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We Asked, Matt Answered – WordPress and Windows Azure Explained

We Asked, Matt Answered – WordPress and Windows Azure Explained

Update: Here’s the  link to Matt’s post at the WordPress Publishers Blog explaining his appearance on stage at the PDC.

When I asked a couple of days ago why Matt Mullenweg was in Microsoft’s PDC, I was never really expecting Matt to read my post and answer the question. Back then, it was just reported that he was called onstage by Microsoft’s Ray Oozie but what he talked about was not reported yet then.

A good fellow that he is, Matt was kind enough to leave a comment on my post and posted the link to the transcript of what transpired during the PDC, particularly on what he talked about.

The transcript is very long so, lazy that I am I just scanned through the document until I found Matt’s part of the show.

Matt demonstrated an example of a WordPress blog running on Azure on the background. The point of the demonstration was to show how multiple blogs can handle traffic surges whenever a blog post gets an unprecedented spike.

And the implication? – WordPress  can be adopted by businesses as part of their Azure applications. Come to think of it, WordPress being an open-source CMS doesn’t get that much acceptance in the corporate environment. Putting it as part of Azure’s computing products can pave the way for application of WordPress in corporate intranets.

Anyway, before I misinterpret Matt’s reason for showing up at the PDC, here’s the full transcript of what he talked about.

MATT MULLENWEG: Good morning, everybody!

Do we have any WordPress users here in the audience? Nice! Thank you, thank you.

I’m very excited to be here. Just to give you a little bit about my timeline, about six years ago, as a 19-year old poly-sci student, I started working on an Open Source GPL, PHP and MySQL project named WordPress. About four years ago, I founded a company called Automattic to bring WordPress to the masses, which was done to about 200 million people with

Then about a month ago, I get a phone call from a guy named Jeff Sandquist, and he says, Matt, remember that thing I told you would never happen, and I said, what’s that? And he said, we’re going to have MySQL, PHP, and Apache support on Windows Azure.

So, I looked outside, peaked out the window, made sure there were no pigs, and I said, well, get me out there, I’d love to show this. So, that’s what we’re going to be showing you right now.

As you can see, right here on the Azure back-end, and we have a production WordPress blog here. So, I can click on it, and you will see the beautiful big blue header, everything that you’ve come to know and love about WordPress blogs.

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But as you know, blogs are no more longer about just personal publishing, they’re being used for big news sites, they’re being used to cover everything. And so sometimes you get varied traffic.

So, as you can see, we have a MySQL and an Apache instance here. Let’s say my blog gets on Slashdot or Channel 9 or Digg or something like that, and we need to scale it up. We go right here in this beautiful XML file and change it from one instance in Apache to — how many should I go to, a hundred, a thousand? I don’t know a thousand to do that.

So, you can put it however you like, though. You just click the button, and that will take you all the way back, it will reload, it will deploy the instances, bring up all the machines, deploy the virtual machines, everything like that, and instantly add it to the load balancer and you have a fully scaled WordPress.

Now, what’s interesting a few months ago, because we had the election cycle in the United States, and we hosted about 10 million blogs at the time. So, we were seeing all range of really some of the biggest traffic we’d ever seen to blogs.

There were two blogs that were at the very top. One was CNN Political Ticker. It had deep, insightful analysis, really talking about the future of the free world was in the hands, hung in the balance in this election. And then on the other side we had a blog with pictures of cats and funny captions, battling every day for top traffic. I’m not joking.

So, to show you one of the engineers behind the other biggest blog, WordPress blog in the world, I wanted to invite out Martin Cron, who is one of the engineers behind I Can Has Cheezburger. Hey, Martin.

View Comments (5)
  • @ R – Whew! That was a long comment indeed but well worth it. Looks like you’re having fun in PNG. Maybe you should start organizing a WordPress user’s group there. Yeah, WordCamp in PNG sounds great. Thanks for the comment!

    @Zmicer – No apologies needed. It’s a free world. :-)

  • This is a great post. (as most are on blog Herald). Having spent 10 years at MSFT, one take away I had was their commitment to products that didn’t align with their mainstream goals was not long term. Whether it be set top boxes, IE for Solaris or more general products for OS X (e.g. Office which lacked support for DOCX for almost 2 years), the track record has been there. The support gets dropped when the profitability doesn’t pan out. Azure is not a profitable part of Microsoft at the moment and unless LAMP support becomes profitable quick, it could be the next in line. Do you see the LAMP community rushing to Azure? Still, I’ll be the first to admit that the above is just FUD on my part. My concern is the over marketing of clouds.

    Matt’s comments about hitting the front page of Digg and you just touch a button and all problems are solved. What are the compute overages? Does it just solve the problem? Who is doing this?

    At HostCo we took a real world data drive approach to this and cracked the code for VPS configurations that could take simultaneous front pages from both Digg and Redit and predictable and affordable pricing. Picchore.Com saw 210K visitors in 10 hours on a commodity VPS. No fancy fabrics, load balancing, or other things that become unstable and break. To be fair, we also tested on a “cloud” and not only broke it but got a huge bill from the overages.

    Congrats to Matt for getting on MS’s radar screen. Also, congrats in meeting Ray Ozzie. He is truly one of the greatest software minds in the business and you have truly achieved something when he recognizes you. Still, I’m not sure that Azure is the home for self hosted WordPress.

    (blog herald write-up they did on us )

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