and apps like gitlab/discourse.

We are working on a package-based system. Using that other developers can create EasyEngine packages for any CMS or software or platform.

What's in the pipeline for EasyEngine?

For the command line version, we plan to add shared hosting, backup/migration feature and some magic to simplify developers' workflow.

REST API and Web Interface are two biggest related projects we hope to deliver in 2016.

As WordPress experts, what do you wish WordPress itself could improve?

There are many things that we wish to change about WordPress. Most important would be to drop support for older PHP versions, at least older than PHP 5.4. Then add support for composer and move development to git/github.

From the end-user perspective, writing flow can be further simplified. There could be clear separation between data and settings on admin side.

Can you advise WordPress webmasters on how to deal with version control in collaborative development sites?

There are some solutions emerging to version-control WordPress sites with Git. However, version control software like git are not supposed to handle binary data. That means wp-content/uploads should never be put into version control directly.

But you can manage themes, plugins and wordpress itself using git + composer. [EasyEngine article on this topic]

Currently our composer based setup itself is in review stage. Once we have it running across all our client sites, we will start working on automation using EasyEngine.

Ideally there should be specialized solution to backup source code, uploaded files and mysql database changes. I feel git makes sense for source code only.

KnowledgePower editor: MANY THANKS Rahul for your interview and also for the service you and your team are doing for webmasters globally. More power to you 🙂

 

About rtCamp, developers of EasyEngine

  • Location: Pune, India
  • Team skillset: WordPress consultants, designers, developers and system admins.
  • Main business focus: WordPress based consultancy projects and products like rtMedia and EasyEngine.
  • Clients: We work with businesses of all sizes. Our clients are typically enterprises or funded startups.
  • User base:
    EasyEngine is used on 10,000+ live sites as tracked by builtwith - http://trends.builtwith.com/framework/EasyEngine
    Our rtMedia plugin is used on 20,000+ live sites -  https://wordpress.org/plugins/buddypress-media/

PRESS CONTACT:
Rahul Bansal, rtCamp - Founder & CEO, rahul.bansal [at] rtcamp.com

Thank you for reading this non-sponsored partner interview for the KnowledgePower Digital Marketing Strategy blog. Copyright 2015 KnowledgePower Ltd.

KnowledgePower is a Digital Marketing agency in the UK specializing in PPC management for SMEs. As part of this service we offer a Webmaster service for WordPress sites.