What makes it important for a normal web developer or just user to go after a specific hosting service? The answer, of course, cannot be given in one way only, but I think it is important to know the different aspects of the user-leading components.
Probably, one of the most important considerations would the reputation of the web host. Secondly it may be the friendliness of the host, including the host’s website design, the billing system, the software it offers and the software it uses for its automotive activities.
In the times, when the companies started to offer more and more technological services and put the key to importance into delivering the hosting as well designed and user friendly system – it became evident that the so called hosting control panels will be the part that will put away or attract, or at least keep the customers.
We have seen many control panels – some big companies even decided to go and develop their own automation systems for the management of the clients, which lead to market saturation in this segment too.
Of course, depending on the specific business model and orientation – the biggest part of the web host went for using ready-to-deploy hosting panels for its shared hosting needs.
The likes of Ensim, cPanel, DirectAdmin and Plesk were the ones that lead the technological ways at the beginning of this century. There were and many open source panels, that could not, and still cannot make rivalries, because of the lack of support, development processes or just the panel’s architecture itself.
Nowadays, we are becoming more and more pretentious as customers and what the industry needed to do is to offer some kind of standardization or at least some major improvements of the hosting software it offers.
What future holds?
One of the steps was to introduce the software packages (libraries) coming with each panel, that as the companies says “will ease” the client experience and will provide more opportunities and options for any site developer or owner.
The next step was the introduction of more and more functionality inside the control panel – by adding different frameworks, newest version of the software, multiple website support, multiple-user interface, reseller options, even overselling option :).
All this is fine and made the eventual peak of this part of the hosting industry – most of the hosts were using cPanel or Plesk (because of the efforts of the mother companies or just marketing) and if you are host who wants to be on the top, you need huge investments for developing and marketing your own software or just go and use the industry leaders.
From customer’s point of view, if most people use cPanel, why would bother using something else (which proved to be wrong is lots of cases)?! But still, if you don’t use Plesk or cPanel, a very big part of the potential clients will stay away from you.
As everything, this will change – in a positive way probably and I will never stop talking about something that is the most important thing in every business or area of life – Standards.
At the Parallels summit, this subject was welcomed by most of the participants and I hope it will stay alive for as long as it becomes reality. The web hosting industry needs quality, high standards, rules. Either way, it will stay the way it is – highly saturated and unstable.
We have seen hosts come and go – it will be the same with the hosting control panels. Most of them will pass away or as its the case of Parallels – they will just buy all others. Actually, they did – excluding cPanel, but who knows :)!.
I think that I will be fine with this as long as the standards are introduces and the companies are respecting this. Of course this is only one part of the picture. The other may be the fact that one or two big players will hold the whole industry and will possibly lead to monopolization and law suits in the future. But still, the main focus, apart from making more money, should be offering the customers enough, but quality resources that will provide the web hosting market with defined rules and only the price and the business model will differentiate the web hosting companies.