Web hosting is like driving. Your car is the hosting account, and just as you can’t make your car do anything unless you take ‘control’ of the technology that makes it do what it does, so too with your hosting account.
In your car’s case, you use the steering wheel and the dashboard. In web hosting on the other hand, your dashboard is the control panel.
A control panel, for the uninformed, is simply a web-based administration tool, usually provided by the web hosting company, for your hosting account. It allows you to easily manage different aspects of the account, such as file uploads, email accounts, databases, viewing of usage statistics and DNS settings, as well as to configure web hosting options.
There are many companies that offer control panel software/solutions, but three of the most popular ones are: Ensim, sw-soft, and cPanel.
Of the three, Ensim has the most extensive line of products available.
- Ensim Unify – is the first hosting operations support software developed in tandem with Microsoft. It is a hosting automation software with solutions for specific hosted services such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Windows SharePoint Services and ASP.Net Web sites
- Ensim Pro – is a software solution that transforms a server into a professional Web hosting business. It is a commercial grade control panel software available for both Linux & Windows
- Ensim Extend – is used to streamline and automate mass-shared hosting businesses by scaling Ensim Pro for Linux
- Ensim Power Tools – is a solution that allows users to automatically install and configure popular Web scripts without compromising the security of the users’ sites
- Ensim Basic – is the control panel software purposely-built for use with dedicated & private servers
- Ensim VPS – virtualizes a server’s native operating system (OS) to be partitioned into isolated computing environments called virtual private servers (VPS)
- Ensim Server Manager – is the first open integrated hosting software for automating both Linux and Windows servers and applications
Sw-soft on the other hand has four product lines.
- Plesk – is its most comprehensive server management software
- Plesk 7 is the Professional Webserver management software specifically designed to simplify the management of UNIX and Linux based servers. Features include a services restart optimization for performance, a built in support trouble ticketing system that communicates with all user levels, and SpamAssassin anti-SPAM filter software for eliminating undesirable email
- Plesk 6.5 for Windows is the new release of the Web Hosting Server Administration software formally known as Plesk Server Administrator (PSA). This is the second Plesk release specifically designed with the assistance of hundreds of professional Hosting Service Providers (HSP) – allowing quick deployment and simplified management of Windows 2000 or 2003 based servers.
- Virtuozzo – is a VPS technology with mainframe-like dynamic partitioning, resource management with full isolation of each partition, OS virtualization and templating
- HSPcomplete – is a full business life-cycle hosting automation solution that manages hardware, OS, applications, backups, IPs, customers, resellers and ecommerce. It has a flexible billing system integrated with automated acct provisioning
- CONFIXX – is the number one control panel in Europe
And last but certainly not the least, is cPanel. The cPanel & WebHost Manager (WHM) is the next generation web hosting control panel system that has an easy to use web based interface (GUI).
- cPanel — for end users of the system, it is a fully-featured web-based control panel that allows you to manage your domain through a web interface; Enables the management of all aspects of email, files, backup, FTP, CGI scripts, and web site statistics, as well as MySQL databases.
- WHM – is used to administer individual accounts and reseller accounts, as well as to perform basic system and control panel maintenance via a secure interface; It supports many Unix flavors & Linux distributions.
Another popular control panel software that is worth mentioning is unlike those produced by the three companies above, in that it is distributed under a BSD-like license.
I’m talking about webmin, a web-based interface for system administration for Unix that was mostly developed by Jamie Cameron. It consists of a simple web server, and a number of CGI programs which directly update system files. The web server and all CGI programs are written in Perl version 5, and use no non-standard Perl modules. You can setup up user accounts, Apache, DNS etc. using any browser that supports tables and forms (and Java for the File Manager module).
Its latest version is 1.60.
- Direct admin is fast becoming very popular due to its reliability, frequent updates, stable uptime, and non-integration with the OS.
- Check out this new control panel as it may be the next cPanel.