AWS not for everyone

A website I was recently working on gave me an opportunity to get familiar with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that I have never used before. I knew nothing about it apart from its existence, so I was not particularly pleased to discover that it is not a typical web hosting, as I expected, but basically a virtual machine that I had to set up from scratch myself. I have had no choice, as this is what I have been given to deal with.

After a few days of fighting against the resistance of matter I have managed to set up an Apache server with PHP and MySQL, so I could upload the website (this video-tutorial was really helpful with the basics). Unfortunately the mail service integration turned out to be a challenge that I failed to fully succeed, but not because of lack of trying. I have actually managed to make the whole system working, so the website could send emails, which all, unfortunately, were ending up in the spam folder. It turned out that “sending emails from EC2 instances is limited by Amazon and strictly throttled at network level”, as you can read in this thread at Stack Overflow. I can understand the reasons, but it was not the kind of experience I would expect as a web developer.

And that is the main problem. What I have done is not the end but the beginning of the trouble really. Someone has to administer the server and the website on the daily basis, and it cannot be a person without a skill-set from a system administrator area of expertise. Such person in the UK will ask for at least 25k p.a., so it is not an option for a small business with a single website subsidiary to its main activities. Thus next time I agree to build a website, one of the first question to ask will be about this part of the story. My fault I have not done it this time, but we all make mistakes, the important part is to learn a lesson from that for the future.

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