Transfer your Websites to Amazon

Provision Amazon AWS Services for your Web Clients

Full design and administration access for your websites.
New offerings at cost-effective prices for your Clients.
Fast, secure Virtual Private Server EC2 instances for effective web hosting.
Utilise in-house Unix/Linux skills.

Servers in Australia

Flexible e-mail options

WordPress on VPS Hosting

New Marketing Strategy

Servers in Australia

Flexible e-mail options

WordPress on VPS Hosting

New Marketing Strategy

Are you interested?

I grew up with Unix and worked with major ASX listed companies. Splashing my feet in Amazon waters as a hobby, I built WordPress websites for myself and friends. Some folks were genuinely frustrated with services offered to them, even holding off decisions – being asked to spend money on normal search engine configurations, excessive fees such as high costs of domain names and WordPress hosting.

If you have the Linux skill sets as a web service provider and would like help to include Amazon services as part of your value, consider contacting me for a friendly chat.

All my websites have been deployed on Amazon since 2011, leveraging Enterprise technology for us regular folks – individual websites, sole traders and small business.

The idea of using AWS Services is outside most people’s thinking, yet, it saves money, offers high speed performance, robustness and security. Please read on to discover more…

Developing Amazon AWS Technology Skills

Once you own AWS skills, you own them as a tangible asset. No one can simply “have” them without a decision to develop and acquire. This means a rewarding learning curve that yields strong project results.

High Level Overview of Scope of Works

  • Opening an Amazon AWS account

  • DNS & SMTP e-mail

  • Installation of the Linux Operating System

  • Installation of the WordPress platform

  • Optional services such as SSL, CDN

Further Details…

The Amazon AWS Console provides access to all AWS billing and resources.

Billing:
Account creation, invoicing, budgeting alerts, monthly usage.

DNS:
Configure your Domain Name Service – new or existing domain names, registrations.

SMTP e-mail:
Configure the Simple Email Service (SES) for your domain name and move out of sandbox mode.
DNS entries include DKIM, SPF, and optionally DMARC.

Linux:
Installing an EC2 instance and configure the Linux (e.g. Linux2, Fedora, or Linux-2022 soon to be available) operating system for WordPress – LAMP server with php7.4, memcached, apcu, php-fpm, SSL, or

Installing Debian 10 with Openlitespeed –> as per a live site we have configured in Sydney.

Ability to add basic SHELL scripts for maintenance or crontab, using S3 Bucket storage for standard backups.
Comments: Amazon uses a modified version of Linux currently with PHP7.4. My sites are progressively moving to Fedora OS. (At time of writing PHP8.x is not considered stable/sufficient for installations just yet.)

Administration Access:
SSH login and typically FileZilla or equivalent.

Options:
CDN, ip2location, NFS to S3 Buckets, OpenLiteSpeed instead of Apache, use of 3rd Party e-mail.

If you have other options, you may likely be able to install those on the Amazon platform.

This is a list of the Amazon AWS Services that we use:

DNS – registrations, DNS Hosted Zone
Comment: We recommend use of Amazon Route53 which provides full functionality, such as SSL certificate CAAA records.

Some clients ask us to point Amazon DNS records to their existing DNS service.

SES, S3, Lambda and Cloudwatch – e-mail configurations for basic or advanced 3rd party use such as Microsoft Exchange

IAM – security access controls

EC2 – launching the Linux instance, instance management and connection, Static IP, Reserved Instance discount, Snapshot

Certificate Manager and Cloudfront – for optional WordPress CDN service

Cloudwatch Alarms – Automated monitoring. We may add crontab scripts for additional monitoring.

Comment: There are infrequent events causing downtime to any website, such as exceeding memory capacity from denial of service attacks. I have worked with ongoing and changing issues over time. My websites follow industry best practice for single shared hardware servers. Larger companies likely make use of load balancing and RAID disk.

Amazon AWS services requires technical skills, developed as a longer-term learning curve. We have a healthy problem solving approach as per normal industry practice and delivery. As these skills improve with yourself or a team, configurations and maintenance become like a second language. One may have full confidence in supporting clients. You earn the value you offer so others may not simply offer the service unless they too genuinely invest in it.

Amazon provides inexpensive VPS services without instability, shock surprises or  bad idiosyncrasies. It is a healthy environment. Once involved, you may launch out to develop particular skills, such as use of Windows instead of Linux, alternatives to apache, distributed CDN content and more.

Developing and Marketing a Competitive Edge for Clients

Amazon AWS Services provides a solid, reliable WordPress hosting platform in Sydney (and later to be in Melbourne) for fast, strict security and performance anywhere in Australia.

Cost savings are potentially large. Even individual clients on lower cost plans can benefit, which they really like.

If you have IT and Unix/Linux based skills in-house, you may develop a significant and beneficial Amazon offering to your clients. These services are commonly available to Corporations but you may leverage this strength for your clients. Clients do not need to remain locked into their current hosting providers.

My view is that Web Design and Delivery businesses should be offering Amazon Services

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.

Overview of Benefits

  • Best practice WordPress hosting including Apache Server, (or OpenLiteSpeed option)

  • WordPress database ideally located on the same server rather than elsewhere

  • No WordPress pages freezing during editing

  • Safe transition of WordPress to Amazon or back to another provider in the future

  • Develop a new website on Amazon infrastructure or transfer existing site

  • Immediate & highly significant cost savings

  • Lower tiered cost option for a development system

  • Budgeting alerts to protect your account, optionally with MFA authentication

  • Superb fast performance – Linux server with “burst” CPU, Data Center monitoring & uptime

  • Strictest industry security

  • In-Country server located in Sydney

  • Full administration control (non-restricted) – e.g. SSH, PHP configs, disaster backups, security updates

  • Manage new or existing Domain with or via Amazon’s comprehensive DNS functionality

  • Link numerous files into Amazon S3 Bucket storage with fast speed and low cost

  • Virtually free Content Delivery Network (CDN) with geographic control and https:// access

  • Lowest cost Positive SSL Certificates (or higher as required) through Comodo Store

  • Free SSL certificates for Domain Name only via Let’s Encrypt/Certbot

  • Re-direct other Domains to your Domain via Cloudflare or Amazon services

  • Free country IP blocking
  • Virtually free entry level e-mail with industry standard security (Anti-Spam, DKIM etc.)

  • E-mail options for Microsoft Exchange, Amazon WorkMail or Google Business

  • Free e-mail (forwarding only) for small websites using full business e-mail security

  • Advanced Linux options such as use of shell scripts, hooking in PHP commands, or crontab

Pricing and Choosing a Service

Website pricing escalated between 2010 to 2015. Practically, there is no ability to compare technical specifications between provider hardware and services – even Amazon will keep various things out of the public realm. We usually create an account and test the service. Over time we gain experience. A client may see we have such value – but of course some clients are focused elsewhere.

When comparing pricing, we may fairly say a recommended non-Amazon WordPress site varies from $15 to $19 per month excluding SSL and e-mail.

By contrast, the Amazon service is almost free for one year, (allow under a dollar per month) and after that we allow approximately $2.30 to $2.70 per month for hard disk space, bandwidth etc., and an annual discounted fee that is effectively $5.20 per month for a t3a.nano instance, or $8.10 for a t3a.micro instance. This means an Amazon total of roughly $8 (t3a.nano) or $11 (t3a.micro) per month.

For e-mail, we may pay for MicroSoft products (or Google) directly rather than paying the provider as intermediary. Or, for simple systems, we may have a virtually no-cost business email quality service, forwarding emails to your own email account. This free service uses DKIM, SPF, DMARC and Anti-Spam behind it with e-mail monitoring – e.g. manage bounced emails. You may also hook in services to your DNS configurations such as Mailchimp, so the emails are verifiable.

When comparing services, a provider may highlight options they market as important. We gain experience in how to evaluate services. I have all my clients on Amazon.

Amazon users rely on forums and documentation for help. There has been no case I recall in my use of Amazon that needed paid maintenance.

As Amazon uses “burst” CPU, I have not had sites requiring 2CPU/2GB RAM, which is the entry point for some provider VPS services. These would be t3a.small EC2 instances on Amazon.

Some sites have free SSL, and others charge, for example, over $50. These sorts of things can add up. Another example, does the provider allow you to manage your DNS records or charge a fee? Amazon DNS zones only cost USD 50 cents a month (ex gst).

As a rough comparison, using fair costs, you could be paying for a t3a.micro instance with paid SSL for $150 per year instead of $250 per year. Using a three year plan, that could be $90 per year instead of $150.

If we move to the next level of a 2CPU/2GB RAM t3a.small VPS system (none of my clients use this higher performance) you could be paying on a three year tenancy, $160 per year versus > $1,000 with another provider as their minimum. Some may charge even higher.

Over a five to ten year period, these costs are significant and especially so if you have multiple clients. Imagine ten of your clients saving over $100,000 as a group for ten years or individually a minimum of $10K+ per year. And that is on entry level pricing as indicated above.

I have excluded further details on e-mail pricing as it gets complicated. I have clients with MS Office / Exchange plans – these plans vary.

Note too, the prices shown above exclude CDN which is virtually free on Amazon for my own managed websites.

Clients may also use S3 buckets for documents or images. I have tested various cloud services and found Amazon performance and cost preferable for my use to date.

In the IT world, clients may have incentive to move from one service to another if there is a 20% price savings. It depends on effort and costs overall.

IT people love to get their hands on Linux or Windows servers.