DigitalCube Launches Shifter, Serverless Hosting for WordPress

shifter-logo

DigitalCube launched Shifter at WordCamp US today, the first serverless hosting product for WordPress. The Japanese development company specializes in WordPress and AWS integrations. Shifter was built by the same team behind the company’s Amimoto cloud hosting platform.

Shifter converts WordPress sites into a series of static HTML files and serves them up via a global CDN (AWS) for high performance hosting, eliminating the burden of software maintenance and server updates. The product targets websites that have a low frequency of updates, such as business or portfolio sites, as well as maintenance and support providers.

Shifter allows site owners to turn WordPress on or off in its administration center. The service is a hybrid of a WordPress static site generator and a hosting solution. Shifter hosts the static files it creates and allows users to connect their domains. It leaves the standard WordPress management and administration workflow intact and compiles a new version of the static files anytime users update content inside WordPress. The service starts at $30/month and offers support for unlimited sites.

Shifter dashboard
Shifter dashboard

As the first commercial product to provide serverless WordPress hosting, Shifter offers a unique way to tackle the security concerns that plague WordPress and its plugins and themes. Because the software is used by more than 27% of all websites, it has become a big target for hackers and spammers alike. Shifter’s creators see WordPress as a prime candidate for serverless architecture.

DigitalCube team members met the Philadelphia-based J2 Design company at last year’s WordCamp US and partnered with them to improve their branding, copy writing, and approach.

“At that time, we were having problems in design, branding, and communication,” product liaison Shinichi Nishikawa said. “The name ‘Amimoto’ was originally a Japanese word and was difficult for people to pronounce or remember. We saw their work and asked them if we could form a partnership.”

Together the Amimoto and J2 Design teams took the project from concept to launch in about three months. They built Shifter with AWS, Docker, and the Serverless Framework. The development team behind the project also supports and manages sites such as The Japan Times, AOL Japan, and Mazda. They frequently contribute to open source projects, including WordPress, Serverless Framework, and WP-CLI.

Shifter has exited beta and the company has launched a Kickstarter campaign with a $10,000 goal to fund future development on the project’s roadmap, including domain mapping, a way to visualize usage of bandwidth and storage, multi-factor authentication, advanced scheduling, and WP-CLI support.

13 Comments


  1. Besides getting some attention, pretty pointless. If a tech-savvy company is truly into serving static files, they wouldn’t be using WordPress in the first place. If a non-tech-savvy company is building a website, they don’t know what any of this means.

    In any regard, this has already been possible for some years by simply going into CloudFlare Page Rules and setting up “cache all” across your entire domain, effectively turning WordPress into a static site that is served purely from their CDN edge locations (100% free).

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    1. Hi Jesse, I’m Shin who work for Shifter. Thank you for your comment.

      Regarding “Cache on CDN”, I totally see your point and it was one of the most frequent questions I got from people at the WordCamp US booth conversation when presenting this idea/concept.

      If we look at the speed we get by “Caching pages on CDN” way and Shifter way, there’s not much difference. Eventually, they are served from the same kind network, so you’re right.

      But here’s the thing. The biggest difference between caching on CDN and generating HTMLs beforehand is the existence of computing. What Shifter does after generating all pages is to shut down the WordPress until you log in next time. There will be no WordPress or a server that contains the WP, PHP, or database. This can give you the ease that no one can attack your WordPress, because there’s nothing to hack.

      If a tech-savvy company is truly into serving static files, they wouldn’t be using WordPress in the first place. If a non-tech-savvy company is building a website, they don’t know what any of this means.

      This is the biggest challenge we face. I like Jekyll, Middleman and other static website generators a lot. I like the simplicity: generate, put them somewhere, and done! But unfortunately, they are not as easy to use as WordPress. One of the reasons WordPress is loved by all tech level people is that it enables everyone to have their websites by choose themes they like, add plugins to achieve their goals, and publish contents. We think it is wonderful if we can offer both the simplicity of the static site generators and the good points of WordPress at the same time.

      Thank you!

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      1. What about eCommerce websites? How will HTML pages solve their purpose like people need to login to support forum, login to their account page for downloads etc.

        Means session use.

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      2. Hi Shri, thank you for the question.

        As you can read more in other comments on this post, Shifter is simply not for dynamic things. It’s a tool and host to generate HTML files.

        If you need to use sessions, please look into other great hosts. And if you have websites that suits Shifter we are happy to help making your life easier.

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    1. Hi Ivica Delic, thank you for your comment. I will definitely look at the plugin you mentioned.

      As an additional tip, it is also possible to download generated HTML files in a zip form from Shifter. The pros of doing this with Shifter are

      – Shifter hosts the HTML files and deliver them through global CDN.
      – Free SSL certificate.
      – http2
      – Shifter can shutdown the WordPress until you reboot it. It’s safe!

      I hope this will help.

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  2. What about search and other dynamic things. This wouldn’t have a pretty niche market I think

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    1. Thank you Zac for your question. I’m Shin at Shifter. Dynamic things don’t work at all. Here’s the list of the things that don’t work.

      – Search
      – Contact forms
      – Comment
      – Any kind of AJAX requests toward your WordPress, including WP-API endpoints

      For alternative search, we recommend Search by Algolia plugin. This is great!

      For contact forms, we need to use third party forms to embed. Google form, TypeForm, or others.

      For comments, Disqus Comment System plugin, or facebook comments, and others.

      As for AJAX requests, we have no alternatives. Our concept is static ;)

      These are the limitations of Shifter, and if your projects are okay with these limits and fixes, Shifter can help your life to be easier.

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  3. And what about all of those applications that need a session to run. Very few really useful plugins create pages that can be served statically.

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    1. Hi Mike! I’m Shin who work for Shifter.

      If your site requirement is to let the users log in, Shifter cannot be your choice. Shifter is simply not for these things, such as commerce website or community websites. We want you to use it for other purposes such as archiving brochure websites, and event websites.

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  4. I like this idea. I currently host most my site with Cloudflare, cache all turned on, which makes it static but there are frequent cache misses I have noticed. Looking forward to testing it out!

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  5. I was pretty intrigued by this idea when it was explained to me at WCUS. I can certainly see some hosting scenarios and site requirements where a mostly-static site would be very beneficial.

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