web site back end help
September 11, 2012 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Trying to finalize infrastructure for my site selling software online...hoping you guys can help me understand and make some choices.

Hypothetically, let's say my site sells software where users upload images to see anywhere. (fortunately I'm not this uncreative, but similar infrastructure)

So users:
Users create usernames/passwords
Buy software (with a license)
Upload images (on site or within software)
Have their own pages of images in the application

So here's what I feel like I'm looking at:
Storage of images on server -> Amazon S3?
Payment gateway -> authorize.net
Merchant account
Usernames /passwords -> drupal (or from scratch?)
Shopping cart -> magento

Let me know if those are good, or there are other recommendations. Then just getting all these things to talk together to perform what I want.

There are so many hosting options, and I know MySQL support would be in that same package. I'm not sure if AWS does hosting...or maybe I could do rackspace hosting and store the images with them as well. Then there are issues like pci compliance for payments, and the licenses to put on the software (not sure if magento does that).

And, am I on the right track in thinking how this works? A web application in say PHP takes a username and password, goes into S3 and gets the images there that belong to that user, and spit them back to the webpage.

All in all it's very complicated, so I would appreciate any guidance you guys have.
posted by amsterdam63 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
There seem to be several carts in front of your horse here. Get a hosting account from Web Faction. Install Magento and Drupal to see what they do and decide one or the other solves enough of your need to the point where you just need a plugin written for one of them. But more than likely, throw them away and write this app from scratch using Python plus Django plus existing apps (i.e. plugins) for Django.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:47 AM on September 11, 2012

If an image is on Amazon S3, yes it can be directly accessed through HTTP and for example embedded into the HTML of a web page somewhere. s3fs, which allows an S3 bucket to be mounted as a file system on Unix-y operating systems, might be of interest. Every time an image is accessed by anyone over the web adds to your bandwidth usage fees, though.
posted by XMLicious at 11:21 AM on September 11, 2012

thanks for the input so far. So are you saying there's a more cost effective place to store the images than on S3, or will that be the case wherever I put them?
posted by amsterdam63 at 11:26 AM on September 11, 2012

If you put them on S3 and have only moderate web traffic, the cost is fine, but if someone's image goes viral or something like that and everyone on the internet looks at it there's no way, to my knowledge, of stopping your bandwidth or transaction charges from continuing to rack up. Where a normal web server would simply collapse under extreme load a robust service like S3 just absorbs the hit and you pay for whatever resources get used.
posted by XMLicious at 11:40 AM on September 11, 2012

Ah, I see what you mean...in my case the images would be private and secure to only those who uploaded it, so it sounds like S3 would still be a good solution. Thanks for the info.
posted by amsterdam63 at 11:46 AM on September 11, 2012

Google also offers Cloud Storage and so does Microsoft Azure. You could compare pricing with Amazon AWS S3.

You can also store images on ImageShack and Imgur but I'm not sure if you can do it for commercial purposes in an application in the way you subscribed.

As for selling your software, providing downloads, and distributing licenses, you could also consider using a hosted digital content ecommerce platform such as Fastspring.

It sounds like you are not an experienced programmer, and if that's the case, you might want to get some help somewhere, such as from a contractor on Elance.

You could also ask for help on Business of Software but I find a lot of the developers there tend to be snarky and negative (unlike Ask.Metafilter where people are so positive, encouraging, non-judgmental, and helpful).

The related OnStartups Q&A site might also be a good resource.
posted by Dansaman at 12:43 PM on September 11, 2012

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