TL; DR: Instead of optimizing existing infrastructure to better serve Magento store owners, Byte designed and constructed an entirely new platform. As one of the leading managed hosting providers in the Netherlands, Byte created Hypernode to galvanize systems integrators and development agencies to build and operate highly performant and secure Magento shops. The company serves 99.99% uptime to more than 2,000 online stores using its cloud-based platform. The team’s motivated approach to continuous integration and delivery energizes customers who regularly enjoy new features, performance upgrades, and security patches — as well as modern, successful online businesses.
After almost 20 years of cultivating a following in the Netherlands around high-speed managed hosting, Byte is now bringing its signature product to the rest of the world.
Hypernode optimizes Magento eCommerce experiences for developers, systems integrators, agencies, entrepreneurs, and consumers by delivering a cloud-agnostic platform that emphasizes speed, security, and cutting-edge technology. The company goes beyond traditional application optimizations to build Hypernode entirely around Magento processes and workflows, according to Head of Product Folkje Lips.
“Hypernode’s most important tenet is probably our level of standardization, which means really fast development, always being the first to apply new security patches, high levels of automation, and great support and documentation for customers,” she said.
Just recently at 2018’s MagentoLive Europe conference in Barcelona, Hypernode began rolling out around the globe. As Folkje told us, the mid-sized company is now taking on bilingual support, extending its operating hours, introducing new payment methods, opening overseas offices, and employing remote workers.
“It’s a big change for the organization. We’ve always been a very flexible company, and this is now really paying off,” she said. “We’re very excited to be able to serve international customers and see our long-time aspiration come to fruition.”
Hypernode and High-Performance Magento Hosting
Like many hosting providers, Byte’s founders started with a shared server, a dorm room, and a vision two decades ago. Byte originally focused on PHP hosting but quickly identified a nuanced, challenging segment in 2008 with the initial release of Magento, an open-source eCommerce platform written in the programming language.
“Byte was one of the first hosters to understand the value of Magento,” Folkje said. “We also understood that Magento, being quite resource-hungry, would require special hosting attention.”
The company initially released an optimized Magento platform on its shared and dedicated servers before deciding to invest in constructing a cloud-based or single-tenant environment that could be deployed in any datacenter.
“We were one of the first managed hosting providers to decouple cloud hardware from software and to include tooling for customers,” Folkje said.
The service, Hypernode, vaulted Byte to the forefront of managed Magento hosting. The company is the first and only host in the Benelux Union of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to be named a Select Technology Partner by Magento.
Instead of focusing on simple installations and caching tools, Hypernode runs in virtualized and isolated environments equipped with exactly the right mix of software, monitoring services, and development tools.
“Because we can assume that all Hypernodes are the same, and they all work with Magento, optimizing is actually really easy,” Folkje said. “This doesn’t mean that you as a customer can’t touch or change your Hypernode, though. Despite the fact we’re offering a Managed solution Magento developers like working with our product because we give them quite a lot of freedom to add, do, restart, change things themselves. It’s the basic configuration that’s always the same.”
Standardization and Automation Keep Hypernode Ahead
As hosting follows the path of the internet and electricity in becoming increasingly commoditized, hosting providers are rushing to differentiate themselves, Folkje said. With hardware costs relatively low and standard uptime guarantees fairly easy to accomplish, lowering prices is one route many hosts take — but not Byte.
“We decided not to get involved in this price war,” she said. “We deliver high quality, we invest in security, performance, tooling, and support. So, we’re not the cheapest hoster out there, but we are definitely one of the best.”
By constructing Hypernode with the emphasis on forward-thinking technologies like automation, SSD storage, caching, HTTP/2, NGINX, and a content delivery network, the company enables online business owners to capitalize on the all-important speed metrics that drive so many conversions.
“Low page times are increasingly important for customers in eCommerce,” Folkje said. “That gave us a competitive head start, as we were already focused on performance from the very beginning. Hypernode is very fast. Now you see other hosters are improving their speed, too. I think customers benefit from this competition: Who can shave off the most milliseconds, while safeguarding stability and security?”
Beyond the shortened page load times, Hypernode’s performance-minded development approach speeds up and improves user experience and deployment time. New features can quickly be implemented across the entire Hypernode ecosystem, no matter how developers have customized the various Magento shops. Folkje estimated Hypernode saves developers several hours per week, per store.
“The standardization gives us the freedom to do performance tweaks that are quite bold and won’t be done by providers that have more variables to worry about,” she said. “If we see something operational that can be automated, chances are high we will. In return, our development team frees up time to spend on nice features to improve the platform.”
Proactively Helping Entrepreneurs Check Their Store’s Security
Hypernode balances a business owner’s need for speed with proactive and robust security tools. In February 2015, the company’s developers exposed a remote code execution vulnerability in Magento that enabled attackers to gain admin access to stores.
“Investing money in the prevention of hacks — patching and updating your shop, hosting with a secure party — was not top of mind with most entrepreneurs,” Folkje said. “Despite international media coverage and a decent amount of turmoil in the international security community, we observed quite some negligence from more than 98,000 Magento shops that still weren’t patched two months later.”
Worried about the implications of store owners’ lack of awareness or knowledge about online security, the company launched MageReport.com to give users a free service that quickly and intuitively provides insights into how a particular store holds up against known Magento vulnerabilities.
Folkje estimates that about 25% of the shops coming to Hypernode have malware. The platform comes with MageReport Premium, which combines the security oversight with performance recommendations.
“Next to the security checks that we have on MageReport, it has performance checks, charts, and data about how your Magento application behaves on your server,” she said. “It’s great for pinpointing performance issues in your shop.”
The Company’s Beginnings, Culture, and Customer Connections
Even with its rich and specialized history with Magento hosting, Folkje said the company’s internal culture holds true to its Dutch roots.
“We don’t like to boast or exaggerate,” she said. “We don’t like to overpromise. What you see is what you get. We won’t promise you anything we can’t deliver.”
“For instance, our sales people are trained to be consultants and sparring partners for potential customers,” Folkje said. “It’s in their job description to onboard happy customers. They’re not judged on the number of customers they close. Instead, we like surprising customers with unexpected extras. We consider ourselves to be a real partner to development agencies and see their customers and merchants as our joint responsibility.”
As such, customers can have a direct influence on Hypernode’s roadmap by contributing ideas and opinions on Hypernode UserVoice. Folkje said that many new features and optimizations often come from customer support tickets, meaning a wide variety of employees work together to shape product development.
“We cherish the fact that good decisions can come from anywhere,” she said. “No one is right all the time or has all the answers. This, in turn, leads to happy employees who really have a voice and a meaningful impact on the company and its direction.”