CLOSED: Managed WordPress Web Hosting

The Office of Open Data & Digital Transformation (ODDT) is exploring managed web hosting services for alpha.phila.gov, a WordPress site with a custom theme and plugins,  being built to serve as City Government’s primary website platform.

ODDT collaborates with departments, the public, and other stakeholders—employing human-centered design methods—to make City services more accessible and understandable. Chief among our initiatives is alpha.phila.gov, which is an effort to clarify the City’s main digital service channel. Alpha.phila.gov is a prototype being built in the open alongside the current phila.gov.

Alpha.phila.gov already has an advanced hosting setup that uses GitHub, Travis CI, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). In moving to a web hosting provider, we would hope to outsource the infrastructure setup and gain the comfort of knowing reliability, performance, and security are being looked after 24/7.

There are several things about our current setup that we really like, such as the ability to:

  • Create multiple development environments on-demand
  • Rapidly deploy code to production by merging a pull request on GitHub
  • Access development and production environments via SSH and use tools like wp-cli to update WordPress and its plugins
  • Use an SSL certificate with HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) enabled
  • Define custom URL rewrites on the web server layer (ie. alpha.phila.gov/trashday maps to https://cityofphiladelphia.github.io/trashday – we use nginx)
  • Easily clear the cache from the WordPress interface (we use nginx with a plugin)
  • Separate static files (media) from the code (we use S3)
  • Store copies of the open source WordPress plugins we use alongside our code (known as “vendoring”)
  • Use paid/premium plugins not found in the WordPress plugin repository (we store them in S3)
  • Schedule daily database backups

We’d prefer to keep those abilities with a managed solution, but (a) we’re open to better ideas, and (b) we understand there may be tradeoffs. Beyond those, we hope a managed solution would provide:

  • A way to monitor system health
  • A way to split test (A/B test) code in production
  • 24/7 support (even if an issue turns out to be our fault)
  • The ability to withstand higher-than usual traffic (say, if the Pope comes to town)
  • Denial of service attack mitigation
  • Quick assistance if our site is compromised by an attack
  • It would be great if we could also deploy other WordPress sites on the platform

A few other details that may be helpful:

  • We anticipate a significant traffic increase at the end of September, so we’d like to be up and running at least a few weeks before that
  • As more content is migrated to alpha.phila.gov, we eventually anticipate roughly 3 million page views per month on average, with higher traffic during special events and such, of course.
  • A more detailed rundown of our current setup and deploy process is available here
  • The repo we use for version control and deployment is available here
  • We use SwiftType and Google Custom Search for search
  • The contracting vehicle we’re using doesn’t allow us to spend more than $32,000 in a given year

Responding

Please send a brief proposal to tim.wisniewski@phila.gov no later than Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 at 9:00 am ET. Proposals should include:

  • A bit about who you are and your qualifications
  • What you’re offering
  • How/whether it differs from our current setup/expectations, and what the migration process would look like
  • Cost (options are great)
  • Timeline of getting up and running

Questions

Post any questions as a comment below this solicitation on bigideasphl.com so that additional information will be available for all potential submitters to review. Any questions sent via email will be directed back to the comments section on bigideasphl.com.

 

Posted in Infrastructure
5 comments on “CLOSED: Managed WordPress Web Hosting
  1. clearyt1 says:

    You mentioned the contracting vehicle allow a spend of more than $32,000 annually. Is this amount inclusive of the AWS and related cloud resources, or is this allotment just for the cost of managed services?

    • clearyt1 says:

      Sorry meant to say: You mentioned the contracting vehicle “does not” allow a spend of more than $32,000 annually.

      • twisniewski says:

        Hi clearyt1,
        The rules around the contracting vehicle apply to the vendor, the department, and the fiscal year. From a “rules” perspective, technically that means we could pay for AWS separately and consider this contract to be for just the “managed services” using our AWS environment. You are welcome to submit a proposal that recommends that. Of course we’d prefer the underlying infrastructure costs be contained in the same agreement and budget, in the same way that we prefer a lower-cost solution, but we’re happy to consider the tradeoffs.

  2. twisniewski says:

    We received a question via email:

    > Just so I’m clear, are you looking to keep your current infrastructure and have someone maintain it or are you looking to migrate to a fully managed hosting provider? I believe it’s the latter, but wanted to confirm.

    We wrote the solicitation assuming the latter – that we’d be migrating it to a fully-managed hosting provider, but I don’t think we even considered the former. It would certainly ease the migration process as there wouldn’t be any! We’re certainly open to discussing it if that’s what you’re thinking of proposing.

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