At the end of June cPanel announced a major revision to their pricing structure. Currently, a cPanel server license covers any number of accounts per server, but with just 2 months notice, from September 1st, they’ll only include 100 accounts by default. Servers using more than this arbitrarily low floor (which is nearly every cPanel server on the Internet - only premium contention services like our business plans have less than 100 accounts/server) will have to pay an additional $0.10 per account fee for every account past 100 (!)
This massively changes the economics of shared hosting and in one strike will have irrevocably changed the industry. This will be disastrous for many hosting companies and a death sentence for any host that’s been running an “Unlimited” business model. Some companies are seeing their costs increase over 1000%, per server! (and most hosts have many servers...)
I’d like to assure clients reading this that Krystal will be absolutely fine. We’ve typically shied away from “unlimited” account packages to protect the service from abuse and overcrowding, instead preferring to focus on quality hardware and support.
Hosting companies have 3 options;
1. Absorb the costs, which would be fatal in most cases.
2. Pass on the costs to clients, which will be deeply unpopular.
3. Migrate to an alternative (of which there are few), and there’s not enough time.
Either way it’s a bunch of extra work, negative PR and not a lot of time to execute. Very few companies will have the resources to transition fully in time, something Oakley Capital, the VC company that now owns cPanel, must have known when they decided on this course of action.
It’s not that I disagree entirely with WHAT Oakley/cPanel are trying to do; there’s an argument that they should be paid on a per account basis; after all they’re providing the software hosts and resellers use to support their end clients, who are normally billed per account. But there’s a big difference between sampling some of that value and slamming the floor at 100 accounts and then taking 10 cents per account above that. That’s just greedy. Bear in mind that Oakley/cPanel know exactly how many accounts there are per server running cPanel and they’ve set the limit low to produce as much revenue as possible.
This change, and the manner in which it’s been handled, will come back to bite them. They’ve assumed that because 2 months is too short a time frame to migrate away clients will put up with the change, but they’ve underestimated the industry and people won’t forget. But more on that later.
In response to this change from cPanel/Oakley Capital we’ve made the smallest number of changes possible to reduce disruption and cost increases for our clients.
Summary of Changes
Shared & Resellers
1. cPanel will still be included free of charge with all of our shared, business and reseller plans.
2. We’ve capped our top reseller plan to 100 free accounts. Additional accounts above 100 will cost £0.10 per account per month from November 1st.
These changes affect less than 0.5% of all shared, business and reseller plans. We will absorb the increased costs on behalf of clients.
3. New services - we’ve removed VPS & Dedicated cPanel server licenses from our website and have no plans to add them back.
4. Existing VPS/Dedicated server licenses - we will simply pass on the cPanel cost, changing the currency to sterling. E.g $0.10 becomes £0.10.
5. Servers with over 100 accounts will pay the new £0.10 per account per month fee.
6. Exact pricing will be communicated separately as it’s now dependent on the number of accounts hosted on your server.
7. Where users want to migrate to an alternative control panel we will make our tech support available at cost price. This will make most sense for busier servers.
The changes will come into effect on November 1st (2 months after September 1st, to provide clients with more time)
cPanel vs Oakley Capital
Like many others, I’m disappointed by not only the severity of the change but also the way in which it’s been handled. However, I think it’s worth noting that this change hasn’t come from within cPanel but from the new owners, Oakley Capital, who acquired a majority stake in cPanel in August 2018.
As far as we can tell the majority of staff at cPanel were in the dark about these changes and have been dropped in the deep end to fend off understandably distressed clients and “partners”. Those that did know about it fought to oppose the changes, as they understand the industry and what made the company so beloved and the defacto standard, but they were overruled. My feelings go out to the cPanel staff, I hope that these changes don’t jeopardise your livelihoods.
When we recently made essential changes to our plans and pricing we did a full impact analysis, the changes were much smaller in scope, affected fewer people, and were communicated with at least 3 months notice. Critically, clients who didn’t like them could move to any one of tens of thousands of alternative hosting companies. We even provided assistance in helping people move away and refunded up-front payments. With cPanel there are very few true alternates, perhaps 2, and Oakley also owns one of them.
This monopoly/lack of options presents a problem for the Internet, but one that we've just been given a massive incentive to solve...
“Every Cloud has a Silver Lining”
Change presents opportunity. And this ill-considered move from Oakley/cPanel is no exception. The industry has responded quickly and in force. Existing competitors have improved their software overnight, making improvements to their cPanel importers and adding skins and themes that will have cPanel users feel more at home.
Here at Krystal we have decided to write our own hosting control system to replace cPanel!
We believe this presents the perfect opportunity for us to double down on our commitment to writing world-class software. We’ve already got Onyx.io, our Premium HA WordPress Hosting solution and Katapult.io, a service that lets you “launch” NVMe servers and containers. This new hosting control panel when ready will run on top of Katapult and provide a slick and seamless user experience.
We’re still in the very early stages of development but have made a good start. We’d like to be able to offer early access to interested parties from the start of 2020. For now, clients can relax knowing that we’ll continue to provide the cPanel experience you’re used to and in 99.5% of cases this will be at no additional expense.
Simon Blackler - CEO
This concludes the first part of our cPanel blog series. We’ll post more updates as things progress and keep you up to date with Krystal’s plans. One thing’s for sure, Krystal’s here to stay!
About the author
Krystal Hosting is the largest independent hosting company in the UK. We’re also rated Excellent by TrustPilot and host well in excess of 200,000 websites across our hosting portfolio.
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