Industry Analyst & Strategist

What for cPanel?

I’ve been following cPanel for a number of years and to be honest there hasn’t been a lot of movement at the organization in new directions for most of that time except for price hikes, being acquired by Oakley Capital in 2018, incorporated into WebPros, and then sold by Oakley to CVC Capital Partners. Throughout that time cPanel has chugged along as the stalwart of administrative panels for many many hosting companies including some of the largest knowns brands like GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostPapa, InMotion, etc.

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In 2019 WebPros was brought forward, with its debut at WebPros Summit 2019, and was really the first showing of all the brands within the WebPros group. The complete set of brands includes cPanel, Plesk, WHMCS, SolusVM, and XOVI. At the time is was not so much of an integration of existing solutions rather than a portfolio of products for the hosting and infrastructure markets.

WebPros is definitely consolidating, in baby steps, some of these solutions. Both Plesk and cPanel, with some differences, serve as administration panels for hosting company customers. Plesk on the whole is much more utilized in Europe while cPanel is much more common in North America. This owes primarily to the regions where these products were initially created and sold.

WordPress Toolkits

Between cPanel and Plesk, Plesk has led the way in WordPress innovation with WordPress Toolkit 2.0 in 2017. With the current Pro edition there a ton of valuable WordPress specific features:

  • Install new WordPress instances
  • Add existing WordPress instances manually
  • Migrate remote WordPress instances
  • Clone a WordPress instance
  • Create staging environment
  • Sync data between WordPress instances
  • Security check Read-only Full
  • 1-click hardening Only instances installed via the Toolkit All instances
  • Mass manage WordPress instances
  • Manage plugins & themes
  • Updates for WordPress, plugins and themes
  • Manual updates
  • Auto-updating
  • Maintenance mode management
  • Debug management
  • Password protection
  • Search engine indexing management

Fast forward to 2020, in cPanel Does WordPress, I talk about their newly released WordPress Toolkit, and marketing focus on WordPress. The cPanel WordPress Toolkit has a very similar feature set:

  • Manage Existing Installations
  • Website Dashboard
  • 1-Click Login
  • Change Admin Password
  • Change DB Password
  • Open DB in phpMyAdmin
  • Restore Backups
  • Manual Updates
  • Single Site Auto Updates
  • Search Engine Indexing Management
  • Automatic Hardening
  • Password Protection
  • Maintenance Mode
  • Debug Management
  • Plugin and Theme Sets Installation
  • Plugin and Theme Sets Management
  • Cloning
  • Staging
  • 1-Click Hardening
  • Mass Hardening
  • Mass Updates
  • Security Rollback
  • Smart Updates

The similarities should be of absolutely zero surprise. The cPanel WordPress Toolkit is the same as Plesk WordPress Toolkit, cPanel compatibility is what’s been added.

What’s In Store for Everyone

It won’t make sense in the long term for WebPros to manage dual administration systems. Not only because there is a duplication of resources but strategically it leads to customer confusion. There are two WordPress Toolkits – the exact same name! – that’s neither an accident nor sustainable. I received this email in reply to a #MorningCoffee regarding the confusion:

BTW, looks like there are TWO “WordPress ToolKit” entries when I googled it.  One is a cPanel … but there’s also apparently a Plesk version.

Plesk has been innovating at a much more accelerated pace, literally years ahead of cPanel on WordPress support and integration. I may be biased being located in North America but I think cPanel has a much greater market awareness globally. In the short term I think Plesk will be driving a number of the technology advancements at cPanel, and the more that occurs, the more it will be incumbent upon cPanel to grow in different areas.

Speculation Time

I can easily see cPanel striving towards becoming a more of a solution provider, integration specialist, and consultancy around technology that more and more will be provided by Plesk. I rate this speculation at 90% certitude. Now let’s go crazy and think about alternate dimension certitude, so 10%, what happens if cPanel becomes a host or SaaS.

The hosting version of cPanel is what it sounds like, another brand of hosting with a twist. There are many integrations of third party solutions with cPanel and creating unique hosting offerings bases around these partnerships would be relatively easy and effective. What happens if we take this link of thinking further down the road? The cPanel SaaS strategy would incorporate the hosting model but also move to micro-payments for their services to integrate with new breeds of hosting companies.

There is a lot going on with cPanel just announcing that WordPress Toolkit Deluxe has reached its store, and a new WebPros CEO, Jens Meggers. WebPros has a lot on its plate and needs to move fast. Keep watching the space.

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