Back when there were no such thing as web hosting control panels, managing a website took the skills of an experienced system administrator. Setting up email accounts, MySQL databases, cron jobs, etc. were all tedious processes that required many advanced Linux commands to configure. With the introduction of the web hosting control panel, managing a website can be done by a completely inexperienced user. Instead of taking 30 minutes to setup an email address, all you have to do is enter in the email address you want to create and click the create button and BAM you got your new email address ready to go.
Today’s popular control panels
cPanel and Plesk are the oldest and most well known control panels. Even in 2009, these 2 are the most requested control panels are the market. They are so popular for many reasons – Both have continuously improved their product and have signed deals with many of the top data centers to provide low cost control panel licensing to customers.
cPanel is the most popular out of the control panels. cPanel is available for both Linux and Windows hosting platforms. Customers prefer cPanel because the end user interface is simple yet has all the functions needed to manage a website. With the advent of Fantastico, cPanel usrs can setup a blog, forum, web portal, or many other types of software with just a few mouse clicks. System administrators prefer cPanel because you can pretty much manage every aspect of the server from the admin control panel. A user who has read a book on Linux can successfully manage a cPanel server because of its simplicity.
Plesk is 2nd runner up for popularity in my opinion. Plesk is a really advanced control panel in the sense that its clustering abilities are much better than Cpanel. The clustering functions have also been around much longer than cpanel clustering. Clustering is when you have multiple servers that perform different tasks – IE 1 server does email, 1 server does HTTP, 1 server does MySQL.
Plesk is a little bit more confusing than cPanel which is why I think it fell behind in popularity with Cpanel. There is definitely a higher learning curve for both the end user and the system admin.
DirectAdmin has been rising in popularity because of its simplicity. It has less bells and whistles than cPanel but it makes up for it with how slim and simple it is. I have written more info about DirectAdmin in my full source article located in the author resource box below.
While there are many control panels on the market today, only a few hold the top market shares. They hold these positions because of a superior product and by providing superior technical support for their product.