Web hosting automation can be described as the process of automating server management tasks. With the popularity of shared hosting, cut throat competition in the hosting industry and bargain basement prices, automation is not just a convenience, but a necessity to stay competitive in the market.
Need for Automation
With hosting companies having thousands of clients managing their web sites on hosting company servers, it is prohibitively expensive, if not impossible, to manually execute every customerâ€™s requests for server administration tasks.Â This is where web hosting automation comes in.
Web hosting automation is realized by having specialized applications, usually known as control panel software, that can automate routine server management tasks. Each web site hosted on a server gets a unique username and password to access the control panel and execute the required server administration task, without the need for intervention of the hosting company staff.
How Automation Software Works
Hosting automation software is used to automate the routine server administration tasks such as email, databases, software installation and access control, among other functions. Hosting companies can either choose to create their own hosting automation software or they can use popular out-of box solutions like CPanel and Plesk.
The way automation software usually works is that every domain / domain owner is given a unique access-id in order to access the user interface for the control panel. Once they log in to the interface, icons or links appear, which they can click on to accomplish various server administration tasks, depending upon the access permissions and available resources.
Not only does hosting automation software allow customers to accomplish server administration tasks using a web interface, but it also allows for tracking the space, bandwidth and other resource usage; management of files on the server, installing common scripts with a single click, and server log access.
The software provides an abstraction layer between the end-user and the technicalities of performing server administration tasks. Because of this, hosting automation not only allows for saving time and money for the hosting company by taking some of the work-load off of staff, but also allows non-technical customers to manage the server administration tasks themselves.
Custom vs. Out-of-Box Software
Hosting companies have a choice between using custom hosting automation software or an out of the box software solution. A lot of large hosting companies have chosen the custom software route because of issues related to proprietary hardware infrastructure usage.
However, developing custom hosting automation software is not just an expensive and time consuming preposition, but it also involves a learning curve for customers. For most hosting companies using generic hardware and software solutions, it makes much more sense to choose an out of the box control panel software for customer convenience.
Choosing generic hosting automation software will not only eliminate the software development costs, but also reduces the amount of customer support the company may have to provide, since a lot of customers are familiar with popular out-of-box automation software like Plesk. In addition, most software manufacturers allow companies to co-brand the control panels.
Popular Out of Box Hosting Automation Software
There are quite a few popular hosting automation solutions available on the market today. One of the more popularÂ applications isÂ Parallels Plesk:
Parallels Plesk, originally known as just Plesk, includes full support for Linux, Windows and BSD operating systems. Plesk was acquired by SWsoft in July 2003 and has been rebranded as Parallels Plesk Control Panel since January 2008.
The software allows the administrator to create new sites, email accounts and mange DNS zone-files using a web-based interface. Parallels Plesk also allows management of MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, Tomcat Java Server and ColdFusion server among other software. Below are some of the more advantageous features of Plesk:
Ease of Use: Parallels Plesk Panel has a redesigned cleaner and easier to navigate interface. More commonly used tasks will be available immediately and all menu options have been streamlined which allows for more efficient task handling.
Customizable: Parallels Plesk Panel comes with many additional skins and gives users the ability to design custom skins and manage them in the browser-based interface. The custom desktop feature may be used to design and brand panels to particular specifications.
Fully Automated: With 100+ new enhancements, the control panel delivers a new ease of management through features like the key auto-update mechanism, auto-component updater, migration manager and a web-based installation for quick deployment and dedicated need for support.
Web hosting automation software allows hosting companies to reduce overhead costs and be competitive in pricing by automating routine tasks of server administration and allowing even technically challenged customers to be able to accomplish these server management tasks without knowing the technical details.
Parallels is a worldwide leader in virtualization and automation software that optimizes computing for consumers, businesses, and service providers across all major hardware, operating systems, and virtualization platforms. Founded in 1999, Parallels is a fast-growing company with 800 employees in North America, Europe, and Asia.
To learn more, please visit:Â www.parallels.com.