Serverless PHP is a new exciting technology that has the potential to remove a lot of the burden of hosting PHP applications. One type of application that has the most to gain from serverless PHP is WordPress. Serverless PHP eases the burden of scaling WordPress while offering the same performance benefits that you’d get with a top tier host.
To understand how serverless PHP works with WordPress, we’ll look at the current state of the modern WordPress server architecture. This architecture has evolved a lot over the last decade. (You can read more about it here.) Gone are the days of just hosting a WordPress site with an Apache server! There’s a lot more to hosting a WordPress site now.
The good news is that hosting a serverless WordPress site looks a lot like it does with a modern WordPress server stack. The big change is that you’re going to replace a lot of the architecture components with services from a cloud provider.
Now, the services that you’ll use and how they fit together will vary from one cloud provider to another. With serverless PHP, the most popular cloud provider is AWS. That’s why we’ll focus on serverless WordPress architecture on AWS.
It’s also worth noting that this is the same architecture that you’d get using Ymir. The only difference is that Ymir takes care of managing it all for you. (That’s also why it’s a DevOps platform.) But if you don’t mind putting all the pieces together yourself or with the help of another tool (such as the serverless framework, this article will help you achieve that.
Serverless computing is a new cloud computing model centred on Functions as a Service (FaaS). A serverless PHP application is simply a PHP application that runs on one of those serverless computing platforms. But what’s so special about it, and why is there interest in using it instead of a regular server for PHP?
There are a lot of different hosting services. You can pay for a server on DigitalOcean or some other some other cloud provider. This is often the cheapest option, but then you have a server to manage.
If you don’t want to do that, you can use a Platform as a Service (PaaS) like Heroku. You tell them how big of a server you want and they take care of the rest. On your end, you just need to deploy your code and that’s it. WordPress hosting works similarly.
While platforms as a service help you worry less about your server, they don’t completely remove all server issues. You still have to wonder if you can handle spikes in traffic. That’s because most of these services won’t scale automatically to handle these scenarios.
Serverless computing offers a solution to this problem. It distills your cloud computing needs to its barest essence. Your cloud provider will run your code on-demand and only charge you for that.
This lets you only pay for what you use. (If your site receives no traffic, you pay nothing.) This architecture also lets you scale infinitely. In fact, serverless computing can scale to handle thousands of visitors almost instantly.
This is a transformative change for all programming languages. But even more so for PHP, since it’s a language uniquely positioned to leverage the benefits of serverless. Let’s explore why that is.
Serverless computing isn’t discussed much in the WordPress community. But it has the potential to transform how WordPress sites scale and perform.
No WordPress platform has more to gain from serverless computing than WooCommerce. Hosting a WooCommerce site comes with unique challenges that you don’t have when hosting a regular WordPress site. That’s why a lot of managed WordPress hosting companies started to offer dedicated WooCommerce hosting.
Serverless is the perfect technological solution to tackle those challenges. That’s why you’ll probably start hearing more and more about it.
One of the major challenges of using Ymir to host a WordPress site on AWS Lambda is estimating cost. AWS uses usage-based pricing for a lot of its services. This makes calculating the cost of hosting a WordPress site on AWS challenging.
I’ve been running my personal site on AWS Lambda for a few months now. This has given me a few months of data on the cost of host a WordPress site using Ymir. While this is just one example, it’s still an excellent opportunity to look at the real world cost of using AWS Lambda to host a WordPress site.