Hello, and welcome to the blog.

Today we’re taking a look at one of the most influential companies in web hosting, and what hosts are seeing as the year draws to a close. cPanel & WHM have announced a price increase for their platform software licenses, and it’ll take place January 1, 2021.

Pricing increases aren’t uncommon in any market. That said, cPanel & WHM are already the 2nd largest platform globally. The number one? Well, that’s Plesk. Both of these businesses are owned by the same investment firm – Oakley Capital.

And this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen Oakley raising the price on their acquisition. cPanel’s price went up without notice on September 1 of 2019 as well.

So, let’s unpack why this is happening?

First off, cPanel is a leading platform. It’s time-tested, thorough and offers an incredible level of control via it’s GUI. I’m not sourcing that information out – I’ve been using cPanel (well, supporting it!) for nearly two full decades. I remember first-hand how it felt the first time I could unblock an IP from CSF without going in via root SSH. Or what it was like for customers when they could start editing their own DNS zones. Or even making adjustments to mod_sec settings. These things didn’t all just happen, folks! It took years and years of work for cPanel to get where they are today – and a bit of luck.

Alabanza was a competing business with a web-hosting platform, and in North America for a time it was everywhere leading the pack as a simple but easy enough to use hosting platform. It had rudimentary functions and features, but was just enough for budding web developers of it’s time. It was called DSM(Domain System Manager, I think!), and for a time it was what cPanel was up against if it wanted more space in the hosting platform market. And in 2007 cPanel got their break, as Alabanza was bought and physically migrated to their new owners, Navisite.

“in 2007 cPanel got their break”..

It was the migration itself that spelled the end of Alabanza’s domination in the market. It didn’t go off as planned, which resulted in a multi-day outage for a great number of hosts using the DSM platform. This single outage resulted in what I remember as a mass change in direction for web hosting, as more and more hosts adopted the fledgling cPanel as their replacement platform of choice.

With the influx of customers, cPanel was able to develop itself into the platform it is today – adding function after function and feature after feature, it quickly became the standard in low-cost web hosting, and was often favored over the more sophisticated(if not more user-unfriendly) Helm, and HSphere platforms.

And all of this brings us to today. A day where Oakley Capital owns cPanel. A day where they’ve now twice unveiled to the world that their product is worth far more than people have been paying, and twice that hosts will be reconsidering just what platform they’ll offer to their customers.

What does it mean?

For each web host or cPanel-using entity out there it will mean different things. If you’re on a small license with a handful of sites, you might expect a 10% increase this time around. Unfavorable, but typically easy enough to swallow. Though, if you’re hosting five hundred sites – you might expect an increase closer to 50% or even more. I’ll include a direct link to the cPanel 2021 pricing info right here.

As for ‘what’s an appropriate reaction?’ – that’s really up to you. As a long-time cPanel user/tech-supporter/enthusiast, for me this feels like the end of an era. Sept 2019 felt quite the same, though this time around it’s a firm pinch telling me just how real these pricing changes are. Only time can tell if Oakley Capital are making a wise decision.

Thanks for reading.

John MC