Bluehost offers one-click installation for more than 70 different software packages and services that users can select from when signing up for a hosting plan. There are 26 categories of software and services, including Backups, Blogs, Business Tools, Classifieds, Client Management, Content Management, eCommerce, Education, Forms and Surveys, Forums, Guestbooks, Help Center, Live Chat, Mailing Lists, Photo Galleries, Product Sourcing, Project Management, RSS, Security, Social Networking, Statistics, Utilities, Webmail, Website Builders, Website Design, and Wiki. In addition, customers are able to upload software to their account on their own.
Far and away the most common applications selected by customers are Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. We also took a close look at e-commerce systems such as Magento, osCommerce, and Prestashop.
These applications in turn typically run on an open source software stack consisting of Linux, Apache, and MySQL. (Bluehost also offers PostgresQL, but few users choose it, as MySQL is the default database installed with most of the applications that rely on databases.) Domain name services are managed by PowerDNS.
Bluehost does have a small number of users running on Windows and SQL Server, but they are legacy customers from an acquisition, and did not feature in our analysis.
Bluehost is thus slightly more skewed to open source than the overall Internet population. According to Netcraft’s July 2012 web surver survey , 61.45% of known websites are hosted on Apache, 14.62% on Microsoft servers, 11.09% on nginx, and 3.44% on Google Web Server. The Web thus runs on approximately 85% open source web servers, while almost all of Bluehost’s customers are on Linux and Apache.
The chart below shows the number of sites that had just one instance of MySQL running, those with more than one, and those with more than ten. The ones with more than ten represent a fairly sophisticated user. Users who understand that they need more database instances, and not just more tables in their database, have some interesting dynamics going on with their website. Those with two or more instances, roughly 55% of all MySQL users, may be using more instances for business, or experimenting, or truly need more than one database as they scale. They may also simply have installed multiple apps, each of which carried along with it its own MySQL instance. At the SMB level, though, we think it is fair to say that those with more than ten databases are heavy users, which is 7% of all Bluehost MySQL users.
Bluehost users are offered an array of software packages to use with their hosted platform. The most common choices are a CMS such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. A small percentage of users host their own e-commerce capabilities. A small percentage do their own programming in various open source languages.
The following tables represent the number of SMBs who use a particular tool. The total population of accounts that have tools installed rather than a pure HTML site is roughly 504,831 users out of the 1+ million users in the Bluehost data.
|CMS||Number of users||% Share of All Tool Installs|
Now let’s look at the same data for e-commerce. You can see that osCommerce is by far the largest installed tool for doing e-commerce on a Bluehost account. However, it is still a tiny proportion overall. Note, however, that the CMS platforms themselves have e-commerce plugins. For example, the Cashie plugin for WordPress makes it simple to turn WordPress into an e-commerce platform, and the Ubercart and Drupal Commerce modules do the same for Drupal. Our measurements don’t include these e-commerce platforms.
|E-commerce||Number of users||% Share of All Tool Installs|
The big three CMSs are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Whether you look at job postings, Google Trends, or Bluehost user data, WordPress is the leading CMS tool. For many SMBs, WordPress is all they need to engage their customers, and even do some rudimentary sales by putting a phone number on the website to call/order and taking a credit card directly via the phone. This was not measured in any of our data sets other than the customer survey, but it is quite common in practice.
The Water&Stone 2011 Open Source CMS Market Share Report  surveyed more than 2,500 respondents. Twenty percent were single-person businesses, and 33% had between two and ten employees.
Total installs reported by Water&Stone for WordPress are about 4.3 million compared to 1.7 million for Joomla. But in Weekly Downloads, WordPress is now about a factor of eight times that of Joomla, the next closest competitor in the small business market. This study corroborates the dominance of WordPress that we find in the Bluehost data.
TECHi has an excellent write up and infographic titled Open source wars: Wordpress vs Drupal vs Joomla  that provides a comparison of the features and costs of the three large CMSs. Here is a summary of cost components that may make the platforms more palatable for a SMB.