WARNING THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS GRATUITOUS TECHNOLOGY, SOFTWARE AND BABBLE FROM THE START.
I thought it was about time I did one of those posts that every developer seems to write at some point. So here comes a super interesting post on my infrastructure and the stuff I use. I won’t judge you if you drop off now…….still with me? I shall begin.
As an ex-IT Manager I have a little bit of love for server type stuff. I’ve been through all kinds of systems in the last few years and think I am finally in a happy position with the setup I am using.
WordPress powers almost everything I do. From client sites to my own site. It is what I do, regular visitors will know this from my normal posts, what you may not know is what I use behind it!
DNS – Amazon Route 53
Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) web service. It is designed to give developers and businesses an extremely reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications by translating human readable names like www.example.cominto the numeric IP addresses like 192.0.2.1 that computers use to connect to each other.
What they said. It’s brilliant, easy to use, cheap as chips and super reliable. The management interface is nice and easy to use and they have really good documentation. I’ve been slowly migrating all my domains over to Route 53 for the DNS hosting after a bit of a nightmare with my hosting provider. It’s rock solid and you get a range of options including weighted and latency based DNS depending on what infrastructure you have your apps and sites running on. Latency will actually allow you to, when using EC2 instances, serve the requests from the EC2 zone that has the lowest latency for the user. It all adds up to a great starting point for your setup whatever hosting and email systems you have hanging off of it. Go check out Amazon’s Route 53 for yourself!
Email – Google Apps
Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps you and your team connect and get work done from anywhere on any device. It’s simple to setup, use and manage, allowing you to work smarter and focus on what really matters.
Email, Calendar, Contacts and Google Drive allows me to have stable and highly available systems for email and productivity. Google recently announced that they were no longer offering their free version of Google Apps which is a shame however at only $50 per year for a single user it really is super cheap. Using Route 53 and Google Apps means your email will almost never be down or unavailable. This is super important to me and is often the problem with some developers and companies, they have a single server that does their DNS, email and hosting one big single point of failure. Google Apps plays nice with iPhone and iPad and obviously works well on Android based devices and their web interface is one of the best out there. Google Drive is a nice little addition although not without it’s own bugs. I currently seem to get logged out of the Mac App if I sign in on more than one device. Seems a little silly to me.
All that aside Google Apps for me is the best email and productivity suite I have used when coupled with the Google Apps Market Place you get access to a bucket load more applications that all work seamlessly (well not all of them) using a single login. What’s not to like? Find out more about Google Apps for yourself.
Hosting – WPEngine
I’ve already reviewed WPEngine in a previous post. You can check out my WPEngine review here. I’ve been with them now for a few months and have nothing but praise for them. Fast, reliable and easy. I don’t have to worry about caching or backups and the page speeds are a massive improvement on the hosting I was on previously. Sure it costs a little bit more money, but you really do get what you pay for. I’m currently moving client sites to WPEngine and seriously cannot recommend them enough. Check out WPEngine yourself for a risk free 60 day trial.
Fallback Hosting – Amazon S3
WPEngine is rock solid but accidents do happen. I have a simple fall back plan though. The TTL of my main domain name is fairly short so in the event of my hosting dying on me I can easily and quickly redirect traffic to a static site hosted on Amazon S3. Being able to host static sites on Amazon S3 is really useful. Check out this guide on how to get started.
Billing and Accounting – Freeagent
I’ve been using Freeagent for all my billing and accounting for the last couple of years now. It integrates nicely with PayPal and my own bank and not allows me to easily track what is coming in but is going out. It features project based billing, time tracking and billing, estimates and invoices which can all then be directly reconciled against your bank feed (if you have a supported bank) or by simply uploading an export from your online banking system.
You can get a free 30 day trial and if you use the links in this article you will also get a 10% discount if you continue to use the service. This has saved me so much time over the last couple of years freeing me up to spend time on actually working!
Sharing and Storage – Dropbox
The absolute mack daddy when it comes to online storage and file sharing. Dropbox is used by millions, cheaper than Starbucks and allows you to store and share files easily. I’ve been using it forever and whilst I have an Amazon S3 account Dropbox makes it super easy to sync my files between multiple devices and allows me to share files with clients and colleagues. We all know the deal by know you get 2GB for free and can pay a bit to get more space. Use my link and you get an extra 500MB.
We all have our favourite tools, a few of mine are listed above. I plan on doing another post in the future about my workflow and will talk about my development environment, version control and all that good stuff. For now I hope the above is useful, or at least gives you something to do for a few minutes!