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Moving to AWS

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As I mentioned in a previous thread, our kindly little community has, with the continued popularity of XIV and the quality of our RP, finally expanded to the point where we no longer fit neatly into our existing hosting plan. So, after reviewing all of the options, I'm going to begin the process of moving the RPC to Amazon's cloud.


Why are you doing this? First, we're regularly hitting restrictions put in place by our current web host. This appears as slow response times and 500 errors as they terminate our processes. Also, sharing a host with other sites invariably reduces performance.


Second, by moving to a virtual server in the cloud, we get full authority over the site. This means more regular software updates, a real test environment for changes, more space for uploads, and the like. A nice plus is that I can also more easily do web development and play with some things in my preferred development language (C#).


Third, we can expand (or shrink!) our virtual server more or less at will on AWS. If we run out of disk space, a few clicks buys us more. This is a lot easier than migrating hosting plans.


Finally, in the event that I should have to depart as admin, "handing over the keys" in AWS is quite simple. While I'm not planning on going anywhere for a while, succession is always something to keep in mind.


What does this mean for users? Most immediately, there may be unexpected downtime as I move various bits and pieces off our current web host. I'll try to keep downtimes as short as possible, but as I don't have any real control over their server, these may come and go. (Cynically, I might note that we're currently already having unexpected downtime from CPU and memory restrictions on the account, so who'll really notice?) As much as possible, though, I'll try to keep things seamless so nobody notices any changes.


There will be a few hours of downtime when I make the final move to AWS, as I need to stop all writes to the database and file system to get a consistent snapshot of the site. This downtime may be as simple as making everything read-only, or it might require taking the site down entirely. I'll announce that as we get closer to that date.

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To answer the last question first, right now, we're on the smallest hosting plan our host provides, which is a little more than $8 per month. Obviously, that ain't working for us. :) Our AWS spend will probably be around $50ish per month, which is about par for the course for a virtual private server in the cloud with managed database services. (I spend $49/mo on a frankly crappy VPS with another provider for my personal web site.)


That said, at this time, while I appreciate the thought, I'm not accepting donations towards the site's costs as I can handle the hosting costs myself. If things should change and I need to hand out the collection plate to avoid putting up ads, I'll let everyone know. :)

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