cPanel doesn’t need much of an introduction to most of our customers. They are the market leader in the web hosting control panel market, have been around for years and are known for their quality product and service. As you probably know, at SiteHost we have not only invested a lot of energy in our own control panel, but also have a long history of embracing and supporting other systems, including cPanel.
It really is our philosophy to always assist our clients in choosing the best possible solution for their problem, of course within budget. So when a name like cPanel announced their new pricing structure a bit over a month ago, we sat up and had a good look. But to be able to understand what’s happening and to provide some context and clarity, we have to go back a little further than just a couple of weeks…
A little background
According to Wikipedia, the story of cPanel started around 23 years ago in Houston, Texas. Their initial software was designed as the control panel for a web hosting company called Speed Hosting. A company that is long gone. A lot has happened in the meantime, but when we push the fast forward button to today’s cPanel world, we see approximately 70 million websites launched on servers from 73 countries around the globe – that’s impressive!
In those 23 years, a lot has changed. Companies have come and gone, cPanel grew into the market leader it is today, SiteHost was born, technologies emerged or improved and the industry has changed dramatically.
As we know from our own experience here at SiteHost, new or improved technologies can really turn an industry upside down. Things move quickly, and businesses constantly have to adapt, change and deliver, while still trying to make a profit. And yes, that can be challenging, but also makes operating in this industry very exciting.
Why does cPanel need a new pricing structure?
The truth is, because of these industry changes the way cPanel has been deployed in the past 23 years has changed dramatically. During the 90s, physical web server’s capabilities were rather limited. Server hardware could only handle a limited number of websites, and cPanel built its licensing on a per-server basis to offer an unlimited number of accounts.
It is now 2019 and this is a completely different world from the 90s. The smartphone you might be reading this article on, has more resources than a desktop computer from those days! Technological advances have made it possible that one single cloud server is now able to host a much larger number of websites. The result is that cPanel customers, that once licensed servers individually, now have the ability to serve the far more websites with fewer servers. This decrease in total servers means less licenses for cPanel and less revenue.
At the same time cPanel has a history of providing great support to their clients, but in light of the developments we have just mentioned, the costs for providing quality service for those websites must also have gone up for cPanel.
Another interesting occurrence took place in 2018, when Oakley Capital, a UK based Private Equity firm, acquired cPanel in 2018; after they had done the same with Plesk in 2017. When a Private Equity firm gets involved in a business, some changes can be expected one way or another.
A bit of backlash
Explaining a price increase to customers is never easy. It doesn't really matter how well you communicate it, or how big or small the increase might be, there will always be complaints and unhappy faces. But the increase for some customers was apparently as high as 800%, so the reactions on Social Media, especially on Twitter, were far from complimentary:
@KoHoSo: “Thx for this! I knew #cPanel increased prices but had no idea it was by such a large amount. It's been so long since I had a host that didn't use cPanel that I'm not sure what I'd do with another interface. I guess I might find out depending on what my current host does.”
@Aivivid: “.@cPanel if you guys don't reconsider your new and INSANE #license pricing policy, we will migrate out of #cPanel for good. #extortion.”
What the exact reasons for cPanel's price increase are, we will never know but this is what cPanel had to say about it:
Historically, cPanel has based its services and pricing around a VPS or Dedicated license with unlimited cPanel Accounts. As the company has evolved, cPanel has added more development resources, more structure, and more brain power that, in turn, makes it possible to take on an increasing number of development projects. Adjusting our prices will ensure that we can continue to invest in product development, thrive in an increasingly hostile security landscape, grow our customer ecosystem, and remain a leader in hosting automation.
If you are interested in reading more about the announcement from cPanel, you can read the whole statement in the cPanel forum.
We understand the challenges that come from dealing with fast changing technologies and increased customer expectations. Sometimes this might result in a change of policy or a price increase. It is something we understand from a business point of view. But to be honest, when our coffee supplier charges us a few dollars more for a bag of beans, we are not very happy either...
So how do we move on from here? Well, cPanel might have concerned some of their customers, they might even lose a few, yet they remain one of the most dependable and popular web hosting platforms in the industry. Here at SiteHost we will continue to offer cPanel as a solution for our clients, along with our own hosting solutions. If you have any questions about the new pricing structure, or would like to talk to us about what could be the best option for you or your company, just give us a call or send us an email. We are more than happy to have a coffee and a chat!
SiteHost customers affected by the price increases will of course be contacted individually by email in the near future.