On the 27th of June 2019, cPanel released a bombshell report that it’s dramatically increasing the cost of its licenses, and changing the entire licensing model itself. This wasn’t just a regular price increase. Plex has had occasional price hikes, but nothing unmanageable. The new cPanel pricing on the other hand, make it completely unaffordable for a large number of web hosts. So what impact will this have on the hosting industry?
cPanel Licensing Changes
Shortly after cPanel made these changes, Ryan wrote a post on the NameHero blog, outlining how NameHero will be dealing with the new licensing changes. To recap, here’s what the old pricing looked like:
And this is how it looks now:
It might not seem like a big change, but note now that each plan has a limited number of cPanel accounts that can be used on a server, and how they charge a fee for each additional account. This is expected to hit large web hosts a lot harder than smaller ones.
As of now, NameHero is responding merely with some account limitations on its reseller hosting – 40 for the Startup Hero, and 60 for the Entrepreneur Hero plans. As time goes by, we may make more changes, but for now these are the only ones.
But how are others in the industry responding?
1. Creating Custom Hosting Panel
The most obvious reaction from most web hosting providers is to develop their own custom web hosting interfaces. SiteGround for example, seems to have been the fastest responder – rolling out a custom interface within less than a month of the cPanel announcement, though they mention in their blog post that they’ve been working on it for some time.
As Ryan mentions in his earlier post, there was a feeling in the industry for a long time that cPanel was going to raise their prices – just not in such a dramatic fashion. As a result, it’s easy to believe that web hosts have been working on the new dashboards for a long time before finally rolling it out after the announcement. Expect a lot more of them to follow suit in the coming year.
Creating a new dashboard is quite intensive from a programmatic point of view, and only the larger web hosts will be able to do a good job of it. Smaller ones won’t have the resources to pour into a customized interface. But for obvious reasons, it’s also the most cost-effective once it’s stable and developed. Though creating one from scratch is anything but.
2. Alternative Hosting Panels
It’s hardly surprising that it’s a good time for cPanel’s competitors. I’m guessing that something like DirectAdmin will be the biggest beneficiary. At $29/m for unlimited accounts, it’s a real good deal compared to both the new as well as the older cPanel pricing.
Of course, cPanel has been the dominant interface for a reason. It integrates with just about every service, though DirectAdmin has the most popular ones. For example, you can enable the “Let’s Encrypt” DirectAdmin plugin by enabling the option in the config file, and then installing the script.
Still, it’s going to be hard to replace cPanel. In fact, most hosting providers might just choose to absorb the increased costs (especially if they’re not too large) and pass the additional expense onto their customers. Or it could revitalize the hosting control panel industry. For all we know, we’re heading into a golden age of options and standardized control panel frameworks that’ll shake things up. Who knows?
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!