10up Unveils ElasticPress.io: Elasticsearch as a Service for WordPress Sites

10up launched ElasticPress.io this week, its new Elasticsearch SaaS product with plans starting at $299/month. Elasticsearch is an open source, distributed search engine that speeds up searching by using JSON documents to store data in indices. The indices store mapping fields to the corresponding documents and the engine searches the index instead of a site’s entire database.

Elasticsearch can perform near-real-time searches and is highly scalable, but the setup is technically demanding. It is used by many large companies, such as GitHub, Soundcloud, Etsy, Netflix, Cisco, and Samsung. It is also one of the most popular enterprise search engines for WordPress sites, as searching WordPress tables with thousands or even millions of records is simply not going to be fast.

The WordPress plugin directory has a dozen plugins for using and extending Elasticsearch but 10up’s ElasticPress is by far the most popular with more than a thousand installs. After supporting the plugin for several years, along with many enterprise clients using Elasticsearch, 10up decided to create a hosted service that integrates with ElasticPress.

“The reason we created this solution for our clients, and that we’re now making this public, is that we don’t think anyone has provided a super easy, end-to-end (plugin to hosted service) that offers all of the benefits of Elasticsearch and our ElasticPress plugin, while being completely agnostic to your site hosting,” 10up founder Jake Goldman said.

ElasticPress.io is an end-to-end solution that is specifically tailored for those using the ElasticPress plugin. This is one of the key differences between managing your own Elasticsearch infrastructure with a service like AWS. ElasticPress.io controls both the hosting and the plugin, allowing the service to optimize performance for both.

“There are a number of really neat use cases for ElasticPress on our roadmap that add either risk (security) or headaches (complicated setup and management procedures) if you can’t control both ends,” Goldman said. “For instance, there are optional Elasticsearch modules (just like there are optional Apache and Nginx modules) for features like indexing media that many hosted Elastic services don’t enable by default or support. We also want to be able to index and handle content that isn’t public, and many hosted Elastic services aren’t locked down / secured end-to-end with the website by default.”

How ElasticPress.io’s Pricing Compares to Competitors

Elastic, the creators of Elasticsearch were one of the first companies to launch Elasticsearch as a service in 2012. Two years later the company raised $70 million in a Series C funding round. Dozens of other Elasticsearch as a service companies have sprouted up since then, with pricing ranging from under $20 to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the resources offered.

The ElasticPress.io service is the first of its kind in the WordPress ecosystem. Most hosting companies do not have it built into their enterprise level plans. WordPress.com VIP is one of the few that offers Elasticsearch for sites on its plans which range from $5,000 – $25,000 per month. WP Engine has an Elasticsearch solution as part of its Labs program, which is based on a fork of ElasticPress. However, the solution has not yet been officially added to the company’s enterprise plans.

For the most part, developers who have to implement Elasticsearch for a WordPress site are faced with hosting their own instance and managing it themselves. This is the most cost effective option but comes with a great deal more responsibility.

“Elasticsearch is a quickly evolving platform, and they don’t exactly have the same commitment to infinite backwards compatibility that WordPress has these days,” Goldman said. “Major Elasticsearch upgrades can break old integrations. That means the site owner needs to either worry about automatic version upgrades breaking their site, or has to manage their upgrades carefully. By controlling the integration with Elastic on the website site and controlling the hosting, we can carefully handle version upgrades for customers while making sure nothing breaks.”

10up is aiming at the higher end of the market where customers are looking for convenience and access to the creators of ElasticPress for support. Goldman anticipates many of those customers will be similar to the product’s existing customers who simply need a robust keyword search or related content engine that will “just work.” ElasticPress.io is also targeting smaller and mid-tier businesses that are experiencing performance bottlenecks with WordPress’ native query engine.

“Those customers are typically relying on rather complicated faceting / filtering of content, the classic use-case being a WooCommerce store where customers are constantly filtering on a handful of unique (unique = hard to cache) meta data all the time,” Goldman said. “That’s where ElasticPress really shines: our native WooCommerce support and optimization take those very taxing queries and makes them lightning fast.”

As the service is fairly unique in the WordPress space, ElasticPress.io’s pricing has room to evolve as 10up learns from its customers. The plans currently range from $299 – $999 per month with increasing storage space and tiered support response times. Goldman said they haven’t ruled out other pricing points and may explore more pricing options in the future.


13 responses to “10up Unveils ElasticPress.io: Elasticsearch as a Service for WordPress Sites”

  1. Ummm….Elasticsearch comes with our cloud hosting account from Digital Ocean (through Cloudways) for around $40/month.

    How the heck can anyone justify $299 (or more)? This is ridiculous.

    • I’m going to quote Patrick Mackenzie because this is one of the most important things I ever read in my career:

      “I run a couple of fairly complicated software systems, and am more a systems engineer than I am a system administrator. Case in point: I nearly lost $X00,000 last year (gulp) when I found out that my MySQL backup strategy for Appointment Reminder was not nearly as robust as I thought it was. (It worked out all right in the end, but I spent the six most stressful hours of my business life fixing things.)

      Now, I could certainly bring in a sysadmin to poke around my systems, make sure all configs were optimized, and maybe develop a Chef recipe to bring a bare metal box all the way up to the production environment. And that might well cost me $10,000. But since I am once-burned and twice-shy, what I really care about isn’t having the work done so much as it is never going through that heart attack again.

      So let’s say that there exists a service which does encrypted offsite backups (tarsnap.com). And let’s say that it is technically impressive but far, far outside the ken of mere mortals to set up. And let’s further stipulate that the founder is stark-raving mad about his pricing strategy and has decided that to ensure Appointment Reminder against $X00,000 losses should cost me, not a typo, $0.60 per month. If you, my contract sysadmin, were to say “Hey, in addition to all of this configuration tuning that I’m doing, how about I design and implement an encrypted backup strategy for you, and verify monthly that it is working correctly?”, I would OK $500/month so fast your head would spin. You could then toss Tarsnap $0.60 a month for the storage, verify monthly that it did indeed decompress into a working MySQL dump, and cut invoices while remaining my favorite sysadmin ever.”

      The full article is here: https://training.kalzumeus.com/newsletters/archive/services_vs_products

  2. You can buy hosting for $5/month from Bluehost. Yet some customers pay $15,000+/month for WordPress.com VIP hosting. Some pay $400 for a basic Chromebook; others pay $3,000+ for a high end MacBook Pro.

    The simple answer is: we’re not targeting customers who want to self manage Elasticsearch on Digital Ocean. For the customers we’re targeting, the difference between $299 and $40 / month is not that consequential, whereas knowing they have premium support that understands both sides (WordPress and Elasticsearch) and a fully managed, end-to-end solution for their WordPress site is an enormous value.

    The ElasticPress plugin – which we continue to offer for free – will still be compatible with and support your preferred $40/month plan, subsidized in part by the customers who see the value in a more premium offering.

  3. A premium service will provide better fascilities and the cost will also be higher. That is the general rule. I guess its better for already established corporate websites. Not recommended for small business or personal using.

        • I’m compelled to point out that while we’ve clearly stated that there are cheaper alternatives for generic Elasticsearch that are almost certainly a better fit for small budgets and personal use, that it is misleading to frame those as the “same thing.”

          As explained in the story, it’s like comparing enterprise managed WordPress hosting (VIP, Pagely, Enterprise WP Engine packages) to AWS or a shared Bluehost account, or comparing a Pixel or “Nexus” device to a cheap, generic Android phone.

          There are real benefits to knowing we’re 100% managing the plugin and hosting platform in harmony, and receiving premium support from a team that understands both Elastic and WordPress. Elastic is known to break compatibility with some of their updates, and – increasingly – it will be much easier to use some innovative ElasticPress modules with ElasticPress.io hosting.

          Not for everyone, but hardly an “unreasonable” proposition for our target market.

    • Hey Andreas, we’d love to hear on Github about any issues you’ve had with ElasticPress. When using ElasticPress at scale, configuring and optimizing Elasticsearch can be tricky (hence the need for the end-to-end ElasticPress.io service). We use ElasticPress on enterprise clients with over 1M posts :)


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