eCommerce Migration From Server Box To The AWS Cloud

In 2004 having taken the reins of IT duties for Windy City Parrot, I moved the website from a desktop server under Catherine’s desk to a server somewhere that I forget, but within a few months enough web hosts pissed me off until I ended up on a Wolfpaw server in Tenafly, New Jersey.

We’ve been in the cloud for 15 years.

In 2005 when our Milwaukee Street (Chicago) facility burned to the ground.

Had our website been on Catherine’s desktop server with all the local backup we would have lost the entire website and would’ve had to start from scratch.

With the site on a remote server we just needed new computers so we could talk to the Internet once again.

We ended up moving away from Wolfpaw hosting because of Miva Merchant, our e-commerce platform at the time changed its business model which would have tripled our monthly hosting expense.

Windy City Parrot was reunited with Wolfpaw in 2016 for the Zen cart/WordPress build where we remained just whurring away on a server box until last week.

The cloud is much different today because back then Google, AWS and Microsoft were offering cheap processing on giant servers that can scale up on a moments notice.

Web server farm

This not only helps large corporations like Netflix but small potatoes like us because cutting-edge technology has been made affordable.

Below you find an email thread between me and Jeff Koch who owns Wolfpaw hosting.

Jeff Koch

8:23 AM (13 hours ago)

to Mitch, Catherine


How the internet works – video

On 8/25/2019 5:13 PM, Mitch Rezman wrote:

Sounds good. 

On Sun, Aug 25, 2019, at 4:12 PM Jeff Koch <[email protected]> wrote:

OK – we’ll start the backups tomorrow. We normally set the TTL on the DNS zone to 10 minutes during these migrations so the new IP address will be effective very quickly. 

I’ll keep you posted.

Best regards,

 Jeffrey Koch

Wolfpaw Hosting LLC

[email protected] 

On 8/25/2019 3:13 PM, Mitch Rezman wrote:

Great explanation – thank you!

Let’s do Wed, Our big marketing email deploys on Sunday mornings giving us enough time to fix anything beforehand.

No need to block as it may take time for the block to be lifted by the internet.


Mitch Rezman


Windy City Parrot where the sun never sets empire 46356



On Fri, Aug 23, 2019, at 5:18 PM Jeff Koch <[email protected]> wrote:

Hi Mitch:

After last February’s debacle, I vowed ‘Never Again’ and so far it’s worked out OK.

Fiber Optic Splicer

Fiber optic junction box (above)

(February 2019 workers cut the fiber optic uplink to Wolfpaw shutting all the servers down for almost 72 hours).

Yes, I think Amazon had a recent outage and Netflix was down for half a day. After that, the Google Cloud was down two months ago for four hours because some engineer entered the wrong code – and caused YouTube, Google Doc’s, GMail, Google Search, Slack and others to be off-line. But somehow I feel better knowing it’s not just me when that happens.

Both GCP and AWS create server instances in the cloud that simulate dedicated servers that are all fully isolated from each other. The resources are fully backed up with RAID arrays for disks and similar for CPU’s and RAM.

Everything is monitored so that when their systems sense that disk, ram or CPU is failing you are automatically (GCP is fully automatic, AWS you get an email asking you the restart the instance) shifted over to new hardware and the instance keeps running.

So you could say it’s like a virtual dedicated server but better in the sense that it is assembled from resources that exist throughout a massive data center rather segments of one server.

Editors note Windy City Parrot uses G Suite for our email and other uses.

On 8/23/2019 4:52 PM, Mitch Rezman wrote:

Sure, we both know we should be in need to be in the cloud and what could possibly go wrong?

At least we know no more uplink breaks.

Will this be a scaleable VPS now or still dedicated?

Do I need to redo my SPF/DKIM/DMARC settings?

Jeff writes

Although available (and expensive) In my mind there’s no point in getting a dedicated server because (a) you lose some of the advantages of the above and (b) with the above if you need more power you just dial it in.

We still take daily and weekly backups that are stored on multi-datacenter disk arrays. 

Your mail is handled by Gmail already and I don’t see anything in your SPF record that would need to change although I just updated your SPF record to allow mail from the website. DKIM is not affected by the location of the websites.

You don’t have a DMARC record but if you want one I’ll put it in.

Go to this URL to generate it.

Your old box will remain online for maybe a week after the move and then it will be in storage in our office. Not sure what to with all the physical hardware but I’ve got a boatload of servers and several 100K invested in that stuff. 

I’ve been running down to data centers in the middle of the night for almost twenty years – not sure how I’m going to live without that fun.

Anyway, you’ve got some big websites and I’d say we plan the migration for next Friday evening. You’ll know later that night or Saturday morning if there’s a problem and we can fire up the old server, if necessary. If you like, we can block access to only your IP address until you’ve checked it out – that will make it easier to revert if we have to.  We can also do this Wednesday or Thursday evening if those are lower sales volume nights.

Let me know which days work best for you.


Best regards, 

Jeffrey Koch

Wolfpaw Hosting LLC

[email protected] 



Mitch Says

I would advocate my old box not go away until we are sure Chu’s Zen Cart/Wordpress Frankenstein survives.

My corollary to Murphy’s law:  Mr. Murphy was highly optimistic.  

Fun fact: Netflix is hosted on AWS


Mitch Rezman


Windy City Parrot where the sun never sets empire Tel: 312-492-9673

Mobile: (219) 401-5505


On Fri, Aug 23, 2019, at 12:53 PM Jeff Koch <[email protected]> wrote:

Hi Mitch:

We’re ready to migrate your server to AWS.

We have a server setup with PHP 5.6, Apache and MySQL. We’ve migrated about 30 servers so far to both AWS and the Google Cloud and it’s working out great. 

You have about 150 GB to transfer between the store and the blog.

The plan would be to a full backup while the store is running, upload that to the server – that would take about a day.

Then a day or two later in the evening stop the server (or put the sites into maintenance mode), do an incremental backup of the websites picking up anything new or changed and upload that to the new server along with the database dumps.

Then after loading all the backups we change IP addresses in the DNS and fire up the new server and have you check things out. 

Obviously there’s more to it under the hood but we’d like to get started.

Best regards, 

Jeffrey Koch

Hi Mitch – we are on schedule to do the migration tonight. The sites will be off-line for 60 – 90 minutes while we take final incremental backups of the websites and backup the database, upload these backups, expand all backups and finally put the files into place.nags, be done in time for you to still check things out.

Best regards,

Jeffrey Koch

Wolfpaw Hosting LLC

[email protected] 

I thought we’d start at around 9 pm EDT and, barring any snags

One hour after the migration completed:

Hey Jeff – The site can’t take money because it can’t resolve to the host!

Here was the problem (kind of)

There was an improper DNS setting

Jeff responded promptly after correcting the setting

I love moments of terror like this – glad I could fix it fast – but we could have always reverted.  🙂

Best regards, Jeff

On 9/4/2019 3:28 PM, Mitch Rezman wrote:

We went down for an hour Sunday nite but I think it was a hiccup – so yes retire the old server – thanx

Jeff Koch

4:37 PM (1 hour ago)to Mitch

You had two issues recently.

First, Sunday at around noon you started getting attacked from multiple IP addresses owned by the Huawei Cloud service in Hong Kong.

We ended up blocking those IP’s.

(Yeh, THAT Huawei)

Second, Monday night the apache web server program did not restart properly while working on the Webalizer statistics.

We put some extra code into that program which should cause apache to re-try the start.

With respect to the first issue, we’ve had good success using the Cloudflare CDN that would handle DDOS (Distributed Denial oService) attacks mitigating service for websites that get attacked frequently.

Basically you sign up for their $20/month plan and they act as an intermediary between the website and the world.

They block attacks while at the same time allowing good traffic through. 


Cloudflare is a CDN

Best regards,


On Wed, Sep 4, 2019, at 2:20 PM Jeff Koch <[email protected]> wrote:

Hi Mitch:

The new server seems to be working OK. Any problem if we take down the old server?

Mitch writes 


BTW I looked at Cloudflare

Their $20/mo plan is not effective for our 5000 + pages

In that WordPress (our traffic magnet) is a subdomain they require a complicated matrix of Anames and very specific security protocols.

I tried StackPath CDN, they crashed the site 5 times in 12 hours trying to get everything to work

I’m going to build a new site that requires little to no coding. 

I know, “good luck with that”.


Thursday morning after the migration, our “Store Manager” would not connect to the site – here’s how that was fixed.

Hi Mitch:

Catherine says the store manager now works.

We have the firewall at the server opened for access to the database access only for IP address

Please find out if this is a static IP address because otherwise it will change periodically and access to the database will be cut off.

We would prefer not to open access to your database to the world – that would be dangerous to your website – and a vector by which hackers could create problems. 

The other alternative is to sign up for a VPN service with a static IP. That would allow you to tunnel all your internet activity (office, laptop, home) through the VPN and show up as using one of their static IP addresses.

VPN’s are also good for security since they create an encrypted connection from your PC through the tunnel.

Hi Jeff


We’ll just leave it to work as it is 

I am not going to ask Comcast anything in the foreseeable future

We have 2 Comcast accounts (on 2 modems) coming into the new space in Indiana because of contractual obligations
She’ll be fine having it in retail and shipping.
I tried VPNs – way too slow.
Our data right now is on AWS and Googles G Suite – I think we’ll be fine thanx

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