- 7 min read
Migrating a WordPress Website to AWS: Advantages & Challenges
Let’s start with some numbers…
Imagine, 64% of all CMS-based and 28% of all e-commerce websites worldwide are based on WordPress, ranging from small blogs to world-famous brand websites with millions of visits every day. Therefore, it’s easy to conclude that WordPress is a dominant website platform and a very scalable one should the proper infrastructure and resources come in place. And that’s where cloud hosting services come into play.
Cloud computing is becoming an indispensable tool for companies seeking to improve scalability, business continuity, and cost-efficiency in the post-pandemic paradigm. According to Statista, the global cloud market reached $130 billion in 2020.
The industry’s early leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is still ahead of the race with a 32% market share — probably one of the reasons why many businesses choose AWS to migrate a WordPress website to.
In this article, we’ll look closer at the advantages of moving a website to the world’s most broadly adopted cloud platform, as well as some common challenges associated with the process.
While both WordPress and AWS are excellent platforms and undoubtedly leaders in their respective areas, they do not always make a proper fit. Therefore, before we proceed to the benefits AWS offers to WordPress website owners, let’s define some of the major factors indicating that AWS might be a good solution for your WP site.
Checklist: Should I migrate my WordPress website to AWS?
The answer is likely to be positive if you have check-marked all or some of the following criteria:
- A website gets a significant traffic boost (hundreds of thousands of daily visits) and quickly grows in complexity.
- Frequent or regular traffic spikes (the number of requests for your web pages increases and decreases sharply.)
- Demand for high availability (HA) (a configuration designed to operate steadily without failing.)
- Implementation of a custom website management strategy you have in mind (e.g., installing themes and plugins without using the WP administration panel.)
- You run a worldwide website with a significant amount of media hosted and need to provide low-latency access across the globe.
Advantages of Migrating WordPress to AWS
If scalability, performance, and resiliency are on top of the list for your WordPress website hosting requirements, AWS is definitely an option to consider seriously. First, let’s evaluate the main characteristics of the site after moving to the cloud.
An abundance of content, plugins, and “heavy” theme configurations may often result in the website’s performance decrease, which can be especially harmful to e-commerce and other kinds of business websites. Even after a site is properly cleaned, the negative effect can remain, mainly when there are no available options to upgrade hardware and, in this way, improve its performance.
A cloud platform is an effective way to achieve better performance and ground further website growth instantly. AWS provides various configuration options based on efficiency and performance. The most valuable part is that the platform’s pay-as-you-go model enables a website owner to only pay for resources their website requires.
Cost-efficiency and flexibility
First and foremost, AWS is way less expensive than building your server infrastructure. Its flexibility allows the service to tailor to the needs of your business, rather than the other way around. For example, you can start from a simple, single-server setup on Amazon Lightsail (a service allowing you to launch a virtual private server quickly) and add more services as the number of users, content, plugins, and custom website solutions increases. And it’s worth emphasizing that with AWS, there’s no need to pay for reserved assets that you may never use — you only pay for the resources you’re using.
That said, the platform’s cost-effective capabilities are most prominent for large projects.
The more WordPress services providers you work with, the less control you have over your website management process. Website owners with poor technical skills are often entirely dependent on hosting providers, hence, having limited access to the server or not having it whatsoever.
While many hosting providers offer quite rich server management options, we believe that total control is preferable in the long run when it comes to running a business.
Moving to AWS guarantees you full server access, as well as complete control over the DNS and email servers, file transfers, backups, SSL, and more.
An unstable server platform may cause serious trouble for businesses to access their data. The AWS systems tackle this problem with the concept of Availability Zones (AZs) — isolated locations within data center regions. The key infrastructure building blocks in AWS, Availability Zones, ensure better HA, fault tolerance, and scalability than what a single data center allows.
This type of infrastructure enables faster global data delivery without affecting service availability or performance.
Data security has always been among business owners’ primary concerns, especially when a move to the cloud is on the agenda. Well, AWS offers a lot to ease the worry, guaranteeing that all the data on their servers is safe and secure. There are data centers around the world that provide robust data protection and backup for recovery when needed. You always own your data, having complete control over its encryption, moving, and retention management.
Moreover, AWS allows you to automate manual security tasks to focus on developing your business rather than investing resources in essential data protection.
Is your WordPress website an easy target for malicious attacks?
The experts at Beetroot suggest at least 16 proven practices for strengthening your website security. Ensure you use them all to make your WordPress website safe and sound.
Migration to the cloud offers more opportunities for business growth in the long run. Besides, suppose sustainability is among your company’s strategic priorities. In that case, an appealing fact to know is that the AWS infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy-efficient than the median enterprise data center in the United States, according to 451 Research. In addition, the AWS facilities perform on the same level as traditional data centers leaving an 88% lower carbon footprint.
The Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI) aims to accelerate sustainability research and innovation by minimizing the cost and time required to collect and analyze large datasets. In addition, ASDI supports innovators and researchers with the data, tools, and technical knowledge they need to take sustainability to the next level.
Challenges of moving to AWS and how to solve them
Migrating your WordPress website(s) to the cloud is a somewhat complex process. Below we list some of the typical challenges you may run into in your AWS migration project and suggest solutions to them.
Managing your costs
As we already mentioned, cloud infrastructure is dynamic, and your costs can fluctuate as you add new services or scale up your business. While this flexibility is a particular benefit, it can create unpleasant surprises in your accounting books when not managed properly. Besides, cost planning is critical to understanding whether migration was successful from a business perspective.
- Approach cloud migration with some clear goals and KPIs.
- List and analyze the benefits of some new capabilities that moving to the cloud can bring you and what expenses are connected with the process.
- Monitor your costs permanently and compare them with the initial cost model to promptly prevent and eliminate undesired deviations.
Moving your database to AWS is a complex process, which usually includes lots of steps, including but not limited to assessment, script conversion, data migration, functional testing, and performance tuning. This task may be overwhelming even to your tech team, especially if cloud computing is not something they’ve previously dealt with.
Solution: conduct a pre-migration audit to determine the size, schema, and tables of your database, as well as understand your network and overall requirements for your migration project. This step will help you better estimate the data copying time and figure out the talent you need to complete the migration project most effectively.
No out-of-the-box migration services
While providing an extensive technical documentation base, AWS offers no default support or inclusive migration services. Besides, Amazon has dozens of products that even developers (with no severe background in cloud services) may find difficult to keep up to.
Solution: Before approaching the cloud migration, make sure you have a highly skilled cloud engineer on your team with expertise in such areas as data storage, networking, virtualization, Linux, web services and API, DevOps, and of course, AWS per se. Specific programming skills, such as SQL and Python, are highly desirable for a cloud engineer.
Product-wise, Amazon Lightsail is the easiest and the most cost-efficient way to get started with AWS and move your WordPress website to the cloud. As a single-server deployment, however, it may become insufficient as your system grows. Still, AWS enables you to apply several performance and cost efficiencies before migrating to a multi-server deployment.
Different security properties
You must also revamp the security methods in a new cloud environment. This is because the way it works in the cloud environment differs drastically from the on-premises security specifics. So it would help if you kept in mind that as you move applications to the cloud, the initial security strategies and tools don’t go along with them.
Solution: list the security and compliance requirements of your website migration project. Align your plan with Amazon’s cloud security guidelines and use relevant AWS services to ensure enhanced security in the cloud.
A new range of tech skills
To successfully migrate your WordPress website(s) to AWS and drive continued economic value out of it, you will need to hire cloud engineers specializing in AWS or provide some additional education to your current tech team members. However, with more than 30 services on the plate (each containing 100+ features), AWS has a high expertise threshold and a rather steep learning curve.
Even a single-server deployment on Amazon Lightsail requires an experienced web admin to complete as even small misconfigurations (e.g., in the server-side directives through SSH console) can lead to inadequate server memory consumption and even crashes.
Solution: if you have a full-fledged IT team, interview your team lead to evaluate whether additional training can fill some knowledge gaps in a time-efficient manner. If not, consider augmenting your tech team with an external engineer(s) or outsourcing your WP to AWS migration project altogether.
Cloud migration may not sound easy, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to moving WordPress to the cloud. However, if your business goals are ambitious and sustainable, it’s undoubtedly an option to consider.
Whatever stage of your cloud migration project you’re at, Beetroot’s experts are here to help. Schedule a free consultation to find out how we can assist you in moving a WordPress website to AWS for maximum ROI.