A good web host should be like ambient music. If you’re busy doing other things then it’s a soothing background tone, never intruding, always consistent. If you care to look closer, there should be things worth looking at.
I’ve been hosting websites with Brixly for three months now and if great web hosting is based on a combination of good, fast and affordable, then Brixly are in the ballpark. But how good is Brixly once you’ve signed up?
We caught up with CEO Dennis Nind in the middle of a huge migration project that will improve the UK Infrastructure. I have 14 sites to migrate, he has nearly quarter of a million! He was happy to make time to chat and we covered a lot of ground. Including 5 characteristics of great hosting, what the qualities of good support staff are and the value of innovation.
5 Characteristics of Great Hosting
Reliability is not just about uptime, though if advertised uptime is any less than 99% you should look elsewhere immediately. Brixly claim 99.9% guaranteed uptime.
Reliability is achieved by forward thinking, well tested modern infrastructure, sound backup policy (including offsite) and a software stack that offers speed and security.
A decent measure of speed is TTFB (Time to first byte) this literally measures the time it takes from request to response. Many things play into this measurement, your content management system for one and it can vary from minute to minute, but if a site delivers consistently slow TTFB then look elsewhere or use a CDN.
A site we recently migrated to Brixly using the notoriously slow Divi theme and a shedload of plugins was loading in around 5 seconds. We stripped the plugins out and replaced them with our own favoured stack. No more Jetspeed! We installed the LiteSpeed plugin instead of WPRocket and had QUIC.cloud convert images to WebP instead of Imagify. Not that there is anything wrong with Imagify and WPRocket, we just decided that since we were using LiteSpeed server (Brixly use LiteSpeed Enterprise Web Server as their default) we would be better using products LiteSpeed officially integrate with.
The result was an instantaneous improvement to a TTFB of 0.6 seconds. Litespeed is simply the fastest web server out there at the moment.
For another example, check out my SEO Case Study – we shaved a full second off the load time of my Photography site including the Hero Image.
Brixly describe themselves as
Enthusiasts, developers, sysdevs and geeks, with an obsession for site speed.Brixly.uk
Everyone needs to interact with support at some point, even experts. I’ve been around hosting for 15 years and I’m still learning the ropes!
Now this is an important point. Brixly are focused primarily on the reseller market in which a company like Helter Skelter Digital resells web space as part of their own offering. In which case the reseller is the first point of support.
When we started to migrate sites to Brixly, we needed to engage with support on a couple of occasions. In each case they engaged very quickly, went beyond the scope of technical support to explain our options clearly and in one instance we had Dennis Nind, the CEO engage directly, no fuss, no fanfare, just resolving a problem for us. It wasn’t a particularly serious problem but it told me that they really do live up to their own description.
Speaking to Dennis, he told me that Brixly set out. to employ senior support staff with backgrounds in development. It shows.
Details like this make support stellar.
Brixly tick all the boxes for us.
What does this mean to us as resellers? Well, it means we can offer clients a range of services with dedicated resources at each stage. So the entry level reseller account provides 20 cPanel accounts, 50Gb Storage and 2 cores/2Gb RAM per cPanel. If I start to feel the squeeze I can upgrade to Unlimited storage with up to 250 cPanel accounts.
For every client, we can allocate space within our limits. And we can set up the security, backups, Staging and SSL etc for them so that we can be confident they are getting the best possible start.
WHM allows us to offer our own branded billing, support and client management interface.
Brixly like to innovate. This is what geeks do! One of the most notable innovations they have made is the cPanel migration tool. This makes it possible to migrate an entire cPanel account to Brixly seamlessly – Dennis tells me it’s been used 35,000 times with each reseller account containing multiple cPanel clients. For those of us who still experience butterflies when accessing a recently migrated website, this scale is very impressive.
Brixly are reasonably priced. At the time of writing, an entry level reseller account is priced at £9.95 per moth + VAT. Compare that to Siteground’s nearest equivalent deal “Grow Big” that offers 20Gb Storage and unlimited sites. After the first year that come in at £19.95 + VAT.
offers 10 Domains with 50 Gb NVMe Storage, 4 cores and 4GB RAM for £14.95 per month + VAT.
1 Core – £10 per month, with 30Gb storage, 1Gb RAM
Dual Core – £23 per month, with 60 Gb storage and 4Gb RAM
Quad Core – £38, with 100 Gb storage and 6Gb RAM.
Compare this to Cloudways, where your entry level VPS with Digital Ocean costs $10 a month with 1 Core, 25 Gb Storage and 1Gb RAM – slightly less cost for a lot less storage.
Infrastructure as a Service is the means by which Brixly stay on top of the fast moving world of bare metal. Brixly are not resellers, they manage their own hardware in Data Centre space leased from IaaS providers. This is an important distinction from say Cloudways where they act as middlemen between their client and a choice of Digital Ocean, Vultr etc etc. The reason it is significant is support.
Brixly are across their server domain in a way that Cloudways are not. with Brixly if I run into problems that I cannot solve I can be confident that the support team can be over it like a rash within minutes and will not refer me to some other provider. That is massive in the same way that spare oxygen is massive to a deep sea diver. You may never need it, but if you do it’s the difference between losing a client and keeping them.
Even better, the new UK infrastructure will be directly managed at hypervisor level by Brixly. Which means any machine outage will be addressed directly and immediately.
UK Cloud Infrastructure Upgrades
Dedicated Cloud Infrastructure
This replaces the existing UK infrastructure. A new platform, designed and built from the ground up. The migration has been in planning for 18 months. Thorough doesn’t begin to describe it.
Contention is competition for resources between different accounts on the same infrastructure. A system will only ever be as good as it’s tightest bottleneck.
It’s commonly believed that large servers with massive resources perform better than small ones. This is not strictly true. Smaller machines, with less contention / accounts can deliver significantly higher performance.
The plan is to build a much larger number of ‘smaller’ machines, each of which will host a smaller number of accounts (approximately 50% less accounts per-node than our current platform).
Pure NVMe Storage Cluster
The new private cloud environment will be built on a huge array of pure Enterprise Grade NVMe storage, as opposed to SSD drives.
In terms of per-disk performance, the difference is phenomenal with faster sequential read / write speeds and a considerable uplift in IOPS.
The drives themselves are U2 formfactor, hot swappable devices, which can be added / removed to the cluster with 0 interruption to service.
This is going to be fast! But there’s more…
AMD EPYC™ CPU
The new cloud infrastructure is powered by AMD EPYC™ Enterprise Grade CPUs throughout, delivering an impressive level of power and performance per core.
How impressive? The new CPUs will introduce a 300% uplift in memory bandwidth, allowing much faster RAM handling overall, along with a heavily increased clock-speed per CPU core.
The new CPUs will allow users to achieve much higher per-core performance for their websites and applications.
Data Replication, Clustering and Failover
Self-healing capability, auto-failover and triple-replication of data. Never say never, but the chances of a power outage taking out your website are vanishingly small.
The new storage solution is not based on a ‘SAN’ type environment, but instead a hyper-converged storage cluster between hypervisor / compute nodes. This allows Brixly to infinitely scale the storage platform as demand and requirements grow, without disruption to the virtual machines running on the cluster.
The physical servers are interlinked with 80Gbps of connectivity, yet physically isolated from each other within different racks of the data center.
This means that in the event of an entire rack outage, the virtual machines which host client websites will failover immediately to one of the remaining servers / racks without disruption, or degradation to service or performance.
Increased Network Capacity
Currently, each of the dedicated servers in the UK infrastructure runs a single 1Gbps public port, which is used to serve traffic / general bandwidth, and backups.
The new cloud platform boasts a 20Gbps public connectivity per-node, along with 80Gbps interconnectivity between the hypervisors.
In addition, there is a direct 100Gbps link from London to the Data Center in Frankfurt, which is used for backups and snapshots.
This huge uplift in network connectivity will bring faster site loading times, massively increased bandwidth capacity and drastically improved backup performance.
All machines within the private cloud will be provisioned using the latest stable and secure release of Cloudlinux 8 which will run the 4.18 Cloudlinux / LVE kernel.
Improved DNS Clustering
Brixly are relocating UK based nameservers from Coventry / Maidenhead, to London to improve latency and performance.
Improved BackUp Performance
As a result of the improvements introduced by the increased network capacity, and the use of smaller machines, the backup performance for individual accounts will be improved and as a new state of fallback, every virtual machine will itself be backed up weekly so there will be an additional recovery point for the whole machine.
How Good is Brixly?
This is exciting stuff. Brixly are leading where others are content to sit back and squeeze their assets.
My previous experience in hosting has been mixed. My first web site was hosted by UK2 about whom I shall make no comment. Siteground followed. They are good, but expensive. We are quite demanding, check out our article over at Helter Skelter Digital – “How to choose the best web hosting” to see the detailed breakdown of what we think “good” looks like.
The Brixly experience so far has been excellent. I’m one of those painful customers who likes to understand the technology and I’ve found Brixly’s team to be good natured, helpful and knowledgeable. I’d definitely recommend them, if not to a total novice, definitely to resellers IT professionals and anyone who is comfortable setting up a website form scratch.
10/10 Top Web Hosts!
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