Nowadays, businesses work hard to create an online presence by pouring tens of thousands of dollars into advertising, SEO, email marketing, content creation, and social media.

However, their efforts can hit a snag if their web hosting struggles to keep up, especially during peak periods like the holiday season. This can result in potential revenue loss and unhappy customers.

While many hosting providers claim to offer fully managed solutions, true autonomy in scaling is often missing. So, can a hosting service be truly managed if it doesn’t scale autonomously?

Well, today, we’ll review Cloudways Autonomous, a fully managed web hosting solution that autoscales with your traffic surges in a hands-off manner, allowing businesses to focus solely on their operations.

We’ll look at how it works, its features, pricing, performance comparison with other scalable solutions, and areas of improvement to help you decide if it’s worth investing in. 

What Is Cloudways Autonomous?

Well, we first heard about it on April 13th, 2023, when the beta version of Cloudways Autonomous was announced. It officially launched in January 2024, catching our attention recently.

Cloudways Autonomous is a fully managed WordPress hosting solution that auto-scales server resources based on your website’s traffic, ensuring peak performance without requiring manual intervention.

On paper, it’s built on Kubernetes (GKE) with GCP’s C2 machines and integrated enterprise CDN and database caching. This means it’s designed to offer built-in autoscaling, security, and optimized performance.

Despite having a starting price of $35 per month, Cloudways Autonomous includes premium features on every plan, such as Cloudflare’s enterprise-level edge cache and CDN, along with the Redis Object Cache Pro plugin, which enhances database performance at no extra cost.

So, now that you have an overview of what Cloudways Autonomous is all about, let’s see how it works.

How Cloudways Autonomous Works?

Cloudways Autonomous operates by utilizing Kubernetes, where your website is hosted across multiple Pods, each functioning like an individual server. These Pods can dynamically scale horizontally to accommodate fluctuations in traffic. 

Whenever there’s a surge in visitors, and your CPU and RAM usage hits a certain level, more Pods are automatically added to handle the load. This scaling process occurs rapidly, typically within seconds, and because it’s horizontal, there’s no downtime during the scaling process. 

To efficiently distribute incoming traffic across these Pods, load balancers are seamlessly integrated, ensuring your website remains responsive and accessible even during peak times. 

Additionally, Cloudflare Enterprise with Full Page Caching is automatically enabled to optimize performance and bolster security within the Cloudways environment. We really find this impressive, considering that Cloudflare Enterprise, a standalone product, can come with a hefty price tag. For example, the Business plan, a tier below Enterprise, costs $250/month.

Object Cache Pro, which costs $95/month separately, is also activated by default for free for every website, further enhancing speed and reliability.

What Features Does Cloudways Autonomous Offer?

Cloudways Autonomous offers many features for a starting price of just $35 per month. However, these features aren’t just bundled gimmicks, which we believe most appeals to SMBs.

With that said, let’s discuss some of Cloudways Autonomous’ core offerings.

Autoscaling and High Availability

Cloudways Autonomous offers Kubernetes-based autoscaling and load balancing. Kubernetes streamlines essential tasks like deploying and scaling applications to adapt to changing demands seamlessly. 

For instance, consider a popular clothing store experiencing a sudden spike in traffic during a sale. Kubernetes promptly adjusts resources to handle the increased traffic, ensuring uninterrupted access for users without compromising performance.

Unlimited PHP Workers

Cloudways Autonomous claims to offer unlimited PHP workers, which is great for dynamic and high-traffic WordPress sites. This feature enables simultaneous request processing, reducing wait times and boosting site performance, particularly during traffic surges.

Limited PHP workers can cause bottlenecks during peak periods, but Cloudways Autonomous ensures consistent site speed and responsiveness.

Integrated CDN, Edge Caching, and Security

Another remarkable feature we discovered about Cloudways Autonomous is its seamless integration with Cloudflare Enterprise. This integration allows for efficient content delivery and robust security, including unmetered DDoS mitigation across layers 3, 4, and 7, as well as an Enterprise-grade Web Application Firewall (WAF).

With Cloudways Autonomous, your WordPress site not only loads faster for visitors worldwide but also receives top-tier protection against DDoS attacks and other online threats.

Modern User Interface

The UI of Cloudways Autonomous looks sleek, something we can all appreciate. It is also intuitive. On the main dashboard of Autonomous, you’ll find four essential tabs housing all the core functionalities that simplify the creation, monitoring, and management of WordPress applications.

In the Overview tab, Cloudways offers options like adding your domain and creating staging sites. It also displays key metrics such as visits, disk space usage, and bandwidth consumption, resetting each billing cycle.

The settings tabs provide various configuration options. The Performance tab details optimization measures like Object Cache Pro, Full Page Caching, and CDN by Cloudflare

The Workflow/Tools section includes settings for Backup, Restore, PHP, and Stage Management. Lastly, the Intelligence tab offers options for Logs, Traffic Analysis, and Cache Analysis.

24/7 Support

If we talk about support, Cloudways’ expert team is available 24/7 and ready to assist you via live chat and tickets.

Their live chat wait time is usually no more than a few minutes, at least in our case, which is quite impressive. 

Initially, you’ll interact with a chatbot that solves most problems. However, we engaged with a human representative to assess the knowledge of their support team.

During our interactions with the Cloudways team, we found their support to be very good. They addressed our issues professionally, often providing solutions with highlighted screenshots, allowing us to solve problems on our own quite easily.

Backup and Restore

Backups are crucial for any website. Whether you run a blog, an e-commerce store, or a business website, having backups ensures you can recover from accidental file deletions, development mishaps, or revert to a previous version. 

In Cloudways Autonomous, the automatic backup feature saves copies of your application files and database regularly. Additionally, it offers the option to create on-demand backups.

This is a major plus of Autonomous.

Staging Environment

Another impressive feature of Cloudways Autonomous is its ability to create a staging environment with a 1-click push and pull option. This means that any changes made in the staging environment can be easily moved to the production site with just one click, and vice versa—changes from production can be pulled into staging effortlessly.

Autonomous allows users to create staging applications in line with their app quota based on their chosen plan. For instance, if a plan permits 3 WordPress sites, users can also launch 3 staging applications.

Object Cache Pro

Object Cache Pro effectively reduces page load times and overall server load by employing various compression algorithms, resulting in decreased memory usage and network I/O. This is particularly beneficial for WordPress sites seeking to enhance their performance. 

However, it is an expensive plugin, priced at $95 per month or $950 annually. Cloudways Autonomous includes this for free on every plan, which is quite impressive.

Cloudways Autonomous Pricing Options

Cloudways Autonomous offers transparent and competitive pricing, ensuring users have clarity and ease in understanding their expenses. There are no hidden fees or convoluted billing structures, making it straightforward to comprehend the costs involved.

Here’s a breakdown of the pricing tiers:

Plan 1:

  • $35/month
  • 1 WordPress application
  • 15GB Disk Space
  • Up to 30K Unique Visits
  • 100GB Bandwidth

Plan 2:

  • $90/month
  • 3 WordPress applications
  • 25GB Disk Space
  • Up to 70K Unique Visits
  • 200GB Bandwidth

Plan 3:

  • $145/month
  • 6 WordPress applications
  • 40GB Disk Space
  • Up to 125K Unique Visits
  • 300GB Bandwidth

Plan 4:

  • $240/month
  • 10 WordPress applications
  • 60GB Disk Space
  • Up to 200K Unique Visits
  • 400GB Bandwidth

Plan 5:

  • $555/month
  • 30 WordPress applications
  • 90GB Disk Space
  • Up to 500K Unique Visits
  • 900GB Bandwidth

Plan 6:

  • $955/month
  • 50 WordPress applications
  • 120GB Disk Space
  • Up to 1000K Unique Visits
  • 1200GB Bandwidth

Plan 7:

  • $1640/month
  • 90 WordPress applications
  • 200GB Disk Space
  • Up to 1500K Unique Visits
  • 3000GB Bandwidth

Overall, we think whether you’re just starting out or managing a high-traffic enterprise website, there’s a plan designed to accommodate your requirements without breaking the bank.

Cloudways Autonomous Vs. Cloudways Flexible

Cloudways, in general, is an amazing option for folks seeking a reliable managed hosting provider. But, since they offer both Autonomous and Flexible as sorta two different products with different pricing plans and features, choosing one over the other can be tricky.

As we already mentioned, Cloudways Autonomous, specifically for WordPress only, stands out for its hands-off hosting experience, catering to high-traffic websites. The key advantage lies in its true auto-scaling feature, which is not commonly offered by many managed hosting providers, thus providing a significant edge in the market.

Cloudways Flexible, on the other hand, provides managed cloud hosting with a focus on giving users more control over server customizations and choices between 5+ app types and 5 top Cloud providers.

It is important to note that both Cloudways Autonomous and Cloudways Flexible operate on a pay-as-you-go pricing model, allowing users to efficiently manage their hosting costs based on their specific needs and usage.

Ultimately, the decision boils down to your specific requirements and preferences. If you prioritize a hands-off experience with minimal involvement in server management, Autonomous might be the better fit. However, if you prefer more control over server configurations and don’t mind a bit of tinkering, Flexible could be the way to go.

Here’s a comparison table to help you better understand the difference between the two:

AspectCloudways AutonomousCloudways Flexible
Core ValueHands-off & auto-scalable WordPress hosting on a highly available infrastructure.Managed Cloud hosting with more control over server customization choices between apps & cloud providers.
Cloud and Server SelectionHosted on robust GCP using GKE, it offers a choice between three leading cloud providers: GCP, AWS, and DO.Users don’t need to worry about selecting server specifications as the platform intelligently scales resources to meet demand.
Pricing ModelPay-as-you-go pricing based on Cloud provider, processor, RAM, bandwidth & storage.Pay-as-you-go pricing based on Cloud provider, processor, RAM, bandwidth & storage.
ScalabilityAutomatic vertical & horizontal scaling of resources based on traffic needs.On-demand vertical scaling with one-click scalability for expanding needs.
Target UserHigh-traffic eCommerce businesses, digital marketing agencies, influencers, and web publishers.Digital marketing agencies, developers, SMBs.
PerformanceHigh availability with GCP infrastructure & GKE-powered hands-off true auto-scaling.It offers a choice between AWS, GCP, or DO’s standard or high-performance machines with an optimized stack.
AppsWordPress & WooCommerce. All PHP-based apps with 1-click launch for WordPress, Magento, and Laravel.All PHP-based apps with 1-click launch for WordPress, Magento, and Laravel.
ManagementZero management is required, even for auto-scaling.Managed, providing users some control over server & app management.

Customer Reviews of Cloudways Autonomous

Cloudways has been a managed hosting provider in the industry since 2012 and has great reviews. On G2, they have a 4.7 out of 5.0 stars rating. And on Trustpilot, they have a trust score of 4.5 out of 5.0.

To further gauge users’ opinions about Cloudways Autonomous specifically, I looked at Reddit. Here are two positive reviews.

Denisgomesfranco said:

Denisgomesfranco shared their experience with Cloudways Autonomous, highlighting its potential for Kubernetes newcomers and its impressive performance benchmarks. They also noted a concern about bandwidth limitations in the plans, suggesting the need for additional measures like a CDN.

Chuckdacuck said:

Chuckdacuck described their recent migration to Cloudways Autonomous, mentioning smooth migration processes and improved performance compared to other platforms. They also appreciated features like staging and backups, expressing satisfaction with their decision to switch.

Verdict: Should You Choose Cloudways Autonomous for Managed WordPress & Autoscaling in 2024?

Our verdict: If you prioritize affordability, scalability, and ease of use in your hosting solution, Cloudways Autonomous is definitely worth exploring for your managed WordPress and auto-scaling needs in 2024.

With its transparent pricing model and starting price of $35 per month, Cloudways Autonomous offers affordability and flexibility accessible to businesses of all sizes, regardless of their technical expertise.

What truly sets Cloudways Autonomous apart is its seamless setup process, hands-off experience, autoscaling to handle traffic spikes, and the added security provided by Cloudflare Enterprise.

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