The world may remember 2020 as the year of pandemic, but business owners worldwide will remember it for sending a clear cut message: Digital-first is the new reality!
COVID-19 disrupted all aspects of our lives and forced us to test rapidly and adapt to new ways of living. While the world scrambled to adjust to the new work-from-home routine and learned to accept social distancing, we at Cloudways were busy helping our customers improve their digital presence when they needed it the most. We take pride in the fact that we experimented, adapted, and reinvented ourselves in many ways to help our customers move their dreams forward.
We’re vastly grateful to you, our customers and visitors, for being with us on this journey and helping us close an unprecedented year on a strong note.
From responding to the lockdown situation to growing our global team and graduating Cloudways Academy students to enhancing the Cloudways platform, it’s been a happening year for us regardless of the circumstances. So join us as we take a look back at 2020 and all that we experienced in helping our customers brave the worst of the global crisis and going digital.
Responding to the COVID Challenges
COVID was, without doubt, a bizarre challenge unlike any we’ve faced before. When businesses around the world started shutting down, they realized the importance of going digital. And given our reputation in the hosting industry, hundreds to thousands turned to us to power their newfound love for online presence!
However, not only were brick-and-mortar businesses suffering, but online shops also saw a significant drop in their sales and overall revenue, considering the whole world was going under lockdown and spending across the board was diminishing. Of course, that included many of our esteemed customers.
For us, our customers come first, and we weren’t going to leave them stranded during difficult times. And so we took every measure possible to support online businesses right from the early stages of the pandemic and continue to do so!
Here’s a look at some of the steps we took immediately to give our customers some much-needed relief:
- With immediate effect, we relaxed the timelines for billing in the early COVID period. We even issued compensation to select customers who had a hard time paying their hosting bills.
- We offered three months of free hosting service to any non-profit organization creating awareness around COVID-19.
- We donated to and supported several initiatives to help different communities around the globe.
- We collaborated with many of our partners to offer healthy discounts on many tools to businesses worldwide.
- Our team produced a great deal of content around remote work and held many webinars to help people adjust to the new normal of working from home.
- Even though we had to go remote, our entire team was 100% active throughout to ensure our customers did not feel any disruption in our services.
- While other businesses around the world were downsizing, Cloudways opened its doors for experts to join our ranks.
You can read our complete Coronavirus update here.
All this while, we had to keep operations running. Maintaining the quality of our service was also mission-critical to us, and we’re proud that we responded remarkably to the situation. We launched news processes for reporting, communicating, and collaboration among teams and went remote with 160+ people, but never compromised our services despite the challenging circumstances.
And speaking of people…
Cloudways Family Growing Beyond Borders
With most businesses going digital, the demand for managed hosting soared in 2020, and Cloudways was in the midst of it all. To support the infrastructure with the massive influx of new users, we had to add numbers to our Cloudways family. Keeping diversity and a need to cater to customers worldwide in mind, we went looking beyond borders for additions to our talent pool.
Our global team of new and existing expert talent is now present in 10 countries on all major continents. We are now spread throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. This remotely-distributed team brings a wealth of expertise in server and application management, security, people management, technical customer support, and other areas.
As we enter 2021, our ever-growing global Cloudways team is ready to take on all challenges in a bid to help you grow big digitally this year and beyond! And if you think you have what it takes to be part of our growing global team, head here because we may have openings for you.
Apart from our global team, the Cloudways Academy, an initiative born in 2019, also contributed to adding homegrown talent to our support and Customer Success teams.
We believe these people are the future of Cloudways, and we are hopeful that these new faces will elevate our game in serving you even better in 2021!
Improved Customer Experience
With all the new additions and growth came many challenges, but more importantly, inevitable improvements in the way we serve our customers. Not only were we serving more chats than ever in the latter part of 2020, but we were closing almost all queries on a positive note.
Here’s a look at some graphs to give you an idea of the impact adding all that experience into the team had on our customer service.
You’ll notice that while our active customers and number of chats grew massively, our rating on chat and NPS remains steady. That is something we’ve worked really hard to achieve!
The Cloudways Maverick
The Cloudways Mavericks are a group of hand-picked industry-leaders who work tirelessly to help the global community with their diverse skills and backgrounds. While they work as brand ambassadors for Cloudways, these individuals have become more than that since the inception of the Mavericks idea.
The Cloudways Mavericks have proven to be huge assets for the communities on the web. Their weekly webinars have garnered the attention of thousands of people seeking to expand their skills using the Mavericks’ experience.
Here are some numbers to highlight the influence webinars had in 2020:
Total minutes viewed on Facebook: +115,125 minutes
Total reach on YouTube: 45,347
Total minutes viewed on YouTube: 10,300 minutes
Total reach: +273,847
Total minutes viewed: +125,425 minutes
To strengthen our Mavericks squad, we welcomed a new maestro in 2020: Brent Weaver.
With Brent on our team, our users and the general audience will benefit greatly from his experience and expertise in agency management and business development. He has already contributed to our growing webinar lineup, and you can expect more great talks and videos in 2021 from the Mavericks.
Platform Improvements & Evolution
This list would be incomplete without mentioning what truly connects us with our customers: The Cloudways Platform.
The Cloudways Platform is where all the magic happens. So no points in guessing that we had plans to enhance its feature-set around performance, security, flexibility, workflows, and improvements so you could get more out of it. But, we hadn’t factored in the massive influx of users that we had no way to anticipate at the start of the year.
Nevertheless, we were able to deliver exceptionally well on two fronts of our platform: Performance & Flexibility.
Our Platform’s performance is crucial in delivering the best experience to our users. Hence, like every year, we made strides in 2020 to make the Platform even better.
We integrated stable versions of different stack components so our customers could leverage them for their business applications. The improvements include PHP 7.4, Magento 2.4, Elasticsearch 7.6, and MariaDB 10.4.
We have also implemented server optimizations for larger servers. If you now opt for or scale to higher servers starting from 8GB and onwards, you get more performance for your buck.
On a related note, we introduced the Vultr High Frequency (Vultr HF) instances into our choice of servers. This proved to be an instant hit as many customers were already aware of these servers’ performance, and it proved to be a defining factor for performance-intensive use cases.
Flexibility has remained one of our core values since the start, and in 2020, we further understood the need for it given the very fluid digital landscape. When it comes to the Cloudways Platform, our customers expect it to fit their unique requirements and business cases. Meeting this expectation is always a work in progress because newer (and interesting) use cases keep coming our way.
In 2020, we increased the Platform’s flexibility by integrating more AWS data center regions (Hong Kong, Paris, Stockholms, Bahrain, Milan, and Cape Town). We also refreshed our Google Compute Engine (GCE) line up to help users select the right server option from our GCE offerings.
We further improved our staging sites feature (popular particularly among agencies and developers who want to test changes without breaking the live sites). Now, users can exclude individual database tables from the staging process, which means that now ecommerce stores and database-centric applications can utilize staging sites without fearing data overwrite issues.
Enhancing Security With Bot Protection
Bots consuming precious server resources has long been a problem, particularly for WordPress websites. To counter this, we partnered with MalCare and delivered a Bot Protection feature that protects WordPress websites from brute force login attacks and bots that consume server resources. And to further increase security for WordPress applications, XMLRPC is now disabled for all new applications.
Finally, we introduced the Disk Cleanup feature where users have better control over the disk clean up process and can exclude specific files and folders from the process. Like many Platform features, this offers both manual and automated execution options to cater to various scenarios.
Quality of Life Updates
Here are some minor updates that we thought you’d like to know about:
- Change Varnish cache lifetime according to your requirement.
- Reset app permissions to master users more simply.
- Now you can use GeoIP with your application hosted on the Cloudways Platform.
- You can also change the default passwords of your apps.
- We have removed some 1-click applications (lesser-used apps) to stay focused on major apps, but you can still launch it using PHP apps.
We hope that all these changes listed above (along with future ones) contribute to even greater success for you in the coming years.
Meanwhile, putting so much effort into making things better for you bore us some fruits.
Ranked #1 In Managed Hosting Category on G2
While we’re always excited to see our customers flourish, sometimes a pat on the back for doing a good job also encourages us.
Hundreds to thousands of people have reviewed Cloudways on sites like G2 and Trustpilot for years.
But ranking #1 on these review sites is as good as it gets because people get a real picture of our hard work. G2, one of the most trusted software and services review sites globally with over 3 million users, ranked us #1 in the Managed Hosting category.
The top-ranking came on the back of authentic reviews that gave Cloudways a final rating of 4.8/5.
You can read the details and what our customers say about us here.
Laying the Foundations for Agency Partnership Program
Agencies love Cloudways. And we love them back, so what better way to give them immense value other than launching a complete program for them?
The idea for the Agency Partnership Program stemmed in 2019 when we saw an increase in the number of agencies opting for Cloudways to power their clients’ websites. These agencies already considered us as their partners, and we wanted to take things a step further to help them grow. But at the time, we didn’t know what those agencies wanted because we very conveniently forgot to ask them.
After many surveys and asking around, we knew what to do: put agencies at the center and ask customers what they really want.
To help agencies grow, we’ve worked hard throughout 2020 to smoothen the edges of our agency program. We want an agency’s experience to go beyond hosting, where they can access a suite of benefits that increases their peace of mind, boosts their productivity, and fuels their growth.
Piccia Neri, A Cloudways Maverick, also wrote a UX Case Study on designing the Cloudways’ Agency Partnership program.
While the program isn’t available for the public yet, you can join the waiting list to be the first to get exclusive access to all the perks and benefits.
The Events We Attended (and Sponsored)
In 2020, despite the travel bans and the raging localized mini-epidemics, we were part of many online events. Even though virtual events cannot replace offline events, we understand the importance of doing our part for the community, and so Cloudways continued its support by sponsoring many virtual events.
Here are some of the events we participated in in 2020:
To 2021 & Beyond
2020 was a wild ride, and it’s left everyone wondering what 2021 has in store for us.
While we can’t be certain about what world affairs will look like this year (fingers crossed for the best), we can say with confidence that Cloudways will keep breaking barriers of innovation and performance so you can stay on top of your game.
You can expect serious Product innovation since that’s our priority this year. And along with it, we’ll be working on improving our existing feature set with a lot happening on the UX front as well.
We also have WordPress Automation and better Monitoring & Performance in the pipeline and other exciting stuff that we can’t share just yet 😁. But all in all, we’ll be working hard to make sure this year is more exciting than ever before for your online business.
“I’m proud of our team for achieving historic growth while continuously improving customer experience. And thanks to our customers & community for their continued trust in Cloudways for their reliable and high-performing online presence. Customers’ peace of mind & productivity will remain our top priority. Our growing team is ready to execute the exciting plans we have for 2021! Onwards & Upwards!” – Aaqib Gadit, Co-Founder & CEO Cloudways
Stay Safe, and here’s to a safer and prosperous 2021!
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Owais works as a Marketing Manager at Cloudways (managed hosting platform) where he focuses on growth, demand generation, and strategic partnerships. With more than a decade of experience in digital marketing and B2B, Owais prefers to build systems that help teams achieve their full potential.