July 14 2022

Use Amazon Lightsail to save costs and install major CMSs like WordPress

Amazon AWS is very expensive and not always suitable for installing WordPress, let's see the benefits we can get from Amazon LightSail.

Amazon LightSail Banner

We have always praised the infinite options that Amazon AWS has together with the whole family of products and services of which we have given an exhaustive description on our previous post in which we went to give the description of Amazon AWS and all its services.

In doing this and listing the privileges, however, we could not help but point out how the costs of Amazon AWS are on average at least four times the amount of other Hosting solutions dedicated and that only under certain conditions Amazon AWS is recommended and can bring advantages over alternative dedicated solutions.

By virtue of this and with the pride of being primarily a hosting company and independent vendor consultancy, we have always evaluated requests and advised customers as if their business were ours with a view to not giving in to compromises between quality. and savings, but always try to find the most economical solution with the same qualitative conditions.

In fact, it often happens that some customers are initially followed by important and famous consultancy companies that, not knowing the panorama of commercial offers at the datacenter level and outsourcing services, simply go to provide themselves with what is de facto today a top player in the range of IT services, namely Amazon AWS.

After months or years, however, especially when the projects are not booming, the costs of Amazon AWS they certainly make themselves felt.

In short, does it make sense to spend around € 450 per month (an unfavorable euro-dollar ratio) for a Cloud instance of this caliber?

CostsAmazon AWS WordPress" width="727" height="658" />

We are talking in detail about an instance just sufficient to manage in an almost elegant way a LAMP type instance in which you have to manage a webserver, a PHP interpreter, and a database.

More specifically, here are the characteristics and specifications of the instance in question:

  • M4.xlarge machine
  • 4 cpu 2,4GHz Intel Xeon E5-2676 v3 **
  • 16gb of ram
  • 50GB ssd
  • Bandwidth 750 (Mb / s)

And to think that with € 250 per month we would have sold him a latest generation AMD EPYC 7502P 32core / 64 thread processor, 128GB RAM DDR4, 2 960GB nVME disks in RAID1 and 1GB / s of burstable bandwidth, half of the expenditure for approximately four times the performance.

However, we know that between saying and doing there are often motivations that go far beyond the analysis of requirements and systems competence. Very often, in fact, we realize that the use of certain brands have specific constraints that derive more from managerial aspects than from technical or technological aspects and everyone is absolutely aware of this, and accepts it because the game requires you to play with those rules.

When you are forced to use Amazon AWS?

Except that you do not need to scale the number of instances horizontally very quickly, there is no real obligation in using AWS, much less when you hear about self-styled systems experts recommending AWS because they can scale the single instance from 2 cores to 32 with a simple click maybe for black friday.

To hear them speak these expert consultants are good and virtuous, but they are forgetting or omitting that 2 cores on a Cloud instance are insufficient for almost all needs in the real world and cost a good 37 dollars a month (traffic excluded and to be calculated at part), figure with which you could afford a dedicated 12 thread and with 64Gb of RAM for example and well 50TB of traffic at 1gb / s included.

Amazon AWS it is used to create complex architectures with dynamic real-time allocation of resources and not the company website of the company on duty, Magento, WooCommerce or Prestashop ecommerce for example.

However, there are situations where AWS is an obligation because it is mandated by management. The reasons may be different, such as the large company that wants to consolidate Amazon AWS among its suppliers, or the small startup that needs to "dress and look good" to their investors to find funds and be able to carry on the project.

We have written a specification guide on how to save with Amazon AWS, and yet we forgot to give useful advice on how to manage costs for all those who need to use Amazon AWS as an instance to run a Hosting for a WordPress site, a Hosting for a Prestashop e-commerce, a Magento e-commerce and the CMS currently in vogue, or the use of Amazon LightSail that allows you to stay connected to the world of Amazon AWS (and continue to make a good impression with investors), however, significantly reducing the costs that you would have incurred, for example by using Amazon EC2 instances (Elastic Cloud).

What is Amazon LightSail?

Amazon Lightsail is one of the newest services in the AWS Compute product suite . Amazon Lightsail is ideal for users who don't have deep AWS technical experience as it makes it easy to provision compute services .

Amazon Lightsail provides developers with compute, storage and networking capabilities and the ability to deploy and manage websites, web applications, and databases in the cloud. Amazon Lightsail includes everything you need to get your project started quickly: a virtual machine, SSD-based storage, data transfer, DNS management, and a static IP.

Amazon Lightsail provides private servers virtual (instances) preconfigured that include everything needed to deploy an application or create a database.

The following animated screenshot explains creating an instance using the Lightsail dashboard.

Amazon Light Sail


The underlying infrastructure and operating system are managed by Amazon Lightsail. Additionally, Lightsail provides a simple management interface.

It is best suited to projects that require a few dozen instances or less. WordPress blogs, websites, web applications, e-commerce, etc. these are just a few examples of smart use on Amazon LightSail rather than EC2.

Lightsail supports public APIs. You can manage your Lightsail resources using the Lightsail console, Lightsail API, AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), or SDKs.

But Lightsail has some limitations and indeed it is limited to 20 Amazon Lightsail instances, 5 static IPs, 3 DNS zones, 20 TB of block storage, 40 databases, and 5 load balancers per account. In addition Up to 20 certificates per calendar year.

It connects with each other and with other AWS resources over the public Internet and private networks (VPC peering).

The Lightsail application model includes WordPress, WordPress Multisite, Drupal, Joomla !, Magento, Redmine, LAMP, Nginx (LEMP), MEAN, Node.js and more. Additionally, Lightsail currently supports 6 distributions similar to Linux or Unix: Amazon Linux, CentOS, Debian, FreeBSD, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu, plus 2 versions of Windows Server: 2012 R2 and 2016 .

Amazon LightSail database

Amazon Lightsail databases are instances dedicated to running databases. The database can contain multiple user-created databases and can be accessed using the same tools and applications used with a standalone database. Lightsail-managed databases provide an easy, low-maintenance way to store your data in the cloud.

Lightsail fully manages a variety of maintenance and security tasks for your database and its underlying infrastructure.

Lightsail automatically backs up the database and allows point-in-time recovery of the last 7 days using the database recovery tool.

It supports the latest major versions of MySQL. Currently, these versions are 5.6, 5.7 and 8.0 for MySQL.

Databases are available in Standard and High Availability plans.

AWS supports managed databases in standard and high availability Lightsail tiers. This simplifies the process of selecting MySQL databases, as well as the efforts to start, protect, monitor and maintain those repositories. High availability plans add redundancy and durability to the database by automatically creating a standby database in a separate Availability Zone.

The service automatically maintains a seven-day sequential backup of the database, and developers can configure longer backups with snapshots, which are billed separately. These bundles are more expensive than Linux or Windows instances and have much more limited transfer quotas.

The high availability tier adds support for redundancy and failover to servers organized in different Amazon Availability Zones. Standard managed databases start at $ 15 per month for 1GB of RAM, 40GB of storage, and 100GB of data transfer, and go up to $ 115 per month for 8GB of RAM, 240GB of storage, and 200 GB of data transfer. High availability levels are priced twice as high as these rates.

Lightsail-managed databases do not provide the same level of performance or throughput that larger databases, such as MongoDB or Cassandra, might require. EC2 instances with IOPS-provisioned SSD storage are a better option than Lightsail in these cases.

Lightsail can work with other AWS database offerings. It supports Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Relational Database Service, and Amazon Aurora, but you may need to peer to a separate Amazon Virtual Private Cloud for it to work.

The peering technique can be used to connect to many, but not all, of the other AWS services. Peering is not required for subsets of smaller services, including Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront.

In terms of pricing, Lightsail are indeed very affordable. Lightsail plans are billed on an hourly rate on demand, so you only pay for what you use . For each Amazon Lightsail plan you use, they charge you the fixed hourly price, up to the plan's maximum monthly cost.

Amazon LightSail containers

Developers can use Lightsail containers as a relatively easy way to start uploading standard Docker or other container images to the cloud. However, this service does not have the detailed controls of Amazon Elastic Container Service or Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service.

Lightsail containers cost a lot more for raw resources. The basic container service costs $ 7 per month for a quarter of a virtual CPU with 512MB of RAM and goes up to $ 160 per month for four vCPUs with 8GB of RAM. An equivalent EC2 instance with four times the vCPUs costs $ 3,74 at the low end. A comparable EC2 instance would be $ 133 on the high end.

All container services come with a fixed transfer fee of 500GB per month, which would otherwise add $ 45 to the EC2 equivalent. While this may tip the scales in favor of Lightsail containers, the main benefit lies in making it easy to experiment with the basics of containers rather than cost savings.

Containers Lightsails

Why use Amazon LightSail?

Amazon Lightsail is for businesses that want to launch a server without having to process all the pricing, configuration, and management details associated with a typical AWS deployment.

Developers can use it to create simple projects, such as a blog, website, or basic e-commerce application, using standard applications and configurations. For example, to set up and configure a WordPress blog, simply select a platform and project, such as a preconfigured WordPress instance. The following diagram illustrates how the multimedia content is distributed within Lightsail using its load balancer, database and S3 for WordPress.

To do the same thing in EC2, you need to provision the instance, add Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) block storage or Amazon S3 object storage, provision the image, and then configure all the different resources and applications.

With Lightsail, the same basic model can be created in just a few clicks. This also makes it an interesting staging environment for testing new applications or features before deploying them to live instances.

Lightsail features a handful of options that can be implemented at a predictable monthly price. However, the service is not ideal for applications that require a highly configurable environment or consistently high CPU performance, such as video encoding or analytics.

Lightsail vs EC2: A Comparison of Features

Lightsail is designed for speed and simplicity. Instances run on EC2 and are bundled with other AWS resources, although those services are abstract, so they are not visible to the user.

The compact nature of Lightsail makes a 1 to 1 comparison with EC2 difficult. IT teams must connect AWS flagship compute service with any number of other AWS offerings, each with their own pricing structure, to create a viable environment for building and deploying applications.

For the purpose of this comparison, we will highlight some Lightsail features and compare them to what could be done natively in AWS when you use EC2 as your hub. All prices listed below are based on the US East region.

Calculate and block storage

When it comes to calculation options, there is no comparison. Lightsail has seven virtual server sizes; EC2 has more than 250. Lightsail reaches eight cores and 32GB of memory; EC2 instances can go up to 128 cores and 3.900 Gigabytes (GiB) of memory.

But, again, the point of Lightsail is not infinite options. If you want granularity and a wide range of configuration options, choose EC2.

In another way, Lightsail's solid state drive (SSD) size ranges from 20GB to 640GB. You have much more flexibility with EC2, but in most cases you need to order the attached instance storage separately via EBS. With Lightsail, this is all preconfigured.

Also, if your VPS instance is too large or you need more control, you can take a snapshot and export it to a new instance in EC2.

Lightsail container

Developers can use Lightsail containers as a relatively easy way to start uploading standard Docker or other container images to the cloud. However, this service does not have the detailed controls of Amazon Elastic Container Service or Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service.

Lightsail containers cost a lot more for raw resources. The basic container service costs $ 7 per month for a quarter of a virtual CPU with 512MB of RAM and goes up to $ 160 per month for four vCPUs with 8GB of RAM. An equivalent EC2 instance with four times the vCPUs costs $ 3,74 at the low end. A comparable EC2 instance would be $ 133 on the high end.

All container services come with a fixed transfer fee of 500GB per month, which would otherwise add $ 45 to the EC2 equivalent. While this may tip the scales in favor of Lightsail containers, the main benefit lies in making it easy to experiment with the basics of containers rather than cost savings.

Load Balancer / Load Balancer

Lightsail load balancers distribute traffic between instances in different Availability Zones (AZs). This solves scaling problems and improves performance and redundancy. Load balancing also handles certificate management.

However, Lightsail load balancers are not designed to handle high and constant traffic volumes. AWS recommends developers use EC2 with the Application Load Balancer instead for workloads involving the following:

  • manage more than 5 GB of data per hour;
  • have more than 400.000 new connections per hour; or
  • have more than 15.000 active connections running at the same time.

The Lightsail load balancer is priced at $ 18 per month. With EC2, developers can choose from Application, Network, Gateway and Classic Load Balancer. These services are charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, so the costs will depend on the amount of traffic processed.

Lightsail CDN

Developers can bundle a Lightsail CDN based on the Amazon CloudFront network to improve the performance of applications accessed around the world. This is useful for websites like a blog where resources like CSS, JavaScript code, graphics, and videos can be staged closer to users to reduce response times. This can also reduce the load on the server, improving overall performance.

CDN doesn't work for AWS resources beyond Lightsail. EC2 works directly with Amazon CloudFront or third-party CDN services and is best suited for complex setups or workloads that require a lot of requests or video streaming.

The lower tier of the Lightsail CDN offers 50GB per month free for the first year and then $ 2,50 per month thereafter. On the high end, 500GB costs $ 35 per month. For Amazon CloudFront, traffic is charged based on outbound data transfers and HTTP requests. The price of data transfer varies, with higher volume levels resulting in lower rates per gigabyte.

Lightsail vs EC2 pricing

Amazon Lightsail costs are lower for base resource utilization than on-demand instances in EC2. In terms of Linux / Unix, the smallest Lightsail instance, with 512MB of RAM and 20GB of SSD storage, costs $ 3,50 per month. This compares favorably to the EC2 equivalent, t3.nano, priced at $ 0,0052 per hour or about $ 3,74 per month. However, this type of instance does not include SSDs or data transfer costs. With a similar amount of SSD storage compared to the Lightsail package, the t3.nano comes in at $ 5,34 per month.

Amazon Lightsail - Amazon Web Services

On the high end, the $ 160-per-month Lightsail package that includes 32GB of RAM, 640GB of SSD storage, and 7TB of data transfer. This is comparable to the t2.2xlarge, which comes with 32 GiB of RAM for $ 267,26 per month or $ 318,50 per month with 640GB of SSD storage.

Transfers and other fees

Some outbound transfer fees are included with Lightsail but not with EC2. Lightsail packages include a 1TB to 7TB allowance of free data transfers, depending on instance size. EC2 instances still cost $ 0,09 per GB transferred after the first gigabyte. This could add up to an additional $ 90 for 1TB and $ 630 for 7TB of outbound data transferred per month.

The savings on data transfer are one of the biggest cost differentiators between Lightsail and EC2. Note that the benefits are considerably lower on other Lightsail services. However, it is not easy to dynamically increase or decrease Lightsail services in response to load, which could result in higher costs if you need to overprovision resources to prepare for spikes.

Conclusions on Amazon LightSail

We have seen in this post as though Amazon AWS standard (EC2) is quite expensive, Amazon LightSail can be an excellent and more affordable alternative for areas that involve installing CMS. However, even Amazon LightSail does not enjoy the best quality / price ratio especially when compared with other options available on the market.

If you need help understanding in detail how to best implement AWS for your business and needs, feel free to contact us.

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Managed Server Srl is a leading Italian player in providing advanced GNU/Linux system solutions oriented towards high performance. With a low-cost and predictable subscription model, we ensure that our customers have access to advanced technologies in hosting, dedicated servers and cloud services. In addition to this, we offer systems consultancy on Linux systems and specialized maintenance in DBMS, IT Security, Cloud and much more. We stand out for our expertise in hosting leading Open Source CMS such as WordPress, WooCommerce, Drupal, Prestashop, Joomla, OpenCart and Magento, supported by a high-level support and consultancy service suitable for Public Administration, SMEs and any size.

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