Looking into VPS again

Four years ago I did a review for a client on what were the major  dedicated VPS-Virtual Private Server options. It is important to identify a  dedicated server because that means you are the only user of the server and have access to its IP, transcode, and password so you can customize the hardware  and software stack running at any time. The idea is a)to improve response time and uptime by having a dedicated server  all your own and b)take advantage of the direct access to your machine for coding special routines for WordPress and other app interactions.

Well, 4 years ago  there was a bazaar of hardware and software combos available – huge servers  with special software/hardware connections,   Managed VPS services,  Big Cloud Servers Shops, and everyone offering a special deal – including VPS that were defnitely NOT Dedicated &Private but a hardware vendor’s special “condo” amalgam. Then the pandemic hit and that changed the business proposition for my client.

But having done the basic research, an investment in true VPS seemed worthwhile given my own  escalating Shared Hosting costs and declining response times on some servers. And so TheOpenSourcery.com  blog was switched from shared hosting to a dedicated VPS install at theOpenSourcery.ca using Runcloud.io:
The change-over resulted in much faster edits, better response time, and a big bonus – no down time.  But also the same server could now support several of my own special WordPress apps with very good response time. Thus I joined the Shared Self-Hosting Business. So given largely positive results why a look into VPS now?

Well again it was case of chance circumstances – at a very informative Rochester WordPress Meetup, co-organizer Maryann Reissig asked about VPS and particularly the recent BlueHost VPS offerings.  This caught my attention and so I did some serious Googling about VPS hardware and software offerings.  Wow, I discovered an amazing array of new deals. Here is the breakout:
Hardware Gear:
WebDock – has 5GB Ram, 50GB disk, 5 thread Xeon for $75.6US/year with full service Control SW
Vultr – has 2 vCPU, 4GB RAM, 3TB Bandwidth, 80GB disk but No control SW for $240US/year
Ionos – 2vCPU, 4GB RAM, 120GB Disk for $230/year with Plesk Control SW
iweb -XeonE3, 32GB RAM, 2TB HDD, 30TB bandwidth fo $37.44CAD/mo, No control SW
Server.com – XeonE3, upto 2 HDD drives, upto 32GB RAM for $103.46US/mo, No Control SW
Strasmore -2vCPU, 16GB Ram, 160GB Disk, 10TB bandwidth, No control SW
Kamatera – provide VPS calculato for instant costing starting at $59/mo

There are a lot more hardware vendors out there but be careful of three things. First, many vendors are selling faux VPS so called “condo-shared systems” where they choose configuration of the shared components. Second, many have bargain pricing for 1/2 year or more and then a dramatie price increase in subsequent periods. Third, many vendors are hiding behind Managed VPS and Shared Private Server  confusion – read this sample.Be sure to get clear specifications on what your rented server will actually do and require to work properly particularly the underlying software.
Control Software
Control Software is vital to your VPS installation, particulary if you intend to run multiple apps and/or WordPress sites on the same VPS . As you can see a few of the hardware vendors  do offer control software. but there is quite a variation in what is on offer. Here is the various levels of control services needed:
1 – interface routines that allow users to access to IP address and entrance/password code to configure choice of driver OS[ most often some flavor of Linux but occasionally Windows and iOS] plus the  basic RAM and Disk space partitions. Also Git, FTP and Mail connections to the Cloud can be customized along with loading driver software;
2 – Runtime customizer software for intsalling major native packages like Magento, Joomla, Ecommerce,Drupal,  WordPress and other open source, cloud ready software packages;
3 – Backend services to set sitewide security & SSL  systems, backup services, performance tuning routines, SEO and analytics apps, database tuning with migration/staging operations, etc.
4 – Frontened services like a file manager, general code editor, printing and admin services setup ;|
5 – Messaging services include email and message setup & transmission controls, integration portals, and enterprise integrations;
6 – Central Admin dashboard to manage all the services and processes  under the control software supervision. WordPress users may be familiar with control software like MainWP for managing the updates, uptime status, security state  of their WordPress websites..
Yes, the control software is instrumental in making your VPS system productive. And so it should not be a surprise that there a number of contenders for the business. But a forewarning remark is due. One vendor, cPanel is the current dominant player  like Adobe in Graphics software including following Adobe’s aggressive  prices. But in general if you thought hardware feature and pricing was a bazaar, rest assured the Control Software market is equally challenging. With that caution here are the major VPS software players:
Plesk – offers a complete 5 layer package with many extensions. Pleesk complains about cPanel’s agressive pricing but follows up with its own “rich deals”;
Spanel – is really a Managed Cloud Hosting service with no provision for dedicated VPS;
Cloudways – is a cloud hosting platform with basic dedicated VPS SSH & SFTP access services using Vultr, DigitalOcean, AWS providers with some  Backend & Admin tools. For 1vCPU, 2GB Ram, 50GB disk, 2TB bandwidth dedicated VPS  costs $22/month.
OviPanel – dedicated VPS control software with some Backend and Frontend services and very competitive $60 year for unlimited accounts. Downside, no UBuntu or Debian OS support.
Interworx – is a Liquid Web subsidiary offering dedicated Cloud server & software @ $159/month. And $10/month Managed hostings machines.
CyberPanel– provides backend, admin , database, and basic security services for LightSpeed or LightSpeed Enterprise servers and cost $11/month with $129 one time full set of add-ons.
VestaCP – like Cyberpanel provides basic backend/backup, database, and security services plus Softaculou as admin egine- free core,premium starts at $6/month.RHel, Centos, Debian, Ubuntu.
AApanel – like VestaCP supportsCentos, Debian, Ubuntu with cPanel clone admin for database, basic security, file manager, anlytics, and messaging – $125/yr core sytem
ISPCONFIG – another free Contol Panel with 40K downloads/month supporting Centos, Debian, Ubuntu, , OpenSuse, Fedora with a top level Admin interface – so far add-ons are free.
DirectAdmin – $60/yr, 2 accounts 10 domains, admin interface Softaculous-like clone
CWPpro – Centos based cPanel replacement costs $143/year with support.
Webmin – Is a Perl based BSD open Control Panel that integrates with a huge array of Unix systems including Solaris, Debian, Centos and forms the core for  VirtualMin
VirtualMin – is a very popular Linux Control panel for running many different apps including WordPress, Magento, Drupal, etc. Free or pro version with 10 domains & support costs $7.50US/month.

In sum, the Control Software is divided into 2 camps. The cPanel clones that set the standard for Web Server Control Server operations versus  the free Open Source tools. The major trade off  is the  formidable price for multi-site/account cPanel-like  installations.  . In contrast, the Open Source tools  often interface with more Linux and 3rd party operating systems while still supporting many of the 5 key control center  operations for a Web Server. To succeed using either control software solution will go much more smoothly will go more smoothly with basic Linux, PHP, Javascript and MySQL database system knowledge.

Is there opportunity here? For a Web Development agency managing many accounts or a Training/Learning Business with many clients and many demo systems, this is likely a path already followed. So the question is how do current Web Development costs and  features make cents. Given rapid change in desktop vs mobile usage, continually presssing security demands, retail vs online vs social media models of doing busines – The Linux based  multi-Web Server Operations will impact not just WordPress but Web Developemrnt broadly.

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