What to Look for When Choosing Hosting Automation Software
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If youíre a small web host, and especially if youíre a web hosting reseller looking to grow your business, the number of tasks you have to handle will quickly become enough to overwhelm even the most organized person. You wonít be able to grow past a certain point without software to automate at least some functions. In this article, Iíll take a look at some of the parts of your business that can benefit from software automation.
There are several areas that can be well served by web hosting software automation. These can be usefully divided into the front end and back end, or, more functionally, into the customer-facing software and the business processes. This does not mean that each set of tools operates in isolation; they communicate with each other to keep things running smoothly.
For example, letís look at the simple process of billing. Billing software creates invoices and bills customers automatically. Proper billing software keeps track of who paid and who is overdue; it also tracks account usage, and can add the appropriate fees to clients who have used more than their allotted storage or bandwidth. But if you really want to score with your clients, you should also be able to warn them when theyíre getting close to their limits, and let them proactively upgrade Ė or pay in advance through their own control panels. So billing software may seem to be mostly a back end business process, but it obviously has customer-facing elements that canít be ignored.
Granting that these functions are tied together, letís consider how web hosting automation is handled. Particularly if youíre a web hosting reseller, you may find it easiest to use control panel software. This software usually offers a GUI interface for both you and your customers, and allows for the handling of most problems and changes with a few clicks of a mouse. The best-known web hosting control panels include H-Sphere, produced by Positive Software (http://www.psoft.net/); Plesk, produced by SWSoft (http://www.swsoft.com/plesk/); and the nigh-ubiquitous cPanel, produced by cPanel (http://www.cpanel.net/index.html).
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