Recently, it was announced that cPanel is changing its owners - it's been acquired by Oakley Capital, an investment group also in charge of Plesk, a competing hosting panel solution.
Therefore, two of the world's most popular hosting panels are now owned by the same investment group. What does it mean to you, and what does it imply for the future of hosting? Let's try and find out.
What changes will happen to cPanel?
After the acquisition, cPanel was quick to respond to questions even before anyone had asked them. The FAQ section released by the company strongly focuses on one key point.
There will be no immediate customer impact. cPanel will continue to run as an independent business.
Any idea of possible immediate changes is quickly shunned. As of now, cPanel is doing its absolute best to assure the users that this move won't change anything. But as we know, companies often say one thing - and then proceed to do the complete opposite.
Hosting experts will know the infamous case of Endurance International Group acquiring hosting providers, then quickly running them into the ground and doing a merger with their existing hosts. In fact, we've covered a very similar case just recently, when only after 2 and a half years under new ownership, Host Excellence was closed down and merged with Site5.
So while in cPanel, the promises are only bright, nothing is set in stone and anything can happen.
One thing may still be different. And that is the user experience. With the increased financial resources, cPanel claims to be able to provide a more powerful product:
Customers will benefit from the significant investment in new product and feature innovation.The cPanel platform will grow to provide an improved user experience.
All sounds interesting - but there are some things that are just a little bit worrying.
cPanel and Plesk - will the same owner stop the competition?
Both cPanel and Plesk offer control panel solutions for Linux hosting. However, Plesk has something that cPanel does not - and that's Windows hosting. This Oakley Capital acquisition of cPanel draws a possible trend for both this panel and Plesk.
It is fully expected that we will see Plesk moving away from Linux hosting. cPanel is miles ahead already when it comes to user base using this OS. Heavy investment on Plesk Linux panel wouldn't make sense, considering the same investment group now owns a superior product.
So, both of the platforms should now focus on their main products, without putting much attention to other operating systems.
Sounds good? Maybe it isn't.
This acquisition may mean the end of a serious competition. And in a healthy rivalry, as we know, the user wins. With one company dominating both Linux and WIndows markets, the deployment of various features or overall user experience may suffer. Mostly because there will be no big competitor putting on the pressure.
What new products and features can we expect?
There is no doubt that Oakley will be interested in seeing the two companies work in completely different fields - this is financially the best decision. And here's what the future for both of them may hold.
Focus on different markets
Plesk calls itself the "WebOps" server panel, with premier focus on managing multiple websites, and having superior control as well as security. cPanel, while it has a WHM (Web Host Manager, allowing for management of several websites), is not as focused on system admins as Plesk is.
Therefore, in the future, we can definitely expect cPanel to focus more on hosting companies giving services to personal websites, and Plesk putting even more focus on server management rather than web hosting.
Streamlined migration process
Migrating a website from Plesk to cPanel is notoriously difficult - while doing it the other way around is very simple. Considering both panels are now sharing the same owner, we can expect the migrations to become much easier.
This makes sense. For the owners, a client moving from Plesk to cPanel or vice versa would be like putting money from one pocket to the other. And allowing the user for such freedom should be a serious priority. Especially if the speculation is true, and the two platforms will start catering for drastically different kind of customers. This way, the improved migration between cPanel and Plesk will have to be a must.
Changes in versatility and design
This one's a wildcard - but in the future, we can expect serious design changes from both of these control panels, as well as the operating systems which they support.
When it comes to design, cPanel is more focused on customizability - and is something very similar to what you'd find on an Android tablet or smartphone
Plesk, on the other hand, is less direct and groups features into a sidebar on the left, making it easier to manage a huge array of options, if there's such a need.
Considering that Plesk could be becoming more of a systems administration tool and cPanel - focused on regular-user website management, we could be seeing these two platforms become less and less similar as the time goes by. cPanel - becoming even more simple and Plesk - much more powerful and fully customizable.
Another thing that could change is the operating systems.
cPanel only has support for CentOS, CloudLinux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Amazon Linux. Plesk can work on all of them, but Amazon - and then it adds Debian, Ubuntu, and Windows Server.
In the future, we could be seeing both of those platforms run all of these operating systems. It looks more than possible - and that'd be a great option for all users to enjoy.
For now, Oakley Capital acquisition of Plesk isn't going to have any considerable effect. We can only trust the official statements done by cPanel itself. Judging by how clear and concise they were, if there will be any changes, they won't be immediate.
However, this acquisition does plant a seed for serious speculation. With cPanel and Plesk effectively being competitors, who will be there to spark innovation? Will Oakley Capital, holding a monopoly on the business, halt the progress on development. And how much will Plesk and cPanel change, given that they should no longer be a competition for one another?
The competition between the two is now pretty much dead. Will that be a good thing, or a bad thing, only time will show.