freistilbox: Next-Generation Managed Hosting

Published 2012-10-03 by Jochen Lillich

In private conversations I’ve already been talking about our “new architecture” for some time, and today, we present it to the world. On behalf of everyone here at freistil IT, I’m very happy to announce the release of freistilbox — our next-generation managed hosting platform!

We’ve taken everything we’ve learned over the past three years to build this platform. We’ll have a technical article for those interested soon. Until then, here are the big benefits of our freistilbox hosting platform!

Scalability made simple

freistilbox is built to scale without forcing our customers to deal with the complexity that comes with a growing hosting infrastructure. To get more capacity (and higher availability as a side benefit), you just add more “boxes” to your hosting platform. These boxes are dedicated server instances that host your web application. Everything else — databases, caches etc. — is managed by our operations team behind the scenes.

Load Distribution

Only our DrupalCONCEPT ELITE customers had access to a load balancer that distributes incoming requests between two or more application servers.

For freistilbox, we’ve built load distribution right into the core infrastructure, so as soon as you have two or more freistilbox instances, incoming requests automatically get distributed between them. Should one of these freistilbox instances suffer an outage, it will automatically be left out, so your website visitors won’t notice.

SSL offloading

With DrupalCONCEPT, while answers to HTTP requests are answered very fast by a Varnish cache, SSL-encrypted traffic gets delivered directly to the web application servers. There, the requests have to be first decrypted and then answered by Drupal — every single time, because we are going around the Varnish cache. That’s why SSL-heavy sites tend to be slower and need a lot of processing power.

On our new freistilbox infrastructure, SSL requests are decrypted immediately when they arrive by a dedicated SSL offloading layer. This not only takes computing load off the application servers but also allows the HTTP cache to speed up both encrypted and unencrypted traffic.

Integration of external repositories

In DrupalCONCEPT, the Git repository containing the web application code is tightly integrated with the website instance itself. We use Git for freistilbox, too. But if you already have a Git repository that supports webhooks, for example at Github, you can use that one to deploy your code instead of the default repo we provide.

Deployments take less than 10 seconds

With DrupalCONCEPT, if you wanted a site update rolled out, it would take up to 2 minutes for the deployment mechanism to do its thing. Now, thanks to a newly designed deployment process, it takes less than 10 seconds.

Web dashboard and API

Not only does freistilbox offer a web-based dashboard where you can see (and, in later versions, change) your customer data and website configuration. The dashboard application provides a RESTful API that we’re also going to document and expose to the public. That means that you will be able to make changes to your platform parameters either manually in your browser or automated via software.

Upcoming Features

There’s no set schedule for these yet, but we know you want them, and we’re testing them. We’re working hard to bring you:

  • Separate SSH servers to execute commands like mysqldump or drush manually or via Cron, without using precious application server resources
  • Secure external access to your MySQL database Of course, as we know ourselves and our customers, we’ll add many other things over time that we don’t even think about today.

What about DrupalCONCEPT?

No change on this front. We’ll continue operating all DrupalCONCEPT installations that already exist. We’ll just stop adding new ones from today on.

So, what do you think?

We’d love to know what you think of our new hosting platform, so head on over to and make sure to drop us a note in the comments below!