Duetsoft Profits Grow by 25% Using Plesk WordPress Toolkit & DigitalOcean

Duetsoft success story with Plesk and DigitalOcean - Plesk

Khandaker Ikrama, owner of Duetsoft web development agency, sheds light on how Plesk’s WordPress Toolkit helps his agency work effectively. Managing custom development and web design for WordPress on multiple customer websites. Read the story of Duetsoft, Plesk and DigitalOcean below.

Why we partnered with Plesk

Why Duetsoft partnered with Plesk

My agency began as a very small company two years ago. At that time, the agency’s ability to deliver services was wholly dependent on me and my skills. However, I soon made the decision to scale my business.

The problem was that all my customer’s had different site and maintenance priorities. And, unfortunately, I didn’t have a team large enough to cover all of their needs well. So I needed to find a reputable company to outsource all of these maintenance tasks.

Plesk came into the picture when I read a piece of content on WPMayor about How To Manage Multiple WordPress Sites Efficiently.

When I realized I could keep over a dozen websites simultaneously updated and supported with Plesk, I was relieved. Now I could put that extra time towards other activities – ones which might net the company a higher profit margin.

“Automation is a term I was familiar with - in this context it simply means having software or a tool that can perform a routine job automatically, without the need for constant input.”

Moreover, the fact that, with Plesk, I wouldn’t need to hire and manage a lot of freelancers was a bonus.

Duetsoft’s smooth transition to Plesk

Duetsoft's smooth transition into Plesk

“Plesk is super easy to install and configure on DigitalOcean in just a few clicks.”

Getting started with Plesk was as easy as 1-2-3: We used the Plesk One Click App from the DigitalOcean Marketplace. Then started with one website on DigitalOcean. The first test website went really well, and it just grew from there. The transition going forward was just as smooth as the test and startup phase.

I can honestly say that testing new plugins, features and design ideas is easy with the WordPress Toolkit Extension. You simply test everything in a sandbox before publishing live on the website. Furthermore, you don’t need any extra plugins or separate servers for this – the WordPress Toolkit in Plesk manages everything.

“The WordPress Toolkit is an agency dream, giving you an array of tools for customization, management, security, hosting, and automation for all your websites and the infrastructure they rely on.”

Overall, our partnership with Plesk has been one of honesty and transparency. And we always receive timely responses. This enables my agency to make sure our clients always have support on everything from basic requests to Remote Management or Smart Updates powered by AI from Plesk’s Extension Catalog.

Business benefits for Duetsoft

Business Benefits

The initial goal in using Plesk and the WordPress Toolkit was to automate and offload WordPress maintenance tasks. However, I got much more than I originally bargained for. There were three key areas in which Plesk helped my agency grow:

1. Revenues increased with more clients

‘’Since we started working with Plesk on DigitalOcean, revenue has increased - a lot!”

It wasn’t only about making various WordPress maintenance tasks easier and automating them as much as we could. But also about having the capacity to no longer turn clients away. Now, I can capture them all.

2. Profitability has gone up with investment in automation

The total amount of revenue coming in isn’t the only way I’m reaping the rewards either. Profit margins are much higher now, too. With the WordPress Toolkit, agency team members can now focus on tackling tasks that play to their strengths. It’s this investment in automation and task orchestration that’s made my operations run much more efficiently.

3. Greater functionality gave added value to customers

Since Plesk are WordPress specialists, and provide so many different features and functionality, I now feel as though my customers are truly taken care of. It’s this added value from features like Smart Updates powered by AI or Remote WordPress Management that has contributed to my agency’s growth.

Future goals for our Plesk partnership

Last year, a lot of our goals were based on basic financials. Now we want to move forward in 2019 (and beyond). We anticipate to continue to experience the same level of growth.

Khandaker Ikrama owner of Duetsoft Plesk

“My agency experienced a 25% increase in profitability”

I also hope to expand further on our value-added services. Managed services are becoming increasingly popular with businesses around the world. eCommerce, in particular, is an area that I hope to do more with, as it’s a particular niche with a lot of ongoing needs. However, I believe that my agency, in conjunction with Plesk managed services, can easily take care of them.

Managing WordPress for one website or thousands doesn’t have to be a chore. And it shouldn’t be something that holds your company back from scaling, or generating a solid profit margin either. If you want to give the best to both your customers and your agency, then you need to work with an infrastructure provider and partner you can rely on. Thankfully I found trusted partners in Plesk WordPress Toolkit and DigitalOcean.

About Duetsoft

About Duetsoft Plesk

Duetsoft is an intentionally small web development agency based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They focus on custom development and web design for WordPress, the CMS of choice for businesses of all sizes. Whether they are individuals, resellers, ISVs, SMBs, or enterprises.

How Plesk Brought Order to My Agency – Rise.co

How Plesk Brought Order to My Agency - Rise.co and Plesk

The success story of how Plesk helped Rise.co get aligned and serve their clients better than ever, as told by Kahl Orr.

One of the most challenging realities of scaling your business is being able to organize everything well. With more success comes more complexity I discovered – as the founder of web design and development startup, Rise.

I’m a web developer and entrepreneur, who developed a passion for coding and building websites when I was only in middle school. I’ve since turned that early love of web development into a thriving, digital startup that’s growing fast.

Rise.co is on track to breaking the half-million-dollar annual revenue mark this year alone. A true milestone that’s built on the back of designing and developing high-quality websites for a veritable army of very satisfied customers.

One thing is clear: I wouldn’t be where I am today without the capabilities of Plesk.

When Everything Was All Over the Place

When Everything was all over the place at Rise.co

As Rise.co expanded, it went from a solo operation, run just by me, to a team of 10 that I manage. Accounting for this growth was client work that became more demanding, with some clients owning dozens and dozens of websites. Due to this explosion of work, we outgrew our usual way of doing things.

We were hosting websites for our clients all over the place, under different hosting platforms. Managing them was difficult, and our processes weren’t able to be streamlined. When we needed to host about 100 websites for one client, we knew we needed a way to better organize things. That’s when we found Plesk.

A big reason for this disarray was our hosting solutions couldn’t support the magnitude of work we were taking on. I had that Aha! moment when I considered the hosting solutions we were providing clients with multiple websites. They were letting us down in terms of management, efficiency and ease of use.

That’s when I knew that we couldn’t support our breakneck growth if we stayed with our old website management habits. And so the search for a new and better hosting solution was underway. Luckily, I spoke to our team at Rackspace, who provides our IT support. They immediately recommended moving all our sites to a Plesk environment.

How Plesk Became a Game-Changer for Rise.co

Plesk Obsidian

With any new platform, there’s always a learning curve, but I found that Plesk’s platform allowed us to learn it without any friction. That’s really saying something when you consider how feature-rich Plesk is.

We were not used to being able to manage all websites in one place or being able to quickly and easily set up and manage WordPress installs. Once we learned the platform, however, we were able to build efficient processes for our team to manage, update and maintain bulk sites from one Plesk environment.

Rise.co moved to Plesk to help better serve our larger clients with numerous websites. Now, we can set a Plesk install for all our larger clients with many websites. We can easily set up WordPress, update and maintain sites, manage databases and PHP versions at per-site level. All within one Plesk account.

It’s made our web administration and development teams’ lives so much easier. After only working in this more efficient environment for a short time, I was already able to see the difference. Here’s what our results were:

  • More productivity from ease of use
  • Better site management
  • Increased efficiency and processes
  • The ability for our IT support (Rackspace) to easily step in and help when needed

Needless to say, because of these positive results, I envision a long-term partnership with Plesk.

How We Use Plesk Today

Using Plesk Obsidian today

Currently, things are running like clockwork on Plesk. I really appreciate how the platform enables us to showcase our design and development savvy to our clients without missing a beat. Plesk’s platform is our go-to solution in order to manage bulk websites for a single client.

We work with several franchise corporations that have more than 100 locations and websites. Plesk allows us to offer them our services for bulk websites with confidence. All the headaches of a disunited hosting setup are now a thing of the past.

If I had to narrow down all the benefits the platform has given us to just a few bullet points, they would be:

  • The capacity to manage bulk websites in one place
  • The ability to easily manage single databases and server settings at the per-site level
  • The reality that Rackspace supports your platform, which means we didn’t need to switch support teams (always a plus!)

Of course, the benefits of Plesk aren’t just contained to its platform. In other words, I’ve seen measurable gains in my business that correlate to when I started using Plesk.

What Rise.co Has Done Since Switching to Plesk

Rise.co since switching to Plesk

One of the best ways that I can think of to illustrate how a platform like Plesk empowers my agency is in the numbers and how it’s positively affected how I run it.

Year over year, my agency has already more than doubled its revenue. Such staggering growthcoming in such a short period of time—would not be possible without the streamlining of our hosting that Plesk has enabled.

The other side of the equation is what my life now looks like now. All thanks to the security of having such a better platform to serve our clients. These days, I can confidently transition into actually running my company as opposed to just working on our projects, like:

  • Growing my agency further by netting more clients
  • Delighting my existing client base
  • Leading my team to provide first-rate service to our customers

Plesk has been such a good fit with Rise that I really wish I’d discovered it sooner. The only thing I will advise anyone interested in using Plesk is to work with someone already experienced with Plesk. So that they can help get you up and running much quicker!

Rise Agency

Rise is a fast-growing web development agency, building high-end, custom websites and web and mobile apps for national brands.

Deploying Plesk Onyx on Microsoft Windows Azure

Cloud computing provides businesses the ability to quickly scale computing resources without the costly and laborious task of building data centres, and without the costs of running servers with idle capacity due to variable workloads. To simplify dynamic provisioning in the Cloud for infrastructure providers (including service providers who offer dedicated servers, VPS or IaaS), Plesk now provides ready-to-go images for deploying on Microsoft Windows Azure.

What is Windows Azure?

Quite simply, anything you want it to be.

This cloud platform from Microsoft provides a wide range of different services, to help you build, deploy, and manage solutions for almost any purpose you can imagine. In other words, Windows Azure is a world of unlimited possibilities. Whether you’re a large enterprise spanning several continents that needs to run server workloads, or a small business that wants a website with a global reach, Windows Azure provides a platform for building applications that can leverage the cloud to meet the needs of your business.

In addition to traditional cloud offerings, Azure offers services that leverage proprietary Microsoft technologies. For example, RemoteApp allows for the deployment of Windows programs using a virtual machine running Windows, OS X, Android, or iOS through a remote desktop connection. Azure also offers cloud-hosted versions of common Microsoft enterprise solutions, such as Active Directory and SQL Server.

Questions about Windows Azure?

There are two great places you can go online to ask questions about Windows Azure and get answers from the community:

  • The Windows Azure forums on MSDN.
  • Get involved with the Azure Community on Stack Overflow here.

The best way to keep up with new features and enhancements in Windows Azure is by following the official Windows Azure Blog. If you use a newsreader, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog and get the news as it happens.

Microsoft Windows Azure Dashboard
Image: Microsoft

What is Plesk Onyx?

It’s what Web Professionals like Developers, Designers, Agencies, IT-Admins use to simplify their work lives.

Plesk is the leading WebOps platform to build, secure and automate applications, websites and hosting businesses. Available in more than 32 languages across 140 countries in the world, 50% of the top 100 worldwide service providers are Plesk partners. Our WebOps platform is designed to help infrastructure providers create targeted solutions for Web Professionals, Web Hosts, and Hosting Service Providers.

Key solution areas include:

  • Unlimited domains
  • WordPress Toolkit
  • Developer Pack
  • Subscription Management
  • Account Management
  • Reseller Management

The new Plesk Onyx for Windows and Linux (WebHost) also includes a tightly integrated set of mass-management and security tools that can be used to protect and automate WordPress. All Plesk-powered systems come with built-in server-to-site security, promising more reliable infrastructure and reduced support costs.

Plesk Onyx at Microsoft Windows Azure Virtual Machines Marketplace
Image: Microsoft

Here’s the good news: Plesk Onyx now runs on Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure to provide the scalability, security, and performance that customers depend on.

Better news yet, Plesk provides a variety of virtual machine images with the most popular configurations. So no actual installation is required. You’ll just need to create a virtual machine from the appropriate image. All available images for virtual machines can be found in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

 

Which virtual machine images are provided?

The new Plesk Onyx images are shipped in three editions and are available for both Windows and Linux.

The ‘Bring Your Own License’ (BYOL) instance of Plesk Onyx allows you to purchase your own license directly from the Plesk Online Store or from a Plesk reseller. For Plesk Onyx WebHost images, the cost of your license is included in the hourly charge for the instance. Plesk Onyx licenses are available for two platform types: for Dedicated Servers and for VPS.

License and OS version:
Plesk Onyx images at Microsoft Windows Azure

Now that you’re familiar with the Windows Azure platform and Plesk, you’re ready to take the next steps. And there’s no better way to experience the powerful capabilities of Windows Azure than trying out the platform for yourself.

 

Getting started with Plesk and Windows Azure

Microsoft is currently offering a free one-month trial of Windows Azure that provides you with $200 of Windows Azure credits you can use for whatever you want. You get full access to the platform with no strings attached. Just sign in with your Microsoft account and fill out the form.

Tutorials

These tutorials by Cynthia Nottingham, Technical Writer at Microsoft, shows you how easy it is to create a Windows virtual machine (VM) from a Plesk-published image by using the Azure portal.

 

Quick Start Guide: Create a virtual machine

Log into the Azure Portal and on your Dashboard, select New> Compute. Search for the Plesk virtual machine images and select the appropriate Plesk configuration.

Microsoft Windows Azure - Plesk Onyx images
Image: Microsoft

When configuring a virtual machine, you will be asked to specify the following settings:

1. Basic settings: virtual machine name, disk type (SSD or HD), username and password, your Azure subscription and resource group.

Note: The root username cannot be used during the VM creation. You may grant the root user access to the VM later from the console.

For Linux VM, you can choose the following authentication types:

  • SSH public key. In this case, you should specify your SSH public key. You can find information about creating public and private SSH keys here.
  • Password. In this case, you should specify and confirm the password that will be used for connection to the virtual machine.

2. VM size. You can choose one of available standard sizes provided by Azure.

3. Storage and network settings, including virtual network, subnet, public IP address, network security group (firewall). It is OK to leave the default values for most options.

Note: By default, your machine will have a dynamic IP address, so that the IP address will be changed each time when the virtual machine is restarted. If you want to avoid this, click Public IP address and then select the Static option. The virtual machine will be created with a static IP address.

4. Deployment. When you’ve dialed in all the settings, you’ll be presented with a summary. Confirm these settings for your new VM and click OK. Finally, your offer details will be generated and you can now purchase your virtual machine by clicking the Purchase button. The deployment process will start, and you will see its progress on your Dashboard.

5. You’ve created a VM. Your new VM will deploy in a couple of minutes. Once your virtual machine is deployed, it will be automatically started and the setting page will be displayed. You also can view and manage your virtual machine settings by going to Virtual Machines and selecting your virtual machine name.

Of course, you will be able to see the Public IP address of the machine.

Microsoft Azure - virtual machine configuration
Image: Microsoft

Access Plesk Onyx on your virtual machine

Connect to the virtual machine.

  • If you’ve created a Windows Virtual Machine, you can connect to it via Remote Desktop. Go to the Azure Portal Dashboard >Virtual Machines, choose your VM, and click Connect. This will create and download a Remote Desktop Protocol file (.rdp file) that acts like a shortcut to connect to your machine. Open this file and connect to your virtual machine using your login and password.

  • If you have a Linux VM, you can SSH into its public IP address that is displayed in the virtual machine’s settings. Depending on your selected authentication type, you may either use a login and password, or your SSH public key.

  • From a Mac or Linux workstation, you can SSH directly from the Terminal. For example:

     ssh -i ~/.ssh/azure_id_rsa [email protected]
  • If you are on a Windows workstation, then you will need to use PuTTY, MobaXTerm or Cygwin to SSH to Linux. For details, see How to Use SSH keys with Windows on Azure.

 

Get a one-time login for logging in to Plesk

  • On the virtual machine, run

     $ sudo plesk login

    to get a one-time login for logging in to Plesk. You will receive two links: based on the virtual machine name and based on the IP address. Use the link based on the IP address to log in to Plesk.

login via ssh to Plesk Onyx

Note: You cannot use the link based on the virtual machine name the first time you log in because Plesk has not passed the initial configuration and the full hostname has not been created yet. You should use the link corresponding to your public IP address.

 

Running the Installation/Configuration wizard

1. When you log into Plesk, you will see the View Selector page. On this page, you can choose the appearance of the panel as per your requirements.

Plesk Onyx configuration wizard
Image: Plesk Onyx

Once your purpose has been identified, a second drop-down menu will emerge asking you select your preferred layout. This can be changed later.

2. Then comes the Settings page. Here you need to fill in your hostname, IP configuration, and admin password.

  • New hostname: Fill in your primary domain (i.e. testdomain.com).
  • Default IP Address: Leave the IP as default.
  • New password: Change the default administrator password.

Plesk Onyx Settings
Image: Plesk Onyx

3. Next is the Administrator information page. Just fill in the information asked and proceed to the next page.

4. Then comes the License key install page. Your Microsoft Azure instance is billed on an hourly basis, starting when it boots up and ending with the instance termination.

  • If you have a Bring Your Own License (BYOL) Plesk Onyx image, your hourly charge for the Microsoft Azure instance will be lower but you need to purchase and install the Plesk product license yourself. You can order, retrieve and install a 14-day full-featured trial license from this page. Since you have already purchased a license key, proceeding with installing the license key.
  • If you have a non-BYOL Plesk Onyx image, for example, Plesk Onyx on Windows 2012 R2 (WebHost), the cost of the license will be included in the hourly charge for the instance.

5. On the Create your Webspace page you can specify the domain name of your first subscription, and system user account username and password that you will use to manage it. This will create a subscription for hosting multiple sites.

6. Woohoo! Plesk is now configured!

Plesk Onyx - Administration dashboard
Image: Plesk Onyx

Thanks to the Microsoft Windows Azure team for co-authoring the introduction to this article and for providing feedback and technical insights on Windows Azure.

Be well, do good, and stay Plesky!