ViUX Hosting was in attendance at HostingCon 2006, held in Las Vegas, NV – (July 17 – 19). Our purpose for attending was to meet and speak with the various product and service vendors present in the exhibit hall… with primary focus being upon finding a new control panel that would allow us to expand, enhance, as well as, improve our web hosting services.

Before going we created a list of features that the control panel needed to have and gave each an “importance” rating. While in attendance, we spoke with each control panel vendor (asking lots of questions) and evaluated their product features against our list. The control panels that we considered (in no particular order), included: Helm; H-Sphere; Plesk; Ensim; Cpanel; and others.

Based upon a number of factors, we narrowed the list down to three contenders: Helm; Plesk; and H-Sphere. Each of these was subjected to further scrutiny during the remainder of July, which included: direct talks with and quotes from the vendors; testing with online demos; searching for comments about each posted on the web; internal cost / benefit analysis; etc.

We eliminated Helm from further consideration primarily because the latest version (4.0) was only released (in beta) on July 17th (to coincide with HostingCon), and is not scheduled for official release until October. Being that Helm 4.0 was being promoted last year at HostingCon 2005 in Chicago, we were concerned that the October release date may “slip”. We were also concerned about using newly released software and the fact that Helm does not support VPS (one of the desired features on our list).

This left us with H-Sphere and Plesk, both of which support VPS with the help of additional products (FreeVPS for H-Sphere & Virtuozzo for Plesk). However FreeVPS works only on Linux systems, whereas, Virtuozzo works on both Linux and Windows systems to provide VPS – and is the leading VPS (Virtual Private Servers) application.

When all was said and done, we decided to select Plesk and Virtuozzo controlled by HSPcomplete (later – Parallels Business Automation Standard) – all from SWsoft (later – Parallels).

The multitude of factors that affected this decision would be too numerous to list in totality; however some of the primary distinguishing elements (as we see them) between Plesk and H-sphere had to do with: available training; 24/7 support services and support cost; upgrade path to a carrier grade solution (i.e. PEM from SWsoft); company focus (i.e. Psoft / Comodo not focused solely on H-Sphere development); company location (i.e. SWsoft is a U.S. based company – 4 hours away from us in Herndon, VA); Windows and Linux VPS; etc.

The purchase of HSPcomplete (now – Odin Business Automation Standard), Virtuozzo, and Plesk was made from SWsoft (later – Parallels) on 7/31/06, so more details will be forth coming of the things to come.