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After New Year, I was sitting in an airport cafe far from home and work, waiting to board. Suddenly, my meditative state of mind was interrupted by two IT-looking guys who, I guess because of my branded hoodie and backpack, asked me if I worked for Plesk. So naturally we got to talking and it turned out that they worked in a small firm using Plesk to manage web projects. As I was the first company employee they had encountered, I ended up listening to their piled-up claims against Plesk.
The same old excuses
It was clear they used an outdated version – Plesk 17.0 on a CentOS server. And their argument for this was the same old “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. They bought, launched, configured, and started using. They feared the latest version carried unnecessary problems as new products offer not only new functions, but also new bugs. Because of this, some don’t take the risk. Others don’t know how to update Plesk properly; and others have no clue that new versions are available.
Mind you, I can understand these reasons for not updating, however, they don’t outweigh the advantages of using the latest product versions. Luckily there was still plenty of time until my boarding announcement, so I started argument by going through their complaints.
Reason #1: Better Backup Storage
It’s essential for them to have a stable, reliable backup system to work on their web projects. The guys mentioned using a remote FTP server for this, however, it was unstable and they sometimes had issues during backing up or restoration. FTP server service and maintenance also required extra resources. So, I prepared my first argument – that with the latest Plesk, they could use cloud storage for backups.
Not just any cloud providers either, but industry giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, or even DigitalOcean. They tick off important criteria like security, redundancy, affordability and flexibility. They can easily set up scheduled backups and store them at one time in Google Drive and at another in Amazon S3. So they no longer need to spend resources on their FTP server for storing backups. However, the guys still shook their heads so I went on to my next reason.
Reason #2: Improved Website and Server Performance
“Do you find your websites’ performance important?” I asked, “And what are you currently doing to speed things up?” The guys eagerly explained how they spend all their working hours on that. Tinkering with the server via CLI, picking the required parameters, testing various caching-speeding plugins, and so on. They were really impressed when I told them that they could turn on effective nginx caching in Plesk with just one click and fine-tune. “And if that’s not enough”, I told them, “visit our Extensions Catalog and install Speed Kit – a complete solution for speeding up websites.”
Reason #3: Finding the important bearded owl
I had to talk about Plesk’s new best friend: the Advisor. The intelligent Adviser-owl recommends ways to improve performance of your Plesk server, without being annoying. Once you achieve all-round security, you level up to the bearded owl. The other party was so interested I had to open the laptop with my own Plesk server so they could see.
Reason #4: The Self-Repairing Feature
To further prove how the latest Plesk outshines their outdated version, I revealed the new self-repairing feature. This lets you repair Plesk by yourself right from a browser window, without having to connect to the server via SSH. Handy if you don’t have SSH access. And there’s the long-awaited process list that helps identify and manage the processes consuming the most system resources. So, before going to Plesk Support, you can launch Repair Kit to perhaps fix an issue yourself.
Reason #5: You’re always up-to-date
Another thing – if their projects grew, sooner or later they would need new, high-demand features, solutions, and technologies. Serious updates of third-party components are always implemented in the latest versions of Plesk on a clean OS. Operating systems on which Plesk is installed also have their own life cycles. So older OS versions stop supporting Plesk over time, as well as outdated versions of third-party components.
Our conversation had become a one-man show, with the guys listening attentively. It was time to finish on a high. So I said that Plesk wants all users to get the best out of the product. From increased reliability to security innovations and implementation of new demanded features. For this to happen, we occasionally stop supporting old Plesk versions.
Lastly – there’s nothing complicated to update Plesk. And once you do, you get access to all the cool, new features our team worked so hard to roll out.
Reason #6: All the latest features and more
I asked if they had seen how powerful and convenient the new WordPress Toolkit became. And SSL – which offers access to kickass features like “Keep domain secured” HSTS management. Our community, documentation, and support will always help you update and explore new opportunities. Moreover, according to our technical support data, the update from versions 17.0 and 17.5 to 17.8 goes very smoothly and Support requests are very rare.
Finally, I said, “if I was not persuasive enough, trust your peers – the Plesk server-owners. Because 41% of all Plesk Onyx 17.0 and 17.5 instances have already updated by their owners to version 17.8. Also, there are currently 61% of all Plesk servers on Plesk Onyx 17.8. Also, 80% of all new installations are Plesk Onyx 17.8.”
I could see that my recent acquaintances were satisfied and ready to update their server as we said goodbye and went towards our gates. I hope I can persuade you too that using the latest Plesk versions is the right choice for your business.
Decentralized Cloud Storage is one use case that’s growing very fast and aims to solve one of the biggest online challenges today. Cloud storage is controlled by a few super large providers (Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, Amazon, and so on). Raising questions about data protection, privacy, licensing, control and ownership of data. It’s yet another hidden blockchain opportunity for hosting and cloud providers.
Decentralized Cloud Storage in the Blockchain age
A few Blockchain companies have started working on proper alternatives, providing opportunities for cloud and hosting providers too! They all operate in a similar way:
- Instead of running storage through a company that controls it centrally, a decentralized Blockchain network stores the data.
- The technology is open source and there’s no company controlling the data within this Blockchain network.
- Compared to a centralized network, decentralized cloud storage ( decentralized networks ) represents not 100s or 1000s of computers/servers, but often millions. The price to store data is lower and the availability of such network is significantly higher than traditionally centralized networks.
- The data is encrypted and each user controls their own encryption keys. Making the Blockchain concept a rock solid, unhackable and unbreakable solution.
Examples of such Blockchains are:
- STORJ: (Funding: 35M USD) – Version S3 compatible V3 will be released soon
- Sia: (Funding: 1.5M USD) – in production
- Filecoin: (Funding: 257M USD) – no product yet, just a file system so far
- IPFS: (Funding unknown) – in production and already used by developers worldwide.
Where’s the opportunity for cloud and hosting providers?
Because of the way these Blockchain networks operate, there are two use cases that hosting & cloud service providers can pursue.
- Consume storage:
For example, use the storage of these networks to have an additional way of storing special or sensitive data, at a super cheap price.
- Contribute your spare/idle infrastructure:
Add it into the Blockchain network to help keep it up and running. Get paid in tokens.
We’re still in the early stage of decentralized storage, but the expectations are high. This considering the investment sizes and advantages this approach provides, compared to centrally-controlled cloud storage. So I recommend you have a look now and make sure you’re ready for it as early as possible.
Decentralized Computing powered by Fog Computing (aka Blockchain)
Imagine running a decentralized approach for computing power across millions of computers on a Blockchain. It’s probably one of the most complex Blockchain areas being built.
Traditional cloud computing, especially the hyperscale cloud providers, consists of a few large companies – Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba. They have central control over thousands of machines, used by millions of users. Plus a couple of thousands of hosting providers, but they’re 100x smaller than the global hyperscale giants.
There are now organizations, funded with millions of USD, that are trying to change this. So that cloud computing can become “Fog Computing” – a globally scalable network of computing power based on a Blockchain. Millions of computers connected decentrally – without central control. Making computing power usage on a global scale not only more secure, but also much more inexpensive.
Where’s the opportunity for cloud & hosting providers?
- Even if those new approaches are decentralized, the computing power behind is still required. But it will be layered and connected across the world through a secure and scalable Blockchain layer. Such computing power (spare, idle infrastructure) can be easily contributed into those networks and get paid in tokens.
- In case you need in-expensive computing power in a secure and scalable way, those offerings will be much more cost effective than traditional offering.
Here are a few well-funded companies working hard to launch or have already launched their network. Some even go as far as to develop apps on these infrastructures using the new standard, Webassembly.
Next Blockchain steps for Hosting & Cloud Providers?
Despite its early stage in a super fast growing and developing space, there already are multiple initial Blockchain use cases. So it’s definitely the right time for the cloud and hosting provider industry to be part of it. We recommend checking all the use cases mentioned above and in part 2 of our Blockchain series and seeing if they work for you. Be active, grow your business.
Recommendations for further reading:
- Blockchain beyond the hype: What is the strategic business value?
- Latest Blockchain news at Coindesk and Coin Telegraph.
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