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Amazon Cloud (AWS) Migrations and Support

Discussion in 'Third-Party Services & Offers' started by fly, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. fly

    fly Active Member


    I run a consulting firm located in Florida that specializes in cloud implementations. My main focus is Amazon Web Services and am a AWS Certified Solutions Architect. I have been working with AWS for over five years now and am intimately familiar with all of the AWS pieces involved in web hosting including EC2, RDS, S3, Cloudfront, VPC, Route 53, etc.

    I've also been running forums for at least thirteen years and have worked in the IT field for over sixteen. The majority of my forum career involved vBulletin, but I recently made the (wise) decision to move my forum (with 1M+ posts) over to Xenforo. Since a properly designed AWS infrastructure is dynamic, I'm already seeing cost savings due to lower compute requirements.

    As mentioned, AWS is engineered to be intelligently scalable. During times of heavy load, compute resources are automatically added, and then destroyed when load dies down. It's this elasticity that results in the most cost savings. In a traditional IT infrastructure, your gear has to be purchased with the highest load in mind. When that load disappears, your pricey hardware is sitting idle. With AWS, idle resources are reclaimed and you aren't charged for them.

    I'm a huge proponent of Amazon Web Services. They really can provide the entire stack needed for intelligent forum hosting from horsepower, to CDN, to backups. With all that said, I'm offering a few different services to those who are interested.

    * Design and migration with hand off
    * Design, migration, and managed services
    * Design and implementation

    Please contact me so that we can get the discussion started.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  2. Jesepi

    Jesepi Well-Known Member

    Out of curiosity - do you have thoughts as to what price point (monthly/annually) it becomes worth considering hosting a forum community on AWS compared to traditional VPS/Dedicated server deployments?
    BoostN likes this.
  3. fly

    fly Active Member

    As an extremely soft number, I'd say if you're paying more than about $50/mo, AWS can probably save you money. And you'll probably end up with better performance, scalability, and backups.

    edit: Actually I'd say $1/mo because I forgot about the free tier. Amazon offers some basic services free for one year for first time users. It's everything you'd need to run a small forum. Web server, database server, backups, CDN, etc.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  4. PXB

    PXB Member

    Many thanks to fly/Zac who helped me with some procedures on AWS!

  5. briansol

    briansol Active Member

    I'm interested in learning more.

    Currently on a VPS, about $225 a month + offloading backups to s3 for about $20 a month.

    was considering digital ocean + eva's centimod, but it's over my head and i don't have the time to invest in learning the system/nginx to boot.

    sell me on your solution :)
  6. fly

    fly Active Member

    I'd need to know a little bit more about your setup, but I'm sure we can do it cheaper than Digital Ocean. Size of current VPS? Average CPU/memory load? Is MySQL offloaded? Size and activity of site? If you'd prefer not to post that stuff, please PM me.

    Right off the top, I can tell you that backup will be much easier and more integrated, as you can just tell the instance to quiesce its file system and take a snapshot. That snapshot is a 'bare metal' backup and is automatically offloaded to S3. Any snapshots after that are incremental and therefore are very economical. However, the ultimate goal should be for the entire platform to be stateless, so that backups (other than the DB) shouldn't really be necessary. That's the true beauty of AWS.

    (I'm on vacation until early next week with spotty internet access, so please excuse any untimely replies...)
  7. pegasus

    pegasus Well-Known Member

    As someone who pays close to $200/mo for a dedicated server, I looked into moving everything to AWS. Even though most services can be configured as scalable, you need to have at least 1 VPN connection active all the time in order to monitor and make those scaling requests. I figured it out, and the VPN connection alone would have cost over $200/mo (it's billed by hours-active, and free tier is something like only 12 hours), before any other services were factored in. Thus, I stayed with my dedicated server and decided that it's really not worth going full AWS unless your stack is already costing you between $500-$1000/mo. Then and only then would AWS possibly start saving money, but the true savings are for even more expensive setups (over $1000/mo).
  8. fly

    fly Active Member

    Can you explain why you would need the VPN for scaling? I can't think of a situation where that would be necessary, unless maybe you were using AWS for a hot/DR site in an enterprise scenario.
  9. Ridemonkey

    Ridemonkey Well-Known Member

    For XF, how is that handled for attachments/avatars? With VB both could be moved to the database but I'm not aware of that option with XF.
  10. fly

    fly Active Member

    thedude likes this.
  11. fly

    fly Active Member

    Just a reminder that if you are a new user to Amazon AWS, you get a free linux (or Windows, if you really want one) server, database server, memcache server, and CDN for a year.

  12. Xon

    Xon Well-Known Member

    Last I looked, AWS outbound bandwidth is fairly expensive. One of the sites I manage is pushing >500gb per month outbound before going to CloudFlare which is being used as an inline CDN/loadbalancer.
  13. fly

    fly Active Member

    $45/mo seems reasonable to me. If that's expensive, I bet we could find some other areas in the Amazon stack where you could save money. For example, if you're not currently using something like Auto Scaling, that's a great place to save some cash. In the traditional datacenter infrastructure, you buy servers big enough to handle peak load and they lay dormant during low load times. With AWS, you scale up the number of servers when load is high, and scale back when load is low. Since you only pay for what you use, it tends to save money.
  14. Xon

    Xon Well-Known Member

    I was running the site on Digital Ocean for $50 per month for quite some time, and could have easily knocked it down to $40 per month without significantly impacting performance. And this is without being nicked & dimed for all the features AWS sells.

    AWS has it's uses, but their pricing model is quite complex and subject to a bewildering array of sudden cost increases.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
  15. fly

    fly Active Member

    That's the thing one thing that I wish AWS did better: educating people on how their pricing model really works. I don't think of it as being "nickled and dimed", but literally getting what you pay for. When DigitalOcean charges you $50/mo for their service, that price is based on if you consumed EVERYTHING. If you didn't, you ended up paying them more money than you had to. In exchange for that, you get the assurance that you won't ever have to pay more than that. I get that it can be a scary thought that your monthly bill is a question mark until it arrives. Amazon has ways around that though. You can of course manually check your monthly bill at any time. But they also offer free billing alerts, so that if your bill goes about $xx, they send you an email. There are NEVER surprises with AWS billing if you plan accordingly. Overall, it's a service that gives anyone access to enterprise class technology for pretty cheap.

    And you're right, Amazon probably can't compete if you just compare simple 1:1 compute prices. The two companies are targeting totally different markets. Amazon starts to get good when you can take advantage of the entire stack, not just compute. When you take EC2 (which is most comparible to DO) and add in S3, Cloudfront, RDS, Route 53, EBS, SNS, etc, you have an amazingly robust one-stop-shop toolset available to you. And that's where Digital Ocean doesn't compete.
    popowich likes this.
  16. dvduval

    dvduval Active Member

    I'm paying about $225/month for hosting of two forums on one server.
    Though the forums are by far the biggest resources, I have several other file/db pairs that would need to be moved also.
    Ex. Dance-forums.com/music

    Would be interested in what I would need to do.
  17. fly

    fly Active Member

    I can absolutely help you get that setup. YGPM.
  18. dvduval

    dvduval Active Member

    Oops, let's save all the info for PM
  19. Main Company

    Main Company Active Member

    We are about to take the plunge into AWS, and will be migrating ou Xenforo instance from a dedicated machine. Should be interesting.
    fly likes this.
  20. fly

    fly Active Member

    Awesome. Good luck!

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