Speaking at WordCamp SF 2011

My sessions for WordCamp San Francisco 2011 have been confirmed. This post is a quick teaser. Please let me know if you have any questions on what will be covered, or if you have any suggestions:

Scaling, Servers, and Deploys — Oh My!

Alternate title: First Thing, Second Thing, and Oxford Commas — Em Dash! 🙂

If you manage professional WordPress-powered sites, this is going to be an invaluable presentation for you. If you’re a cowboy coder, this presentation is a mandatory WordPress-ordered intervention. (And if you don’t know what cowboy coding is, you probably do it, and don’t even know you need help.)

I’ve worked with a lot of WordPress installations for professional sites in my client work. They inevitably fall short in some way. What is usually the case is that the people in charge of running the installation feel that instead of them having control of the environment, they are merely present in the environment. Deployments that were meant to be scalable are often somewhat less so, in practice. Tell me if this conversation sounds familiar:

“What happens if we outgrow one server?”
“We’ll just add another one!”

That’s easy to say as a hypothetical. But what if you actually had to do it? What if a couple hundred thousand unexpected page views started coming your way and your boss/client tells you “Go ahead and add that second server we’ve been talking about… how many minutes is that going to take?” Did you think “no sweat,” or did your heart start racing just imagining the scenario?

I’m going to disclose the secret sauce. I’ll let you in on everything I’ve learned in the last seven years about how to code and architect WordPress-powered sites, how to scale up a single server, how to manage multiple servers, and how to deploy code in a way that is both responsive and prudent.

Topics will include:

  • Apache
  • nginx
  • Memcached
  • MySQL
  • APC
  • NFS
  • rsync
  • Git
  • Puppet
  • Capistrano

And more. At the end you’ll feel confident that you can run professional, fast, scalable WordPress installations that will make your job easier and your clients or boss happy.

Security Showdown

Instead of my battle-worn and (even to me) rather droll talk on WordPress security, I’m going to be doing an interactive panel with Brad Williams and Jon Cave. We’ll do live security reviews of some plugins that have been submitted ahead of time. This way, you can see WordPress security practices in action! There will be prizes and everything. Should be a bunch of fun.

24 thoughts on “Speaking at WordCamp SF 2011

  1. Awesome… I’m totally looking forward to it, especially they deploy part. I’m hoping it not way to advanced for me… just a lowly solo freelancer that would really love to have a way more efficient workflow that involved developing local with git, pushing with git to a bare repo and then auto-magically updating a testing server and a possibly a live server at will… On the scalability front it’d be great to cover “how to determine if you need to scale”, not just the actual implementation of scaling. I’m really looking forward to all of it… wish WC lasted a whole week.

  2. Fantastic! The ease of ability to port / create new environments and merge the results back into a single repository to deploy to a production system is one of the features that Red Dot / Interwoven scale CMS typically has as a marketing bullet point as a feature which WP cannot compete on. Will be not-so-patiently watching for your talk to make it onto wordpress.tv as validation that is not actually the case.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Really looking forward to seeing someone like yourself break down some best practices on scaling. Are you going to do any provider based material or do you find that information transcends hosts? We work with Amazon, Media Temple, RackSpace, etc. and are always trying out cloud styled solutions. We’d love any suggestions you could share.

    1. It’ll be host agnostic. I have to work with clients who have bare metal setups, Amazon EC2 setups, Rackspace Cloud setups, etc. I like general solutions that are highly provider-independent.

  4. I hope that there will be a video released following. Your talk is something I am definitely interesting in hearing

  5. These types of discussions don’t come often and it’s sure to be a treat.

    Very excited to see the security piece. All brilliant WordPress minds in your own right, but damn, that’s a hell of a team!

    Definitely looking forward to it, Mark.


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  8. I just saw your talk video and I wanted to follow up on two things:

    – You mentioned you cut out the Varnish content due to time constraints. Do you have a resource you could provide which has similar content? Or failing that, do you plan on talking about it on a post here?

    – In the Q&A, the concept of an upgrade script/routine was mentioned to propagate local widget (and other) changes to the production server(s). Is there a resource that you could provide which talks more about that? I’m a bit of a newbie, so I’m not completely sure how you map admin actions to a programmatic recipe unless you are doing something like a database delta of sorts. Would like to know the best practice way of doing that. To me, this is akin to Rails migrations, but in that case, it always starts programmatically.

    – Lastly, the index.php in your ideal git repo structure won’t work for multisite. Do you have an alternative ideal for those cases? Or, why not move to a structure that works for both?


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