We've completely revamped our Parallels Cloud Service Provider blog and moved it to a new URL: spblog.parallels.com. If you happen to find yourself reading this post, we invite you to join us at our new location. See you there!
We've completely revamped our Parallels Cloud Service Provider blog and moved it to a new URL: spblog.parallels.com. If you happen to find yourself reading this post, we invite you to join us at our new location. See you there!
If you’ve sat in front of a television lately, chances are that you have seen an advertisement for a Do-It-Yourself website for your small business. Who would believe that in this hyper-wired world we live in that some businesses still don’t have a website? Clearly some don’t. And the fact that we’re getting bombarded with these offers every night during prime time shows you just how significant an opportunity exists.
DIY websites are all the rage. For the end-user, they are low-cost, low-risk, full-featured, and easy-to-use. For hosters, they are a great way to attract and retain new SMB customers, and to eventually sell them more services and increase ARPU. And, because of intuitive WYSIWYG design and editing tools, they are also fairly easy to support.
The jump from having no web presence to having a basic website can be dramatic for a SMB – suddenly they are discoverable and contactable – but it’s not the same as having a storefront with goods and services available for purchase 24/7/365. It’s like the difference between having a ‘business’ or a ‘business card’ at your web address.
Enter e-commerce, SaaS-style. Now SMBs have the ability to add very sophisticated, end-to-end e-commerce to their websites with little-to-no technical know-how. Now shopping carts, product catalog management, shipping, taxes, and mechanisms for receiving payments are all just a few mouse clicks away for any business that wants to sell online. Not only that, these platforms enable SMBs to surface their online stores on Facebook, share product purchases on social media networks, manage their stores via mobile phone, and more. And all of this functionality can be had for as little as a few dollars per month.
Hosting is a numbers game, and it’s important to be constantly on-boarding new customers. But not all customers are created alike. Those with e-commerce shops are worth infinitely more to a hoster because they tend to spend more money to promote and protect their investments – custom domain names, SSL certificates, back-up, SEO, and CRM/email marketing are just a few of the additional services that SMBs add-on as their online businesses start to percolate. Given easy-to-use tools and quality service delivery, these SMBs will with you for the long-term, and continue to purchase additional services as they are needed. These are not your typical $5/month hosting customers – they are your golden tickets – and you should be chasing them to accelerate your own business growth.
Most SMBs looking for an entry-level website solution equipped with e-commerce will be fine in a shared hosting account, but some will require their own panel controlled server for a variety of reasons including performance, security, customization and control. Once they’ve made the move, it’s rare for them to downgrade back to a shared hosting account. By selling them on the value of dedicated resources, you can significantly increase ARPU. By providing them quality service and support, you can get them to recommend you. And by thinking about their businesses, and offering them additional services to enhance and grow it, you can keep them as customers indefinitely.
But if your approach to selling hosting is still price-based ‘good, better, best’ list of mailboxes, disk space and bandwidth, you may need to rethink how to sell to these largely non-technical users. You can continue to sell them your $10/month ultimate plan, or you can offer them “Your business, open all day, every day.” Are you ready to make this pivot? Hosters who offer Parallels Web Presence Builder are!
Web Presence Builder is designed for hosters, and enables them to lead with their own full-featured, easy-to-use DIY website offer. It includes online store and shopping cart modules from Ecwid - a full-featured and affordable e-commerce widget that includes web, mobile and social stores managed from one control panel – and a free subscription limited to 10 catalog items. Market-savvy hosters can leverage ready-to-use marketing assets from Parallels - like the sample landing page shown above – and deliver campaigns and promotions specifically targeted at SMBs that want e-commerce.
And to provide hosters an additional incentive, Parallels and Ecwid just announced a revenue sharing program that rewards hosters whose Web Presence Builder users upgrade to a premium Ecwid e-commerce subscription with 25% of that subscription. This can translate into $3.50 to $25 of additional revenue per user per month without even lifting a finger. Of course, should hosters wish to really capitalize on this opportunity, they can always run their own campaigns and actively promote premium Ecwid subscriptions to their SMB customers. And to sweeten the deal, Ecwid will manage all aspects of the program including tracking, reporting and payment. All the partner needs to do is to inform Ecwid of their desire to participate, and Ecwid will provide a single tracking code which a shared hosting partners adds to their Web Presence Builder configuration file. This revenue sharing program is available to Parallels partners who offer Web Presence Builder as part of their shared hosting offers, as well as to partners who attach Parallels Plesk Panel with Web Presence Builder to leased servers.
E-commerce is the secret sauce for SMBs because it can help them to grow revenue, expand their reach and discoverability, attract new customers, and fulfill orders - all day, every day. It is the secret sauce for hosters because it enables them to market to a specific, lucrative, customer segment with a clear, non-technical value proposition with language and tools that SMBs can understand. And with the opportunity to effortlessly earn additional revenue each month, it’s a very sweet sauce at that.
Parallels Partners can learn more about the Ecwid revenue share program, and access Web Presence Builder marketing resources on Parallels PartnerNet (login required).
By Kamilla Amirova, Service Delivery Program Manager, UNITY Mobile
If you are in your 40's you were born into a world which is now long gone. Your first date was set up via a landline phone - maybe even a rotary dial! The first music you listened to was from a tape cassette or a vinyl record; flying was not like taking a bus; e-mails were unknown and... well, you get the picture.
Then along came mobile telephony and the internet and they changed the world forever. Today our lifestyle, information and hobbies, as well as work, can be found in one single device which is permanently connected to the internet - and of course it is also in our pocket most of the time.
Mobile is getting so big that no business can neglect it
Modern businesses cannot afford to ignore this very simple and efficient method of customer acquisition. Their customers are using phones and tablets as their primary internet device. Ignore it at your peril.
More than 10% of search is from mobile and increasing. 68% of private smartphones users are looking for product information on their mobile (Source: Google, May 2013).
Smartphones have changed the way consumers shop
Smartphones have changed the way consumers shop. Smartphones are critical shopping tools with 77% of users having researched a product or service on their device. Smartphone research influences buyer decisions and purchases across channels. 46% of smartphone users have made a purchase on their phone. Implication: Having a mobile-optimized site is critical and a cross-channel strategy is needed to engage consumers across the multiple paths to purchase.
The key is simplicity
First of all, you should take into consideration that mobile experience is different from desktop/PC experience. When I see a lot of mobile web sites designs, plenty of them contain too much information, it takes time to load and it’s simply too busy…people can get easily lost in navigation. Just imagine yourself out of the office or house looking for local shop or service info. All you really need in this moment is to get an address, make a call or simple contact form.
Let's describe mobile website best practices on a real example - Fotografia Bertolino
So, the key here is simplicity by taking away complexity, being functional and fast loading.
The time is now
According to Parallels research, 50% of US SMBs have or plan to build a mobile website – this is the highest growth area in our industry in next three years. The time to start selling mobile optimized websites is now. Roll with the times and take advantage of latest technologies and make them work for you and your business! We at UNITY Mobile stand ready to help.
The Linux Foundation recently released their latest report on the state of Linux kernel development, and once again Parallels is listed as a top contributor and reviewer. This is the fourth time in as many years Parallels has been listed in the annual report. Linux Kernel Development: How Fast It is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing, and Who is Sponsoring It, September 2013 gives a clear view of the leading innovators in the Linux community and some of the key developments over the last 18 months.
One of those key developments is User-space Checkpoint/Restart, a new feature developed and contributed by Parallels that for the first time brings the full power to save and restore the state of a single process or an interlocking set of processes. This enables container image saving, process fast start and rebootless upgrade. This feature also enables seamless live migration by saving and restoring the state of connected sockets and by doing iterative memory transfer, ensuring that only a few short seconds pass between checkpointing a process on one node and restoring it and all its network connections on another.
Parallels is listed as one of the top 30 overall contributors to the Linux Kernel in the report. The Linux kernel is a resource which is used by a large variety of companies. Many of those companies never participate. But Parallels is investing in Linux Kernel development to ensure a strong future for our Linux-based virtualization solutions, a good sign for Parallels virtualization customers.
In the list of top Kernel reviewers, James Bottomley, Parallels Virtualization CTO is listed as one of the Top 10 kernel reviewers, making Parallels one of the “gatekeepers” of the Linux Kernel.
What does this mean for Parallels partners? It means Parallels products are taking full advantage of the latest technology available for Linux, and at the same time Parallels is helping to advance that technology to improve our products. For a product as critical as virtualization, it is good to know that Parallels is maintaining strong technical leadership in the Linux community ensuring maximum performance and long term stability and support for our virtualization solutions in the future.
To help you be more successful in your business, we have made major price reductions on many of the most popular domain name extensions and numerous complementary online services. Whether you are an existing Parallels Domain Name Network reseller or want to join, you can now get the most competitive rates available.
Here are just a few examples of the new price cuts:
By signing up through Parallels Domain Name Network reseller program, you can enjoy all the benefits of being an eNom reseller without paying any setup fees! Sign-up for free to get volume-based pricing, access to 24/7 eNom tech support, a dedicated account manager, and easy-to-use tools to manage and grow your business. Sign up.
If you already have a Parallels Domain Name Network Account, you can benefit even more. For the first time ever, we are offering a special $8.88/year rate on .COM transfers until 12/31/2013. Consolidate your portfolio now to save money on every .COM transferred to eNom. Transfer now or contact sales at email@example.com.
Many shared hosting customers are not professional web designers. These customers need the most basic administrative functions and should not, if possible, be asked to use multiple tools to manage their services. At the same time, web designers as well as more sophisticated users, need the administrative power of panels to get their work done.
”Most control panels today offer a huge set of features and settings, but this isn’t always what the customer actually needs. In fact, the vast majority of shared hosting customers never use most of the control panel features, and switching between the administrative billing experience and the panel experience is often confusing for these customers.” Said Piotr Dołęga CMO for ModulesGarden http://wwwmodulesgarden.com, a company that specializes in panel extension products and developed Parallels Plesk Panel Extended for WHMCS.
A solution to this problem for Parallels Plesk Panel comes in the form of an extension of the panel experience. The Parallels Plesk Panel Extended for WHMCS module serves up the most important Parallels Plesk Panel functions directly within the WHMCS interface. With “Parallels Plesk Panel Extended for WHMCS,” customers can conveniently manage the most frequently used functions of the panel without leaving their WHMCS client area.
In addition, Parallels Plesk Panel Extended for WHMCS also provides full access to all Parallels Plesk Panel functions for the users that need them. As a result, a hoster can serve the needs of 90% of their shared hosting users from within WHMCS, while fully supporting the needs of more sophisticated users from within Parallels Plesk Panel.
Taking advantage of Parallels Plesk Panel Extended for WHMCS creates a win-win situation for both hosters and their customers. With this solution, a hoster can greatly reduce the time they spend on support, while improving customer satisfaction. Here’s what partner Felipe Alencar from Next4 Hosting said about this solution:
"The ModulesGarden Parallels Plesk Panel Extended For WHMCS module helped Next4 offer our customers a high level of usability and accessibility. Now my customers can manage principal functions such as email creation, managing FTP, managing databases and others, without leaving the WHMCS client area and without having to log in to Parallels Plesk Panel. What is more, the module significantly improved our customers’ experience which is very important for us. Very professional and very useful software. We definitely recommend it!"
Parallels Web Presence Builder isn’t just for Parallels Plesk Panel anymore.
There’s a bit of a rivalry between users of Parallels Plesk Panel and users of cPanel. Those who host a handful of websites tend to lean toward cPanel, while those who host hundreds or thousands professionally prefer Parallels Plesk Panel and Parallels Plesk Automation. But no matter which hosting control panel you prefer, you have something in common - you can now offer Parallels Web Presence Builder via both control panels, and beef up your shared hosting offers to attract new customers.
If you provide shared hosting via cPanel, you probably just did a double take. Aren’t cPanel and Parallels competitors? True, both companies have offerings in the single-server control panel space. So it is easy to see how you might think so. Parallels offers a broad range of products for web service providers - from single server hosters running Parallels Plesk Panel on Linux and Windows, to multi-server hosters running Parallels Plesk Automation, to some of the world’s largest cloud service providers and telcos running Parallels Automation products. In addition, Parallels also offers solutions for Server Virtualization, Web Presence, IaaS and SaaS delivery, as well as Cloud Acceleration consulting services. So it might be short-sighted to see these companies as real competitors, since cPanel only offers one product.
So this is a plot to infiltrate cPanel hosters and flip them to Parallels Plesk Panel, right? Well, not exactly. It’s actually a plot to offer cPanel hosters a better site building tool – one that actually works for them and helps them to attract new hosting customers who will use cPanel. And since cPanel doesn’t offer its own site builder, it’s hard to see this as anything other than goodness.
But there is already a variety of site builder tool available for cPanel, so why should a cPanel hoster care about one from Parallels? If you’re a serious hoster, then customer acquisition and retention, and month recurring revenue are always top of mind. Web Presence Builder is designed with shared hosters in mind. Site builders for cPanel always seem to be treated as a checkbox on a laundry list of web hosting plan features – that’s why they usually offer several. But, in case you haven’t noticed lately, the industry’s largest hosters are all leading with, and advertising, their own Do-It-Yourself website offers, and this is making smaller hosters nervous.
How can you compete with hosters who run television commercials? Fortunately Parallels Web Presence Builder gives you the tools you need to lead with own full-featured DIY website solution offer, and to compete with those larger hosters to acquire and retain SMB customers, and grow your business.
Take a lesson from the big guys. Not all small businesses are technically savvy. And given the choice between a long list of hosting features, and an entry-level, easy-to-use, business website solution, the solution approach is winning out. Are you prepared to serve these buyers? Are you selling hosting features, when you could be selling this?
What benefits can cPanel shared hosters expect from offering Web Presence Builder? Plenty. With over 100 business website topics pre-populated with relevant content, images and navigation, as well as fully integrated ecommerce, social sharing and automatic optimization for mobile devices, Web Presence Builder can help you land cost-sensitive SMB customers of all skill levels with an intuitive visual site builder, that integrates powerful features that SMBs want, and acts as a hub for self-managing a sophisticated web presence. Combined with ease of support, multilingual capabilities, and additional opportunities for earning monthly recurring revenue, Web Presence Builder provides shared hosters with a broad range of benefits that will make even the staunchest cPanel nationalists want to evaluate it for their own hosting offers.
And in addition to getting a highly sellable hosting offering, cPanel hosters who offer Web Presence Builder can also enjoy the many benefits of being a Parallels Partner. As a leading provider of cloud service automation products, Parallels is constantly learning from channel and industry partners around the world, and sharing that business intelligence in the form of SMB Cloud InsightsTM research reports with our partners. They also get access to a wide range of Go-To-Market resources and campaign materials to help them sell - often localized into other languages.
So what does it take for a cPanel hoster to try or deploy Web Presence Builder? For cPanel, a shared hoster should deploy a standalone instance of Web Presence Builder (on its own Linux server) and then install a copy of the cPanel Integration Plug-in for Parallels Web Presence Builder onto each cPanel server on which they want to make Web Presence Builder available to customers. It’s a fairly straightforward process if you know your way around cPanel, and you have a choice of building your own Web Presence Builder server, or spinning up an Amazon Machine Image that we have made available, so you can streamline your evaluations and get to market faster.
For your convenience, a brief overview video of Web Presence Builder deployment for cPanel can be found here. Watch the video, grab a free 30-Day trial license here, spin up an AMI on Amazon Web Services, and see what your hosting offers are missing.
To survive in this industry you must grow and on-boarding new customers is critical to that growth. With Parallels Web Presence Builder, shared hosters of all sizes can go-to-market with their own, branded, DIY website solution to attract those new customers, regardless of whether they use Parallels Plesk Panel or cPanel for hosting.
A full one-third of all Parallels Plesk Panel web designers and web developers switched to Plesk from cPanel. I was quite surprised to discover this preference, especially after being exposed to 10+ years of the single-panel shared hoster’s strong polarizing views and unyielding preferences towards one solution over the other.
To better understand what is causing this difference, my colleagues and I had a series of deep conversations with professional web designers and developers to capture the rationale behind this preference between Web Hosting control panels.
Even though the circumstances and business and technical needs of professional web designers are quite distinct, the rationale for choosing Parallels Plesk Panel was quite consistent. Here is an outline of our findings and key factors contributing to the decisions made by web professionals for switching to Parallels.
Ease of use is the most often stated reason for choosing Parallels Plesk Panel. The ability to easily find the most important tasks in the panel UI, to navigate between screens, and to see customer sites, data and resources in the primary view, are the most important reasons for choosing Plesk. Web designers simply do not have time to search through an unorganized list of tools that are mostly irrelevant to the tasks that need to be performed. My personal opinion is that web professionals are frustrated with the visually unappealing, inefficient, and cumbersome cPanel UI that has not been improved in years, and they are voting with their feet by switching to Parallels Plesk Panel.
Security is the second factor for the selection of Parallels Plesk Panel. Web designers are quite aware that no server, operating system, or control panel is inherently secure. What we heard about was not just the series of security improvements delivered in the latest Parallels product versions, but the fundamentally better job that Parallels has done in handling security threats in the past. Better, more open, more consistent, more real-time communications from Parallels has been a clear factor leading to the decision to switch panels for many web designers.
OS choice is the third critical factor. The ability to work and serve customers across both Linux and Windows, without the need to switch administrative experience, is enough to prompt a move to Parallels Plesk Panel. A preference for using Windows to run apps like the DNNPlatform was also frequently mentioned by end-users as a driver for making the switch. The DNNPlatform, formally known as DotNetNuke, which only runes on a Windows-stack, has been downloaded from our APS catalog over 48 thousand times.
And finally, web designers pointed to the improved performance and value that NGINX (and in the latest version of Plesk a hybrid implementation of NGINX) delivers by optimizing website performance. NGINX is the 3rd most used web server and - with native integration with Plesk - brings unique performance advantages to Parallel Plesk Panel.
You can comment and provide your feedback to this blog directly, or you can contact me with a private message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Adam Bogobowicz, Sr. Director, Product Marketing
Parallels Plesk Automation is rapidly becoming the hosting solution of choice, giving professional shared hosters a new opportunity for efficiency and growth. Now deployed by more than 500 service providers in over 60 countries, Parallels Plesk Automation has been field tested with thousands of users, websites and mailboxes and is proving to be efficient, secure and scalable beyond anything a single panel can provide.
Now Parallels is ready to take Parallels Plesk Automation to the next level. Starting in October, Parallels will be offering a public preview of Parallels Plesk Automation 11.5 that will deliver a series of refinements and new services to the solution. The purpose of this article is to outline what you can expect from the next version of the product and to ask you to consider participating in the upcoming preview.
We will cover the basics with support for the latest technologies. We will support Centos 6 on the management node, ensuring the latest security OS updates and latest OS features. Windows 2012 support will come as a minor update following the 11.5 release. We will also take full advantage of the latest UI improvements, already available in Parallels Plesk Panel 11.5, and will support multiple PHP versions on each web node.
With Parallels Plesk Automation 11.5 you will be able to define your node capacity. This will allow you to control the number of websites/mailboxes. For example, you may want to limit the number of websites to 50 on a particular web node, or the number of mailboxes to 200 on a mail node. You can then distribute subscriptions automatically against these nodes, either loading each node up to capacity before using another or distributing equal load on each node in a cluster. Parallels already offers a utility to move subscriptions around servers for Linux hosting, and this functionality combined with node capacity will give you full control of over your load characteristics. To help you better understand your nodes, in UI you now will be able to see lists of all websites on each web node.
Multiple Domain Support
We will be expanding our subscription capability to allow multiple independent domains in a single subscription. In this context, “independent” means the domain has its own FTP account and IP address.
A web studio, development shop, or small VAR with web services needs the ability to manage customers in a very simple way and does not require account registration or billing. With independent-domains-in-subscription functionality you will be able to provide a node (or a workspace on a node) to one of these downstream service providers. This will allow your service provider customer to support multiple downstream customers on that node but without the unnecessary complexity of full account management functionality. We will also enable selling multiple IPs with this scenario.
Many of our Parallels Business Automation Standard and Parallels Plesk Panel 9 customers were waiting for this functionality before migrating to Parallels Plesk Automation, and we are happy to enable it with Parallel Plesk Automation 11.5.
SaaS and Service Syndication
Parallel Plesk Automation 11.5 will ship with and fully support Application Packaging Standard 2 (APS 2) for external services, enabling reselling of a rich set of applications. This functionality is also a basis for delivery of syndicated services from ISVs and cloud providers, who enable their services following the APS standard. This standard not only opens the door to a new hosting business model (syndication) but will also enable a new level of collaboration between Parallels partners. A good example of this opportunity will be for Parallels partners with highly efficient Microsoft Exchange operations who now will be able to provide syndicated services for resale via the Parallels Plesk Automation enabled hosters.
Ring-fenced Nodes Hosting
Some hosting customers require and are willing to pay for dedicated resources for their service. With the Parallels Plesk Automation 11.1 release, you already could move a customer to a ring-fenced node. To enable this feature as a business scenario in Parallels Plesk Automation 11.5, we will also introduce an alternative licensing option for the product. This alternative licensing method will be based on the total number of hosted websites in the system (and no longer based on number of nodes) and will therefore make the marginal cost of upselling to a dedicated node much more attractive to our partners.
With Parallels Plesk Automation 11.5 we are also making many smaller but critical service refinements based on feedback from our customers.
To secure a spot in the upcoming preview of Parallels Plesk Automation 11.5 please e-mail Parallels at email@example.com.
If you would like to comment or ask questions about the upcoming public preview of the product you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
~ Adam Bogobowicz, Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Parallels
By John Zanni, Vice President, Service Provider Marketing and Alliances
Accounting for more than 99 percent of all local enterprises, Japanese small and medium businesses (SMBs) account for a substantial share of Japan’s economic output. Traditionally, Japanese SMBs largely operated as suppliers for large enterprises as part of the keiretsu system of integrated supply chain groups. With some exceptions, SMBs tend to focus on the domestic market and export indirectly via the value chains of large multinational enterprises and general trading houses.
Despite this inward-looking development, Japanese SMBs are learning from their international counterparts and localizing foreign ideas to suit the local business environment. One such localization practice is cloud computing.
According to the 2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard (see Figure 1), Japan continues to lead the world in facilitating the adoption of cloud computing locally by ratifying the Convention on Cybercrime in 2012, promoting international standards, having a comprehensive privacy legislation in place, as well as intellectual property laws that cover the full range of protections relevant to cloud computing, and being committed to the deployment of very high-speed fiber broadband connections.
Figure 1 2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard
Parallels reaffirmed this finding through our annual survey of local SMBs. According to the 2013 Parallels SMB Cloud Insights™ for Japan, SMB cloud services market grew 35 percent during the past year with a shift from traditional hosting toward new cloud services.
Parallels estimates the local SMB cloud services market will reach ¥168 billion in 2013, a 22 percent increase from 2012. We observed a shift in interest from traditional hosting to new cloud services, particularly around infrastructure as a service (IaaS), web presence and web applications, hosted communication and collaboration, and online business applications.
Parallels estimates that IaaS will contribute ¥46 billion to this opportunity driven largely by micro and small SMBs (those with under 50 employees) purchasing their first servers from the cloud instead of buying in-house.
Japanese SMBs realize the commercial benefits of websites and are racing to have their presence on the web and deploying web applications. Of the 59 percent of Japanese SMBs with a company website, about 70 percent of these are now third-party hosted with a total market value estimated at ¥45 billion in 2013.
Whether operating as independent small businesses or suppliers to much larger companies, Japanese SMBs realize that hosted communication and collaboration, including hosted premium email and hosted PBX, will add up to ¥7.2 billion.
The largest area of IT investment among Japanese SMBs is on web-based business applications. Like their other Asian counterparts, Japanese SMBs do not have the technical resources in-house to manage sophisticated business software. Parallels estimates that Japanese SMBs will spend up to ¥69 billion on web-based business applications in 2013.
The opportunity for the service providers continues to grow as the cloud market continues to mature in Japan. It is a critical market for us for its strategic location as a leading business center in the region and globally and we want to enable our partners to empower more Japanese SMBs to reap the full benefits of IT as a service.