Building WordPress on AWS – get to know the 7 most important services

Bartosz Komin | Cloud Services | 28.10.2020

WordPress w chmurze AWS

It is worth the time to ensure the availability of your website, and looking closely at highly scalable and fault-tolerant WordPress cloud services, for example those built on the Amazon Web Services platform. Discover the 7 most important services and their most relevant benefits. We will also try to determine whether the cloud really is expensive and in what situations you should decide to outsource IT services.

Standard hosting or the cloud?

WordPress is one of the most popular CMS systems, used by over 30% of websites around the world. Due to the coronavirus crisis and the growing importance of online services, owners of portals, websites, e-commerce sites and blogs are increasingly looking towards the cloud. Many of them are wondering if basic website hosting will fulfil their requirements given that the reliability and availability of the website at its peak means “to be or not to be” in business. Building a fault-tolerant and easily scalable WordPress site on AWS is gaining popularity, but the nomenclature and technologies used by the cloud services giant still raise doubts. To facilitate the decision-making process, we’ll discuss some of the basic AWS services related to web technologies.

WordPress on AWS – can I afford it and what will I get?

The prices of cloud services may also give us pause for thought, but contrary to popular belief, the cloud does not have to be expensive, especially when it comes to simple applications and systems. In addition, Amazon provides the so-called free tier, which is a free annual subscription to numerous services, giving us 750 hours of access to Amazon EC2, 5GB of S3 space… what exactly is it? If the complicated technical nomenclature prevents you from familiarizing yourself with the possibilities of AWS services, we are here to help. We have prepared a description of the 7 basic services available as part of the AWS cloud platform.

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Building WordPress in the cloud – the most important AWS services

  • S3 – when deciding on a cloud hosting solution, you get space to store files and media. S3 works similarly to Google Drive, where we can host files of any size. Simple Storage Service is behind this seemingly complicated name, hence 3 x S. The file storage service is highly functional and has a durability of 99.9999999999% – according to the provider, it works properly for this period of time.Cost: From $ 0.023 / GB / month. The price depends on the amount of data stored (sample price for Standard Storage).
  • EC2 – these are virtual machines, i.e. Elastic Compute Cloud. As part of this service, we gain full access to the chosen instance with specific parameters that will be the most suitable in terms of load and use of resources. The Amazon EC2 service is required to install and host a WordPress website or application. There are various configurations to choose from; for example, we can select the t2.micro instance with a capacity of 1GB RAM, 1vCPU, and use all these resources.Cost: $ 0.0116 / hour for the basic version. A sample price for a t2.micro “on demand” instance with Linux is $ 0.0116 / hour + $ 0.10 / GB / month. EBS Volume “(EBS volume is the hard disk of this virtual machine).
  • RDS – A WordPress site needs a database to store data. Amazon provides access to RDS, the Amazon Relational Database Service, which makes it easier to store and manage your data. The availability of the database is a key element in the functioning of a WordPress website, because if the database goes down, the website may stop working, and there is even a risk of losing data. The advantage of RDS in the cloud is that Amazon is responsible for the time-consuming activities related to database management and maintenance. This means we can simply focus on our own business, managing the website and creating content, instead of  worrying about data backups and having to broaden our database knowledge. You can choose from databases such as Aurora, Maria DB, Oracle or SQLServer. The first one is especially worth taking a closer look at. Aurora is original AWS implementation, compatible with MySQL and Postgres and optimized for the provider’s infrastructure, and therefore 5 times faster than MySQL and 3 times faster than PostgreSQL.Cost: $ 0.017 / hour (The price is for MySQL version db.t3.micro in one Availability Zone).
  • CloudFront – many websites, blogs and online store owners try to reach the widest possible audience with their content, and a WordPress website is, among other things, a powerful sales tool. For people who want to reach users around the world easily with their content, the CloudFront service (fast content delivery network) is a real must-have. Thanks to CloudFront, after a user accesses a service or website from a distant location, other users use static content taking advantage of Edge Locations (i.e. the point closest to the customer of a given service, which are created around the world), which speeds up the entire process. The division into regions allows you to build fail-safe systems and facilitates the distribution of content between distant locations around the world. Thanks to this, static content reaches users faster and does not burden one main server.Cost: around 0.10 $ / 10 TB for an outbound transfer, around 0.01 $ / 10k HTTP / HTTPS req.
  • S3 Transfer Acceleration – In the context of CloudFront, it is worth mentioning the S3 Transfer Acceleration tool that AWS makes available to users. This tool can be used to speed up data transfer between remote locations by as much as 50-500%. S3 Transfer Acceleration enables fast, easy and secure file transfers over long distances between your client and S3. The service takes advantage of CloudFront with the globally distributed Edge Locations mentioned earlier on. Data which reaches the Edge Location is then redirected to S3 via the optimized network.
  • ELB – Elastic Load Balancer is a service that allows you to create a WordPress website that can handle multiple users at the same time. Because of this, increased traffic on the website will not have a negative impact on its functioning, because the load balancer distributes traffic among several servers.

There are 3 types of AWS load balancers to choose from:

  1. Application LB (ALB) – used for balancing http and https traffic,
  2. Network Load Balancer – for sites with a very high load and very high performance, it can handle millions of requests per second with very low delays.
  3. Classic Load Balancer – for standard applications using EC2, as well as legacy applications moved from the on-premises environment to the cloud.

Cost: $ 0.0225 / hour (example price for ALB)

  • IAM – It is also worth mentioning the Identity and Access Management service, used to manage user permissions and permissions between specific services (for example, we can determine whether EC2 has access to the S3 service). IAM is a service used by people who configure the entire server environment on AWS. WordPress has its own users and permission levels (e.g. when we register in the store as a buyer, our data is saved in the database and we may have permissions as a customer, editor, administrator, but in WordPress itself). IAM is the permission levels for the infrastructure.

Cost: The service is free of charge.

Benefits of using WordPress on AWS:

  • Better responsiveness of the website, which translates into better SEO results
  • No delays in file transfer
  • The provider manages the databases, taking care of their availability and maintenance
  • Durability of some services is at the level of 99.9999999999%
  • Free access to basic AWS services for 12 months thanks to Free Tier
  • High service scalability and fault tolerance

WordPress in the cloud: DIY or outsource IT services?

Amazon supports users in the self-installation process and provides step-by-step instructions and guides on how to build and configure their own WordPress cloud site. If you are wondering what service will be right for you and how to utilize its potential, it is worth considering consulting and using the support of specialists who are experienced in implementing WordPress sites on AWS. It is also a suitable option for people who manage more complex websites and web applications. Those who keep an eye on new technologies may think that with the current shortage of IT specialists, especially IT architects and DevOps specialists, this is “easier said than done”. Additionally, recruiting such an IT specialist for the project may bring significant costs. Outsourcing companies, which are dark horses in the race towards digital transformation in 2020, are coming to the rescue.

The author of the post is:

DevOps Engineer

Java Developer with over 10 years of experience. Currently fascinated by the idea of DevOps and cloud solutions.

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