Head in the clouds: Amazon s3 and CloudFront with Joomla! and PHP

I’m managing a LAMP server on a virtual dedicated setup and have recently run into some performance issues. During periods of higher user visits the CPU usage shoots up This could be partly because of the platform running on it, but I’m not sure that the PHP scripting is the root cause.

To alleviate some of my concerns, I’ve moved most of the static images, css, and javascript over to Amazon s3 and set up a CDN for that data with CloudFront. It’s fast. Really fast compared to what we’re used to. It has drastically helped load times and from what I can tell it is improving the performance of the site altogether by reducing the load on the server.

Caching is out in full force for the main joomla site while the content being served from amazon s3 is gzipped, minified, and speedy. I’m still working through YSlow to get things even more streamlined, but I’m more satisfied now than before.

I was using a minify component to grab scripts on-the-fly and combine them but that’s just a nightmare for performance so I’m going to revamp and get the remainder of those files out to the CDN and compressed.

For those who are interested, I’m serving gzipped js and css but using some varied methods also depending on if the connection is secure or not. Since S3 does not function over https using cnames, I had to set up a check to see which URL to use for my CDN files.

Something like this did the trick for my Joomla! template (placed in the template’s index.php):

//check to see if the browser supports gzip content
$gz = strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING'], 'gzip') !== false ? 'gz' : '';
if ($_SERVER['HTTPS'] != "on") {
//insert your code to execute over http here
$document->addStyleSheet('https://yourbucketname.s3.amazonaws.com/templates/css/style.'.$gz.'css');
}
else{
//enter your https code here
$document->addStyleSheet('http://cdn.yoursite.com/templates/css/style.'.$gz.'css');
}

I’ve got this loading the CNAME urls such as cdn.yourdomain.com/css/style.gzcss for the non-secure connection but using the secure URLS that amazon provides for the secure connection.

And no, style.gzcss is not a typo. There were issues with how the browser was grabbing files with the regular style.gz.css extension, even when I had set the content-encoding to gzip and the content-type to text/css. This has worked for me, but there may be a more elegant solution floating around. Cloudberry explorer has been a great asset in doing this quickly and efficiently.