In my experience, it is usually a psychological factor for clients being unsure about transitioning to Amazon. New work has launched into Amazon immediately, quickly, and of course with due diligence for reviewing pricing. IT technology should be making use of best offerings from various sources to be most effective. What we aim for with people is a solution. If desirable, domain names and DNS configurations may stay where they are. Web designers and administrators should well understand their service providers and have flexibility to create designs and maintain them with best interests for both the client and oneself.
Amazon pricing is based on an on-demand monthly invoicing model using a credit or debit card, with a significant annual discount for the web hosting component. Monthly billing is common these days, such as with streaming services. The client only needs to adjust to the exchange rate from USD to AUD, which has not shown any issues.
As one example of work, a web designer and friend has a business based in Sydney. His client asked to move across to Amazon. We did the transition using Zoom as we went through the process.
There are times some clients base their pricing comparisons against the cheapest website plans on the market. Even then Amazon has won out. However, we do not use the cheapest plans for several reasons. Baselines are compared to the recommended plans. We then look at SSL certificates for https://, email and DNS management to ensure no hidden costs. Even so, an end-to-end design has other considerations – e.g. my websites use servers based in Australia and e-mail is business security standard.
I have provided a general list of benefits in the checklist below. For example, Amazon ensures no frustrations from slow page displays, outages, system corruptions or hacks, limited administration access, “hostage” e-mail costs or frozen pages when editing.
You may administer and control your websites using best industry practices on a VPS (Virtual Private Server) platform in Australia, rather than relying on external countries or restricted administrator access. As an added benefit, Amazon provides a Content Delivery Network (CDN) at virtually no cost, improving Search Engine performance metrics.
Simple websites may use an Amazon EC2 t3a.nano instance as lowest cost, 1CPU/0.5GB RAM, or a t3a.micro instance with 2CPU/1GB RAM as the most common. If you venture towards the higher t3a.small architecture with 2CPU/2GB RAM your best cost savings would be in reserving the hardware with an upfront 3 year plan for the highest discount. All hardware uses “burst” CPU – we do not experience slow pages.
As a web designer you, like myself, may have had various encounters with critical problems and seen the public forums on those issues. Amazon is an enterprise structured service. In true data centers, there are behind the scenes “metrics” to ensure industry standards are kept. If there is a failure, people must be contacted, trained if need be, and the company has penalty clauses in their contracts. There are also rules about maintaining systems – e.g. not doing so during business hours. There are demands for services to have specified percentages for uptime. I am really not pleased with what I consider false claims in the market, which has been a frustration for myself in the past and with the forums.
We should personally with our own IT experience, our network of contacts, in conjunction with industry best practices and evidence, decide what our baselines are. For instance, a typical WordPress site will function perfectly on 8GB of Hard Disk. SEO configurations should be stock standard. I do not entertain a number of marketing claims.
There are no readily available technology comparisons between all the hosting services or easy trial accounts. It has again been my experience to create accounts and test the systems.
I recall once a provider (now no longer) did maintenance work on their servers. They admitted they switched off the security and forgot to put it back. My site was hacked, reported, and taken offline. The Help Desk would not help me. There used to be various complaints of designers not being able to increase memory configurations for PHP and WordPress. There are past cases of downtime lasting days without updates to users. There have been cases of businesses relying on emails that become black listed. I have had client sites moved to lower grade hardware without notification – one provider was concerned I had a SSH login, which meant I could see what happened. One corporate takeover also placed those of my sites onto unworkable hardware. The list goes on. There is in my view a bit of a jungle out there. These are past experiences. I have examples relating to the market today but will not present those here as all my websites are on Amazon, and there are services I would advise to clients leaving Amazon.
If a hosting provider uses servers outside of Australia, you may want to consider that. What happens if there is a typhoon? What if there is an Internet breakage or some issue causing slow performance? What if the WordPress database is placed in different hardware – a second point of failure? Every-day customers are usually unaware of these geographies and simply accept the technology conditions. It has been very common in my decades of IT work for customers to accept their technology without knowing there can be better – e.g. people saying the computer is slow today. All services outside of Australia also have a slower initial Server Response Time that effects search engine ratings. This is unable to be configured – it is hard set.
I also consider who owns a company and if their practices are in line with Australia. For instance, one provider years ago refused to accept my new account without my drivers license details. Another provider’s CEO had a reputation. A provider may make it almost impossible to close an account. I consider the whole project, not just the home page on a website design.
Your clients may be reassured their WordPress sites can be transferred to or from an Amazon service at any point in time. WordPress remains the same – files and a database. Interestingly I have seen websites fail to transfer to Amazon due to old technology or corrupted data. With experience we can work through such issues.
I like to discuss Disaster Recovery as I have never come across any one backup system that has not failed either completely or in part, including WordPress backup/restore plugins. Amazon systems use a strict security mechanism and data is backed up by a “snapshot” that can be restored within minutes after a critical failure.
Web design companies should already be offering regular and agreed maintenance plans. This maintenance may include security patches to the Amazon system, data backups, SSL certificates and so on. (Free domain only certificates from Let’s Encrypt require no ongoing maintenance. A formal supplier like Comodo Store provides full pricing options for the type of SSL certificate you need.) You may include any regular Amazon maintenance as part of your existing service.
In essence, Amazon provides a mission critical system that us ordinary folks can enjoyably make use of.