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cPanel and Plesk — Will Change of Ownership Affect Development?

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Recently, it was announced that cPanel has been acquired by Oakley Capital. This also happens to be same company that owns Plesk, thereby implying that two of the world’s most popular control panels are now under the same parent company.

At this point, the question is: what does the future hold now that two leading control panels related to the hosting industry are under the same umbrella? What changes are we likely to see, if any?

Prelude

It is worth pointing out that cPanel was quick to explain that it will continue to operate as an independent entity and the product’s vision for the future will not change. This means the familiar interface and features that we are used to seeing and expect from cPanel are most likely not going away.

Furthermore, both cPanel and Plesk have future roadmaps in terms of development laid out for at least the new few months to come. This implies any sudden or out of the blue change in development agenda is highly unlikely and even impractical.

While this naturally is reassuring for many of the users of either of these two control panels, some might not entirely be sold on the idea. Case in point, every EIG takeover press note begins by promising that the web hosting company will continue to operate independently and maintain its level of performance and quality of service. But over a period of time, things definitely change for the worse and everything goes downhill.

With that said, cPanel and/or Plesk are no minnows or medium-sized entities in web hosting industry. Both of these control panels are highly popular. Beyond that, Oakley Capital hopefully does not have that much of a flair for spoiling things as compared to EIG, which means we can expect good things to come out of this investment deal.

What Can We Expect?

At this point, one can only speculate as to what might eventually come out of this investment deal. However, certain things might just become possible now.

1. Cross-Platform Transfers

As of now, it is very easy to transfer your site between web hosting providers if they are using the same control panel. For instance, if your current web host uses cPanel and so does the new one, you can easily migrate your website with zero downtime. Similarly, Plesk to Plesk transfers are easier to accomplish as well.

But what if there are different control panels involved? cPanel to Plesk or vice versa? Things no longer remain easy; yes, such transfer are possible and happen on a regular basis, but not as easy as the others.

Now that both Plesk and cPanel are owned by the same parent company, it might be likely that cross-panel site transfers become easier and simpler. If that happens, it will be a major boon for web hosting customers and providers alike!

2. More Uniformity

As of now, both Plesk and cPanel are following a different pricing model (albeit both are competitively priced) as well as release cycle. In the long run, both can potentially move towards greater uniformity in terms of pricing and services offered.

It probably will not happen anytime soon that either of these entities is merged into the other and/or a name change is introduced. With that said, unless Oakley Capital really just wishes to be an angel investor and grants absolute autonomy to both of these control panels, some changes are bound to happen. To quote the cPanel site:

We fully anticipate that cPanel will keep its name, and be managed separately until a time, if any, when integration with other Oakley group companies is in the best interests of the companies and minimizes any impact to customers and employees.

Notice the part in bold above. It may so happen that each control panel is given its own niche to operate in, with cPanel being geared more towards Linux hosting environments.

3. The “Products”

cPanel has cPanel & WHM (WebHost Manager). Plesk has a very unique section within its clientele. It offers specialized licenses for system admins and digital agencies. This means many IT administrators that tend to manage intranet sites for institutions such as hospitals, universities and likewise can opt for Plesk over cPanel & WHM. This has led to Plesk being pitched as more of a server management control panel and not purely and only a hosting control panel.

It might be really likely that cPanel & WHM continue to dominate the Linux web hosting industry. Plesk, on the other hand, may eventually be geared towards IT and system admin usage, Windows platforms, and other similar uses. This could also someday mean the end of several Plesk features, such as its famous Joomla optimization extension, the WordPress toolkit, etc.

Beyond that, it is also possible that many features from one control panel may find their way into the other. cPanel can benefit from Plesk SEO Toolkit, whereas Plesk can use an easier to use approach to email forwarding (something cPanel has had for ages).

Conclusion

All said and done, the import and export of features from one control panel to another is not going to happen anytime soon. This is also because Oakley Capital, as an investor, may rather prefer giving autonomy to both the development teams to follow independent paths.

However, it is highly plausible that business goals of each control panel will become more niche-focused and less competitive. Plesk will surely move away from Linux hosting, as that is something cPanel & WHM is more adept at handling. Instead, Plesk might cater more towards the IT admin industry and intranet portal management solutions, and steer itself away from the mainstream hosting world.

What do you think of this recent development surrounding Plesk and cPanel? Share your views in the comments below!

Sufyan

Sufyan is a contributor to a variety of websites and blogs about technology, Linux, open source, web design, content management systems and web development. He is a published author, coffee lover and the guy behind CodeCarbon.com. Learn more about his works on this page.

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