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Since the advent of internet technology, enterprises are continually dealing with increasing workloads or what is commonly known as the ‘big data’. Managing workloads include proper alignment of company data, resources and targeting them towards desired business outcomes.
For any organization, managing these workloads can be difficult sometimes, especially when it lacks the required IT skillset. Hiring or training the existing IT teams can be both time consuming and expensive.
Moreover, with the IT industry facing issues with digital transformation like transitioning from hardware or software solutions to as-a-service cloud solutions, they need help in selecting the right technology stack, its implementation and support to ease their transition. Here, the role of Managed Services Provider comes in.
Hosting and managed service providers play an active role when it comes to helping enterprises evaluate right digital transformation strategies, migrate workloads, managing networks and infrastructure, backed with securing data and applications.
There presents a vast set of opportunities for managed service providers with increasing application and infrastructure migration from on-premises to cloud.
The cloud managed services market size is projected to grow from USD 27.15 Billion in 2017 to USD 53.78 Billion by 2022, at an expected CAGR of 14.6%. – marketsandmarkets.com.
But, it’s important to know where and how opportunities are appearing and what will be the benefit to the early adopters.
Following are the top 5 trends in the managed services and hosting industry that will provide a guide to market opportunities for providers of these services:

1) Increasing Hosting and Cloud services spend

The enterprises will continue their shift towards Hosting and Cloud Services. A report by 451 Research (451 Global Digital Infrastructure Alliance) found that 53% of the survey respondents expect to see high spending on hosting and cloud in the coming 90 days while, only 3% expected a decrease.
Amongst this, SaaS and application hosting will incur major area of spending (51%), followed by infrastructure services (29%) and managed services (10%).
It will be a golden opportunity for the managed service providers, as the report also stated that users of SaaS and application hosting services will spend 59% on managed services.

2) Infrastructure monitoring and alerting is the most used managed service

The 451 Research report suggested that the infrastructure/application monitoring and alerting services will be the most used managed service, accounting for 53%. It will be followed by other managed services like Backup and Recovery (49%) and Disaster Recovery (41%).
This can be due to the increasing concerns for data security. Organizations look for reliable services that provide complete security to their valuable business data. Managed service providers by offering DR and Backup services ensure that the organization’s data is protected against any sudden disasters and is recoverable in case of any loss.

3) Growth in channel partner MSPs and M&As

MSPs will see a rise in the number of customers who look for complete technical support and migration apart from the basic implementation services. Some may even start running partner programs for their resellers to help them manage the end customers. This will help MSPs reach market faster.
SMB customers prefer a unified provider of services, hence Managed Services’ industry is witnessing increasing number of M&As (Mergers and Acquisitions). For this, the service providers need to re-align every business process and evaluate resources, lines of business, system integrations, brand value proposition etc. Both the organizations need to ensure their financial health and capacity before getting into any M&A activity.

4) Bundled IT solutions’ trend

Rise of new, innovative services in the cloud and hosting will be a normal affair. To accommodate all these services in a unified offering, MSPs have started offering bundled solutions.
“The markets for unmanaged IaaS and SaaS are dominated by large, hyper-scale vendors. However, this spending trend indicates there is an appetite for the type of bundled services a broader market of managed service providers are well positioned to deliver. A strong opportunity exists for service providers offering a diversified set of hosting and cloud services that includes infrastructure and application hosting, as well as managed services and security services delivered around them.” -Liam Eagle, Research Manager at 451 Research.
In the coming years, too, bundled solutions will be the good way to upsell and cross sell services. This is because they stand as enterprise-wide solutions, fulfilling all requirements at one place – a win-win solution for the end customer and the seller.

5) Shifting focus on hybrid and multi-cloud managed services

Earlier, enterprises went either to a privately hosted solution or a public cloud, but now they want to make use of mixed benefits of both, through hybrid cloud. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 90 percent of organizations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities.
The rise in the hybrid cloud adoption is making MSPs shift their focus towards the flexibility and versatility of hybrid cloud solutions. “As the demand for agility and flexibility grows, organizations will shift toward more industrialized, less-tailored options. Organizations that adopt hybrid infrastructure will optimize costs and increase efficiency. However, it increases the complexity of selecting the right toolset to deliver end-to-end services in a multi-sourced environment.” – DD Mishra, research director at Gartner.
Hybrid cloud can meet the needs of the cloud customers for a wholesome solution, while provide MSPs with various opportunities to provide the needed services, manage and support the multi-sourced hybrid environment.

Conclusion:

The trends are the results of emerging technological and customer demand changes in the market.
To succeed and thrive in this era of cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), AI, cybersecurity and always-on access to apps and data, MSPs need to identify trends faster and grab the opportunity before their competitors do.
Sources:

Content has been the most important part of any website from time immemorial. Organizations spend a considerable amount of time in coming up with some attractive content for their website. It has a direct impact on the sales and marketing of their product, as it lets users know what a product is and how it can be beneficial for them.
Content is not only the textual part we see on a website but includes other visual (videos, GIF) and aural (audio) elements as well. So, the question is, how does an organization manage its website content.
“Content is of great importance, but we must not underestimate the value of style.”– Maya Angelou.
The content needs to be presented, stored and managed in the most efficient way to reap the maximum benefits.
Here, a Content Management System (CMS) helps in managing content with complete flexibility and security.
What is a CMS platform?
A content management system is a software application that helps to upload, edit or manage content exhibited on a website. It also manages how the content interacts with other elements of the site. It helps businesses in:
  • Increasing the efficiency with simple publishing, editing, and revisions of content, even without requiring any knowledge about the backend coding.
  • Using effective methods to improve the SERP ranking of the website or blogs published.
  • Maintaining the content workflow of the business.
  • Solidifying the product branding.
  • Multi-user CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento are some of the most popularly used platforms for content management. All of them are open-source and are built on PHP + MySQL platform with differing features and flexibilities.
  • Companies and individuals many times face the challenge of choosing the right CMS platform. Hence, we have come up with a quick CMS platform comparison based on different parameters.
WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal vs Magento
WordPress
WordPress is an open source CMS platform that is used around the world for running everything from a simple fashion site to a fortune 500 company site. It was founded in 2003, and had a very limited number of users at that time, as compared to 68 million websites utilizing it today. It began operations as a simple blogging platform but soon developed enough to manage a full-fledged website. Some of the advantages of WordPress are:
  • User-friendly interface: It has a very simple to use interface and even a non-technical person can start using it. This is the reason why it is being used as a major blogging platform. Built-in themes, plugins, and installations further improve the flexibility.
  • Support for multi-authors: WordPress supports multi-author functionality -something that most of the blogging platforms need.
  • Great SEO functionalities: It supports auto-optimization using plugins like All in One SEO. With SEO in place, anyone can easily start blogging within minutes.
  • Customization capabilities: WP supports easy customization, anyone with a simple know-how of HTML and CSS can start customizing themes as per requirement.
It provides a number of plug-ins that can be used for extending various functionalities.
Joomla
Joomla is an open-source, powerful CMS platform supporting websites and online applications’ development. It started its journey in 2005 and since then has supported a myriad of individual users and organizations in building anything from a personal blogging site to a company website. It also extends capabilities to third-party plugins and extensions for improved user experience. Some of its advantages are:
  • Easy to use: It is quite easy to use but also requires a bit of an effort when a user starts working on it for the first time.
  • Powerful functionalities: Joomla was initially launched as an enterprise-grade CMS platform and thus has the capability to manage more content volume than any other CMS platform.
  • Strong extensions: Joomla has divided its extensions into five sections – templates, components, plugins, languages, and modules with differing power and capability.
  • Developer community: Joomla has a very strong developer community who constantly work towards bringing new capabilities to the software.
Drupal
Drupal started its journey from early 2001 which makes it one of the oldest CMS platforms around. Being based on PHP and MySQL, it is also a popular choice for many websites and developer communities. Its strength lies in the user-friendly interface and strong SEO capabilities which help websites rank higher in search engine ranking. It can control hundreds and thousands of pages with ease and complete flexibility. Some of the major advantages are:
  • Multiple functionalities: Drupal contains a lot of features like advanced menu management, graphics modification tools, poll management and others.
  • Supports various content types: It is known for its ability to support a lot of content variants like text, video, polls, podcast, statistics, and blogs etc.
  • Documentation support: To facilitate content management, it also has detailed documentation, discussion forums, chat and mailing facilities etc.
  • Plugins: It has several plugins available on its website and users can customize their own plugin sets as well.
Magento
Magento is an open source content management system, that is completely owned and managed by e-commerce giant eBay. It was previously known as Bento and was designed particularly to fit the needs of e-commerce websites. It is built on PHP and MySQL platforms and is compatible with Linux. Users can manage multiple websites by simply logging into a single portal. It requires little or no investment to get started. Some of its advantages are:
  • Flexibility: It provides users with WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, making management quite easier.
  • Module support: It allows the users to manage a multitude of modules that can be easily installed and virtually stored.
  • Mobile support: One of its peculiarities is its mobile-friendliness. It supports integration across multiple devices from iPad, smartphones to notebooks.
  • Security: It is completely secure and has a strong set of security features.

Quick Comparison:

Conclusion:
Finally, the choice of the CMS platform depends on the need of your website. We hope that through this write-up, you will be able to make an informed choice.
Gone are the days when a machine needed a precise set of instructions to complete a task. With the Machine Learning (ML) technology, today’s machines have become smarter. Now they can learn patterns, draw inferences and behave in a set manner.
Machine learning takes birth from pattern recognition and the idea that the machines can utilize data to learn by identifying patterns in it and eventually make predictions in the future based on the previously identified pattern, without being programmed. It can be better understood as augmented intelligence – a combination of human and machine capabilities.
It’s not a new concept, but has gained momentum recently. It actually dates to the 80s and 90s, though at that time, it was not highly advanced.
The advent of big and unstructured data, faster computational speed along with real-time solutions have opened a can of use cases for ML based applications.
With the help of various ML tools available in the market, one can easily start building their own working model, even with a small team. So, let’s look at some of the major machine learning platforms and compare their functionalities.

Machine learning platforms’ comparison: Amazon Vs Azure Vs Google Vs IBM

1. Amazon Machine Learning Platform
Amazon Machine Learning platform offers one of the most automated solutions to help built ML applications swiftly. The platform offers guided algorithms and wizards. With these guided tools, one can easily start building his ML models.
Features:
Amazon Machine Learning can load data from any of these three:
  • Amazon’s Simple Storage Services (S3),
  • Amazon Redshift or
  • MySQL databases in Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service).
The data pre-processing operations are automatically carried-on without requiring any manual intervention.
The visual tools help one in previewing the models and the APIs guide in creating them. Once a model is ready, Amazon’s in-built tools can be used to refine and fine-tune the data after which it can generate predictions.
The user can later decide whether he wants to use batch APIs to get predictions for the entire data set at once, or use real time API to generate predictions on demand.
Interface:
  • Amazon Command Line Interface
  • Amazon Machine Learning Console
Benefits:
  • Quick and easy way to create ML models due to automation.
  • Offers scalability and hence can generate billions of predictions for user’s application.
  • There is no set-up cost. Hence, one can start using it instantly and pay per usage.
  • Proven technology used by Amazon itself.
Drawbacks:
  • High-level automationFor those who look for full automation, Amazon ML platform is perfect. But, it cannot be used to train entry level developers the economics of machine learning.
  • Limited PredictionsAmazon ML platform has limited prediction capacity – binary classification, regression and multiclass classification.
  • Best fit for:High level automation gives speed to the entire process. Hence, it is fit for operations that have deadline constraints. The speed it offers will help build an application in seconds.
2. Azure Machine Learning
With Azure Machine Learning, one can build powerful applications based on cloud. It comes as a cloud-based fully managed platform which can be used to build and deploy predictive analytics solutions and even share them. Machine learning in Azure is based on applied methods. With a simple drag and drop interface, the user can go from idea to deployment in seconds.
Features:
Azure machine learning is for both experienced and new data scientists. As such, it gives room for performing tasks like data exploration, choosing methods, pre-processing validating etc. manually. Its graphical interface gives visual preview of each step in data building model for better results. Interface:
  • Drag-and-drop environment of Azure Machine Learning studio
  • Packages Python and R coding
Benefits:
  • Ability to perform manual operations is good for learning the basics of ML.
  • It supports a huge variety of methods, over 100.
  • Supports multiple classifications like binary, multiclass, regression, recommendation, detection, text analysis and much more.
  • Cortana Intelligence gallery is an added benefit.
Drawback:
  • Deep learning processIt is not good for tasks that require quick implementation. Best fit for: It is a powerful tool for those who are just getting started with ML and need to develop a thorough understanding of this field.
3. Google Prediction API
With Google ML platform, one can quickly build powerful ML models that can work on any data type, of any size. The TensorFlow framework helps one create the models. Users can leverage the state-of-the-art algorithms used by Google itself for generating search results and other industry-leading applications.
Features:
Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine can use any tensor flow model to perform large scale training over a managed cluster. Its integration with Google Cloud Dataflow helps in pre-processing, while Google Cloud Storage allows one to easily access data from it. One can get Instant predictions using online and batch prediction services. User can HyperTune the models for automating the training. Users get automated algorithms suggestions as well.
Interface:
  • Google Command Line to control TensorFlow procedures using gcloud ml- engine.
Benefits:
  • Strong Integrations with other Google services like Cloud Data Flow, Cloud Storage and Cloud Datalab.
  • HyperTune the models to automatically detect the workable models.
  • Fully Managed service ensures that one spends more time on developing and less on resource provisioning and monitoring.
  • Portable models allow one to train the ML models locally on TensorFlow and download for local execution.
Drawback:
  • Less pre-trained modelsThe availability of pre-trained models is less when compared to Azure. Best Fit for: Google offers the perfect environment for running ML applications within tight deadlines. Much like Amazon, it is also automated.
4. IBM Watson
IBM offers machine learning capabilities through its Watson Analytics. Built on IBM’s proven analytics platform, the developers can easily work on data which must be stored in IBM Bluemix to build smart models and improve decision making. It is mostly focused on getting models into production with the help of REST API connectors.
Features:
Watson Interface has three components – Explore, Predict and Assemble. With Explore, the user can use available queries or type in new text. The Predict tool provides prediction on one or more target variables based on others. Assemble tool provides an interface to create workbooks. They can contain the presentation materials, reports, data visuals etc. It further provides a drag-and-drop interface to quickly create the models. However, there are no automated algorithms suggestion.
Interface:
  • Graphical Analytics Software SPSS for front-end
  • API connectors
Benefits:
  • Deep learning capabilities.
  • Strong data visualization and description of various data values.
Drawbacks:
  • It is mostly targeted towards large organizations.
  • It does not process structured data directly.
Best Fit for:
Those who look forward to build machine learning platform backed applications with the help of API connectors.
Conclusion:
Which machine learning platform is best, depends on a user’s requirements. If what you look for is a comprehensive and fully automated ML platform then Amazon is the best fit, while IBM is good for a new data scientist who is just getting started with building ML applications. Azure, on the other hand, can manage both new and experienced data scientists.
Let us know what you think of these machine learning platforms – which one are you using and which one among the above is best, per you.
Obtained from:

Moving towards a more secure web

To help users browse the web safely, Chrome indicates connection security with an icon in the address bar. Historically, Chrome has not explicitly labelled HTTP connections as non-secure. Beginning in January 2017 (Chrome 56), we’ll mark HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure.
Chrome currently indicates HTTP connections with a neutral indicator. This doesn’t reflect the true lack of security for HTTP connections. When you load a website over HTTP, someone else on the network can look at or modify the site before it gets to you.
A substantial portion of web traffic has transitioned to HTTPS so far, and HTTPS usage is consistently increasing. We recently hit a milestone with more than half of Chrome desktop page loads now served over HTTPS. In addition, since the time we released our HTTPS report in February, 12 more of the top 100 websites have changed their serving default from HTTP to HTTPS.

hostingpartners.co.za is secured
Studies show that users do not perceive the lack of a “secure” icon as a warning, but also that users become blind to warnings that occur too frequently. Our plan to label HTTP sites more clearly and accurately as non-secure will take place in gradual steps, based on increasingly stringent criteria. Starting January 2017, Chrome 56 will label HTTP pages with password or credit card form fields as “not secure,” given their particularly sensitive nature.
In following releases, we will continue to extend HTTP warnings, for example, by labelling HTTP pages as “not secure” in Incognito mode, where users may have higher expectations of privacy. Eventually, we plan to label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.
We will publish updates to this plan as we approach future releases, but don’t wait to get started moving to HTTPS. HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and enables both the best performance the web offers and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP. Check out our set-up guides to get started.
Posted by Emily Schechter,
Chrome Security Team
[Updated on 12/5/16 with instructions for developers]
Developers: Read more about how to update your sites here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Not Getting the .COM TLD You Want Might Not Be the End of the World?

As the Internet continues to grow exponentially, more of its most valued real estate – the .com, is no longer available for new entrants into the domain market. For many, this can be disheartening, especially when that million-dollar idea and million-dollar name took hours to research, plan and draw-up. Though a .com TLD (Top Level Domain) remains the premier TLD in use, other options do exist and may actually be cheaper and better for your brand.
According to domain facts from websitebuilderau.com, a vast array of country and regional TLDs, along with industry and sector-based non-government TLDs exist and are vastly under-populated, meaning getting that perfect domain name may be cheaper and easier than you think.

Most Common Alternative

When it comes to online real estate the second most popular domain TLD is .net. For those who are unable to register their sought-after name as a .com, there is a chance that .net is available. Though not nearly as popular as .com extensions, .net is still used by many of the world’s top brands and are a great alternative if a .com isn’t available.

Cheapest Options

For those looking for a cheaper entry point into the world of online domain ownership many cheap and even free options exist. Up until 1995 .com domains were free to register and since have seen price upsurges. The TLD .xyz is the most used non-governmental TLD and it costs only 59cents to register your domain. Other cheaper options are the free domains registered to the .tk, .cf, .ga, .ml, .cu or .cc TLDs. With these options, it’s possible for anyone to get a piece of the Internet real estate market for little to no investment.

Sector Specific Options

For those looking to register a domain that fits into a specific sector or niche, sector-specific TLDs are a great option. For example, if you were a company looking at releasing a mobile app, the .app TLD may be just what you’re looking for. Other in-demand TLDs that are sector or niche specific include .fan, .web and .club. For those looking for even more TLD freedom, a frequently used technique is to adapt country TLDs to commercial purposes. Examples of this are using something like .dj, the TLD for Djibouti, if you are a disc jockey, or .co (Colombia) to represent corporation or company. By using your imagination, you can increase the possible TLDs available to you and add a little spin on how you market your brand.

Country & Region Options

Another great option for brands and businesses that operate in a specific region or territory is to register their preferred domain name with a country-specific TLD. For example, a Canadian company selling products or services to a Canadian consumer base can register a .ca TLD, or a United Kingdom-based company can do the same with a .uk extension. Currently, top country-specific domain registrations are led by China’s .cn TLD, and other top countries specific TLDs including .de for Germany, .ru for Russia and .tk for Tokelau.

Regardless of your domain’s TLD, the truth is you will need to market your address to draw traffic regardless. In the event you can’t get your brand’s exact .com TLD, these are just a few ways to solve the problem, adding a unique marketing angle and possibly saving you money at the same time.

Broadband services in South Africa normally come as either a capped or uncapped product.
Many ADSL and fibre Internet service providers offer “uncapped, unshaped” accounts, promising unfettered connectivity any time of the day.
However, not all uncapped, unshaped accounts are equal.
“What I find most amusing are the terms prioritised unshaped, or managed unshaped,” said Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov.  “In either case it paradoxical.”
MWEB’s head of product Rihana Hoosain agreed with Fialkov, saying that unshaped means there is no prioritisation on any of the traffic on that account.
“The Internet activity that is started first will be served first,” said Hoosain.

Contention vs throttling vs shaping

While an unshaped connection offers flexibility, it does not have unlimited bandwidth, said Hoosain.
If your account is uncapped and unshaped, you won’t always get the maximum speed your line and account allow.
“There is a lot of confusion between shaping and contention,” said Fialkov about the issue.
Contention is a measure of how many subscribers are using a service.
Giving each subscriber their own 4Mbps or 10Mbps, for example, of bandwidth would be prohibitively expensive.
If a few subscribers share that bandwidth, however, an ISP can make its ADSL and fibre accounts more affordable.
Fialkov added that throttling is not the same as shaping.
“If I slow everything down without discriminating, I am throttling. If I slow some things down, I am shaping.”
He said shaping lets ISPs increase contention without the majority of users noticing.
Generally, shaped services are more contended, which creates the impressions that unshaped services are faster.
“In this case the unshaped services are faster because they have lower contention [and tend to be less congested] not because they are actually faster,” said Fialkov.
The graphic below details the differences.

Uncapped, unshaped fair use policies

Cybersmart has certain fair usage thresholds, and if a subscriber reaches them, it shapes those accounts and will eventually throttle them.
“To be truly correct, we should only throttle on unshaped, uncapped accounts if we want to consistently and correctly use the term unshaped,” he said.
MWEB said it doesn’t have usage thresholds on its uncapped, unshaped products.
“But all products are subject to our wider acceptable use policy,” said Hoosain.

 

https://mybroadband.co.za/news/broadband/175040-what-uncapped-unshaped-adsl-really-means-in-south-africa.html

It’s been more than a decade since the launch of the first rudimentary cloud platforms. We’ve come a long way since then. Billions of people interact with the cloud every day. Many of the largest companies in the world run their IT operations on cloud platforms, and so do hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses. But there are still reasons for businesses to be cautious.
Many business leaders recognize how useful Infrastructure-as-a-Service could be to their company, but they are hesitant to make the leap from on-premises or colocated legacy systems to cloud hosting for business-critical applications. That is partly due to inertia: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But it is also in large part due to concerns about the risk posed by the potential for a botched cloud migration. We’ve all heard stories of businesses sinking millions of dollars into a cloud migration that didn’t work out, costing vastly more than it would have to do nothing at all.
No doubt cloud consultants think there isn’t much wrong with the way things are, but cloud vendors who take responsibility for helping their clients with cloud migrations would have a strong competitive advantage.
  • Security and compliance
When I talk to businesses about moving to the cloud, their number one concern is regulatory compliance. How does a cloud user know that their applications and services will remain compliant with HIPAA or PCI DSS once they no longer control the infrastructure layer?
Certifications and business associate agreements go some way to solving that problem, but it would allay worry if cloud vendors were prepared to work with individual clients, including smaller businesses, providing the help they need to build infrastructure deployments suitable for hosting sensitive workloads.
  • Cost
Cloud server hosting is less expensive than buying, maintaining, and managing server hardware. Cost reduction is one of the major motivations for adopting cloud platforms in the first place. But maximizing the cost benefit isn’t a given; it is possible to mismanage cloud resources, spending more than necessary and undercutting any potential cost benefit.
Of course, it is not in the financial interest of most cloud vendors to stop their clients from spending more than they have to, but providing utilization monitoring services and consulting with clients on the efficient use of cloud servers would go a long way to helping them use the cloud as efficiently as possible.
  • Complexity
The issues we’ve discussed can be reduced to a problem of complexity: mainstream cloud platforms are simply too complex.
Convoluted pricing structures, Byzantine management interfaces, and a lack of meaningful support from cloud vendors increases the chances that a cloud migration will go awry and decreases the chances that businesses will have the confidence to embrace a beneficial technology.
There is room in the market for a wide range of cloud vendors, from platforms that provide services and no support to hands-on service providers who are happy to help clients build solutions and achieve the full potential of on-demand, elastic, and flexible cloud infrastructure.

Whether you are just looking for a hosting control panel for shared hosting or whether you are looking for a control panel for your VPS or Dedicated Server the chances are that you will be considering one of the three main options; cPanel, Directadmin or Plesk.
The Control Panel will allow you to manage all aspects of your server without having to resort to command lines or any other utilities. You will be able to add and delete new users, databases, view the error logs for your server, install popular software, configure email, and perform hundreds of other day-to-day maintenance activities on the server including backup and restoration. A control panel for a Web server can do so much today that it’s almost unimaginable to think of going without one — even though it’s technically possible.
When choosing a control panel, one of the main difficulties lies in the fact that migration between them is difficult. To save yourself much trouble and expense in the future because you change your mind, or you want to move to a host that uses a different control panel it is important to get it right first time.
This article looks at some of the main differences between the various control panels, and goes into a little more detail than you would need if you are only looking for shared hosting and wanting to know the differences in control panel. That being said, if you are looking for a reseller, VPS or dedicated where you often get access to the full functionality the differences are more relevant.

A look at the Interface

Probably the main thing that may influence your choice is the look and design of the control panel interface. Certainly, it doesn’t feel good to get lumbered with an antiquated looking interface, but equally you will want to know that you have easy access to all the common things that you might expect to manage your hosting account, or indeed manage different users and plans for reseller accounts.

cPanel

cPanel has two main sections. The front end for Users (cPanel) and the Adminitration Area (WHM). We have a short video to the right (no sound) that just quickly breezes through the two interfaces so you can get an idea of what to expect.
If you want a more thorough look, you can obtain access to the two demos here.

Operating System Compatibility

It’s important to choose a product that plays well with the operating system you’re familiar with. Even though each of these provides a GUI that abstracts the underlying workings of the server, it still helps a great deal to be comfortable with whatever OS the server runs on. Say for example you wish to install a few add-ons from some vendors, you need to make sure that they are compatible with your environment. So your needs and experience will play a huge role in determining which web hosting control panel you want to go with.
cPanel
For all its market share, cPanel runs exclusively on Linux systems and it officially supports three versions — CentOS, CloudLinux, and RedHat. Despite this limitation, it’s been able to get by because of the prevalence of Linux in the server marketplace. So if your experience tilts more toward a Windows server, cPanel is probably not the right control panel for your needs unless you wish to obtain some experience with the workings of a Linux environment.
Several years ago, cPanel had released a product that still in the development stage called Enkompass, which was meant to be a Windows rendition of cPanel. Unfortunately, the product never received the attention necessary to make it a success and as it was later offered for free, it stopped generating revenue and therefore wasn’t updated. Finally, the product reached its End-Of-Life stage in early 2014.
Bottom line: if you want a Windows server, you can’t use cPanel.

Plesk

Unlike cPanel, Plesk offers support for a much wider variety of operating systems including variations within Linux itself. In addition to the three Linux OSs supported by cPanel, Plesk can also run on Ubuntu, Debian, and openSUSE.
But where it really pulls ahead of its primary competitor is in its support for Windows. As of now, Plesk recommends Windows Server 2012 R2 whereas the older versions of Windows have reached their End-Of-Life as new versions get released. Out of the three, Plesk is the only one that provides Windows support. Which means that your choice among these three is pretty much a given if that’s the platform you want to use.

DirectAdmin

Like cPanel, DirectAdmin also only runs on Linux systems, specifically RedHat, CentOS, FreeBSD, and Debian.
This means that having a Linux server provides you with the widest range of options when it comes to web hosting control panel software. Due to the lack of support by most products for a Windows environment, your choices are drastically narrowed if that is your operating system of choice.

Pricing

The costs of these three control panels varies widely as does their pricing structure. None of them is open source and only DirectAdmin allows you to purchase what is known as a “Lifetime License” where you can buy it outright for unlimited functionality and where it updates itself in perpetuity. The other two have no such offer and charge regular fees for as long as you continue to use their products.
The prices are taken directly from the companies websites, however, you will find that many places will offer discounted licenses as resellers.

cPanel

The cost of cPanel varies depending on whether or not you install it on a dedicated server or a VPS. The latter costs around half as much as the former with a yearly license of $200 as opposed to $425 for the dedicated version.
In addition, cPanel also offers phone support for $65 per incident. This includes as many calls as necessary to resolve a particular issue and your incident will receive a priority support status. The absolute lowest that you have to pay for a monthly subscription for cPanel is $20 on a VPS.

Plesk

Like its primary competitor, Plesk also has two separate schemes for VPS and dedicated installations. Unlike cPanel however, Plesk has a much wider range of licenses depending on the number of domains you wish to host, whether or not you want to include packs like WordPress and the developer toolkit, and whether you want to bundle it with CloudLinux.
You can get by with paying as little as $4 per month for Plesk if you restrict yourself to 5 domains!

DirectAdmin

As far as pricing options go, DirectAdmin certainly has the simplest setup with no distinction between VPS and dedicated environments. For a recurring payment, you can either choose a monthly, quarterly, or yearly license. And of course, you can opt to purchase it outright in perpetuity for a mere $299.
One important distinction is that DirectAdmin includes unlimited technical support in all its packages, unlike cPanel which charges for every incident. While Plesk also offers free technical support, their policies are difficult to find and they depend on what kind of license you purchased and from where.
DirectAdmin on the other hand prides itself on its simplicity and this extends to it support policies too.
Note that the unlimited license for DirectAdmin only includes support for 90 days.

Backend/Frontend and Functionality

If you’ve used cPanel from a client’s perspective as opposed to someone who runs their own server, you may never even have heard of WHM. WHM is the “backend” of cPanel and is a software used by server administrators to perform all the functions that cPanel users can’t. It ranges from setting up DNS clusters, comprehensive security rules, creating and assigning packages, server level configuration, and a host of other functions unavailable through cPanel.
If you are a client who has just purchased a shared hosting plan, however, you would never even see WHM. Your username/password combination would be used to log directly into cPanel either as a regular user or a reseller. The options available in WHM are so comprehensive and detailed that it’s impossible even to know where to start.
The other two products — Plesk and DirectAdmin — have no such split personalities. What you can and cannot do depends entirely on the permissions assigned to you. The interface will look pretty much the same with certain options enabled and disabled.
Security
As an extension of the above discussion, the security models for cPanel, Plesk, and DirectAdmin is quite different in the way they handle permissions for the different accounts or sub-accounts.
cPanel
With cPanel/WHM, you have someone who can access WHM and create individual cPanel accounts for each user. The capabilities of each account, as well as the resources it can use, depend on what packages are assigned to it.

Plesk

Plesk, on the other hand, has the concept of “subscriptions”. Each subscription is linked to a specific service plan that lays out the necessary resources that a user can access.

DirectAdmin

DirectAdmin also uses the concept of packages that are assigned to users. New users can be created either via a reseller of via the admin.
The differences between these three products are a matter of terminology and implementation. It’s one of the reasons why migration between these platforms is so problematic. Finding a set of parameters that creates a one-to-one correspondence between them is extremely tricky.
By default, a fresh install of almost any control panel has its security issues, and you will need to check the list of best practices for each control panel in relation to your server install.
You can find the various recommendations here: cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin. As you will see when you read the recommendations, server security for these control panels is a little more in-depth than we can discuss in the scope of this article.
Another important factor when deciding between the different control panels, especially in the age where vulnerabilities are common and frequently being taken advantage of when discovered is the time it takes for the exploits to be fixed. In a white paper by Rackspace, it was shown that out of the 3 control panels Plesk came out ahead by a significant margin in the time it took for them to resolve an exploit.

Usability

This is by necessity a subjective evaluation. With cPanel and WHM, the extreme power, flexibility, and the sheer number of options provided by this combination merge to create a somewhat more complicated interface compared to the other two. This is ameliorated somewhat by the fact that WHM and cPanel have a separate back-end meaning that much of the complexity is abstracted from regular users.
When it comes to Plesk, many find the aesthetics and clean layout preferable to that of cPanel. Combine this with the fact that there is no division between the front-end and the backend, and you have a system that is arguably easier to use and master.
DirectAdmin, however, has an interface that is the simplest and easiest of all. Out of the three, they are the only one that pitches ease-of-use and simplicity as its unique selling point. This manifests itself not only in their interface but also in the structure of their plans as we saw earlier.

Final Thoughts

Each of these three web hosting control panel products has its strengths and weaknesses. Operating system compatibility, pricing, technical support, ease-of-use, add-ons and plug-ins create a unique usability profile for every individual purchaser. I hope that enough information has been provided in this article to help facilitate a highly difficult choice!
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