Hypernode 2018

What a year! Of course, we could say that about pretty much any year. But for us, it holds particularly true for 2018. In this year we achieved some major milestones, made significant decisions, dared to tackle some exciting projects and laid a foundation for the future. I’d love for you to join me on a tour of the Hypernode platform’s most important developments in 2018.

Focus on Hypernode; farewell to other hosting platforms

For us, the year 2018 was marked by focus and farewells. We chose to focus fully on Hypernode, and wished to free up a lot of people, time and energy for that complete focus in 2018. That meant bidding farewell to any other platforms we still maintained. Which were also still being used by a fairly high number of customers.

  • Phasing out of Magento Shared and Magento Dedicated Servers. Early in 2018, we ensured that any customers still on our shared servers would be able to switch to Hypernode as painlessly as possible. To that end, we provided a great many tools (plan recommendation based on usage, an automatic store importer, SSL transferal and DNS switching at the press of a button, et cetera). For the very last customers, we created a special migration team that spent weeks holed up in one of our offices with these tools, checklists and extensive tests, transferring the stores to Hypernode.
  • Phasing out of our PHP hosting platform (for Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, etc.). We migrated thousands of websites to our parent company Combell’s hosting platform. A monster project which was preceded by months of preparation, and also took months to implement.

Also important: we switched cloud providers for the Hypernode platform. We opted for the Combell OpenStack platform, which had been expanded for us, instead of DigitalOcean, and also for a partnership instead of a customer-supplier relationship. The benefits were immediately apparent:

  • Shorter lines of communication in case of issues.
  • Co-determination of hardware, platform settings and plan specifications (see below).
  • Consequently, better out-of-the-box performance for most customers.
  • One feature we created for our AWS plans in 2018, Smooth Scaling – scaling up or down in under a minute with almost no downtime, see further on in this blog – wasn’t possible with DigitalOcean due to their platform’s design. On our new platform, however, we were able to offer this immediately.
  • Snapshots: same story. So, we can now provide both the good old S3 backups and snapshots for all plans on Combell OpenStack.
  • Lower purchase costs, leaving us with more capacity to invest.

We are still keeping DigitalOcean as a backup cloud provider, though. Customers who prefer to keep their Hypernode outside the Netherlands and Belgium may stay with DigitalOcean. You can request this through our support, and we’ll move you over free of charge.

Plans that are an even closer match for your needs

From the Start plan to the Excellence plan: we’ve implemented improvements to our plans for both smaller/starter online stores and e-commerce giants, matching your requirements even more closely.

  • New Start plan in early 2018 with more memory, for a slightly higher price.
  • 3 larger plans on AWS: Excellence 4XL to 6XL. [plans & prices]
  • In May, we started using the new DigitalOcean plans. Our new pricing already took the impending migration to Combell OpenStack later that year into account. So, better specs for all plans, for less money.
  • The Professional M with 3 instead of 2 cores, at the same cost (Combell OpenStack only; there’s no DigitalOcean plan available with this option).
  • Behind the scenes, the trial is now using the Professional M plan instead of the Grow.
  • And, hot off the press (so, 2019 really): a ‘new’ Grow with 3 GB memory instead of 2 GB, at the same cost (Combell OpenStack only).  [changelog]

We responded to your true needs

Over the past years, we were asked more than once if we intended to build Hypernode clusters to meet the wishes of the larger online stores. When we delved more deeply into this segment’s actual requirements, however, we discovered that what you really needed included such items as uptime, (data) security, room to grow, flexible scaling and optimal performance. Therefore, we decided to work on those first. So, for the platform team, the first half of 2018 was marked by improving somewhat larger customers’ performance and experience (generally benefiting smaller customers as well). Some examples:

  • ‘Smooooth Scaling’ thanks to a dedicated IP [changelog] and the option to take the disk along as well instead of copying it [changelog]. Migrating in minutes instead of hours, with barely any downtime. Although we still recommend that you perform your migration in a timely fashion if you’re planning a campaign, in case of unanticipated activity levels you can now press ‘Upgrade my plan’ with much more confidence. Just for the Excellence plans at first, now for Professional plans too.
  • Multiple performance improvements for large plans:
    • More settings have now been made dynamic based on the plan size, so they’re always optimized for your store, whatever plan you may have.
    • Migrations from AWS C3 to C5 instances.
    • And much, much more; just look through the eleven pages of changelogs for 2018.
  • Very large plans with enough resources for larger stores (up to 128 cores!).

Hypernode features released in 2018

An overview of our major releases:

  • Blocking bots through the Service Panel [supportdocs]
  • fail2ban whitelist in Service Panel [changelog]
  • DKIM through the Service Panel
  • PHP 7.1 and 7.2 (PHP 5.5 phased out) [changelog]
  • HTTP2 server push support [changelog]
  • Dedicated IPs [changelog]
  • Restarting services as an app user [changelog]
  • Separate Redis instance for sessions [changelog]
  • CLI tool for various settings; Ioncube on/off, PHP change, Blackfire tokens, Varnish, whitelisting IPs, etc. [supportdocs]
  • Hypernode API [changelog]
  • Hypernode Docker for local development. Vagrant deprecated [changelog]
  • New community docs for our open source projects: community.hypernode.io
  • OpenVPN [changelog]
  • Hypernode log tool to follow the migration process from the commandline [changelog]
  • Hypernode diagnostic tool for a quick summary of basic info about your Hypernode, such as your cronjobs, PHP version, Magento version, etc. [changelog]
  • RabbitMQ [changelog]

Improved tools and processes

  • Memory management: configurable management [supportdocs] and emails for Out-Of-Memory (OOM). And, recently (2019) released: a ‘Don’t kill this process’ option. [changelog]
  • Multiple Image Optimizer improvements [such as: changelog: exclude directories]
  • Store importer:
    • Automatic handling of even more edge cases.
    • The importer in the Service Panel can now migrate SSL certificates and change the DNS too.
    • Added malware scanner for early hack detection.
  • Even more extensive log rotation [changelog]
  • We held an internal ‘Hack Hypernode’ day during which we found and resolved various security weaknesses.
  • Gazillions of tweaks to settings for:
    • Improved performance (such as handling of inactive requests, dynamic NGINX worker process count, etc.)
    • Improved priorities (such as prioritizing customer jobs over system jobs)
    • Improved stability (see OOM management)
    • Improved scalability

Compliance and security challenges

Just like all other tech companies, we have to deal with cyber security issues. These threats are always unscheduled, and/but are our number one priority. A selection of the challenges we faced in 2018:

  • Server-side protection for weaknesses that presented themselves in the course of the year: Meltdown & Spectre [read blog], MageCart zero-days [changelog], weaknesses in the Magento core (SUPEEs and M2 security updates), recognizing new hacking patterns [changelog], and recently: Adminer vulnerability [changelog].
  • For the majority of these security issues, we also created checks at MageReport.

And don’t forget data safety and security:

  • GDPR! Just like you, this caused us a lot of extra work, mainly process-related challenges.
  • We also made it through another ISO-27001 audit successfully. Hurray!

First international market forays

In 2018, we laid the foundation for our first forays onto the international market. The platform itself has been ready for a while now, of course, but we chose to start over with a clean slate for the accompanying services.

  • Starting with the new control panel. We intend to eventually provide Dutch customers with a connection to this new panel too. [all control panel changelogs]
  • Everything to the API, with customer access to the API [first changelog]
  • In addition to a control panel, a CLI tool for changes to lots and lots of settings (Varnish, IP whitelisting, PHP, etc.) [supportdocs]
  • The integration of a third-party subscription management system (Chargebee) and payment provider (Stripe) to replace our own home-built internal systems [changelog]

We look forward to another full year in 2019; full of wonderful things. However, as ever, we’ll be reserving space for your ideas and wishes too. Do you have any wishes you’d like to see fulfilled in 2019? Shoot us an email or share them on our public UserVoice, so others can vote!