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.

Plesk on DigitalOcean is now a one-click app

According to Alex Konrad, Forbes Editor of the Cloud 100 list, Cloud companies like DigitalOcean are revolutionizing how businesses reach their customers today. From digitizing painful old processes to allowing them more time to focus on what they really care about. This is what makes their products unique.

As a Web Professional (Developer, Agency owner, IT Admin) your goal is to provide valuable services to your customers. You want to be able to focus on the things you’re good at. And leave the nitty gritty of technical server management, cost streamlining, running instances, backups, and account management to a VPS. Because a virtual private server fits this purpose exactly. Tired of managing infrastructure and security, when what you want is to focus on coding and improving your product or service? Then Plesk Onyx is the ideal solution.

What is Digital Ocean?

We know DigitalOcean, founded in 2011, as a cloud infrastructure provider with a “developer first” mentality. They simplify web infrastructure for software developers and their mission is to smooth out the complexities of infrastructure. How? By offering one simple and robust platform for developers to easily launch and scale their applications. DigitalOcean is now the second largest and fastest-growing cloud computing platform of all public apps and websites, according to Netcraft.

Over 750,000 registered customers have launched more than 20 million Droplets combined on DigitalOcean. The company is now investing heavily in advancing its platform to further support growing teams and larger applications in production.

DigitalOcean cloud hosting
Image: DigitalOcean

Plesk on DigitalOcean

Plesk manages and secures over 380,000 servers, automates 11 million websites and at least 19 million mailboxes. It’s the leading WebOps, Hosting and Web Server Control Panel to build, secure and run your applications, websites and hosting business. You’ll find it in 32 languages and 140 countries, with 50% of the top 100 worldwide service providers partnering with Plesk today.

Key Plesk Onyx Features

The versatile Plesk Onyx control panel
  • The WebOps platform

Manage all your domains, DNS, applications websites and mailboxes from one single platform.

  • DigitalOcean DNS – integrated into Plesk

The free Plesk DigitalOcean extension integrates Plesk with the DigitalOcean DNS service. This web service is highly available and scalable and you can use it as an external DNS service for your domains. The extension will automatically sync DNS zones between Plesk and DigitalOcean DNS. Here’s how:

  1. After installing Plesk, add your first domain/website.
  2. Then navigate to the domain and click “DigitalOcean DNS” for that domain.
  3. Enter your DigitalOcean API credentials into the extension. Or use OAuth to authorize your DigitalOcean account.
  4. Start having your domains in sync with Digital Ocean DNS.
  • Automated Server Administration

Easily manage your server, including automated updates, application deployment, monitoring, backups and maintenance.

  • User-Friendly Interface

One dashboard to manage multiple sites. Build websites, run updates, monitor performance, and onboard new customers from one place.

  • Security

Plesk on DigitalOcean secures  your applications and websites automatically.  You get a firewall, fail2ban and a web application installed and activated by default. Plus various additional options available on demand as Plesk Extensions. Or by simply upgrading to a Premium Plesk Edition.

  • Ready-to-Code Environment

Enable and manage multiple PHP versions and configurations, JavaScript, Perl, Ruby or Node.js, all in one-click. Every stack is deployed automatically and allows you to do custom configurations as you need.

  • Self-Repair Tools

We built automated healing and recovery functionality into Plesk, so many technical issues can self-repair without any need for support. This starts at fully-automated (safe) updates, including all OS components. And goes to various available manual self-repair tools up to a complete repair panel, in the unlikely event of something going wrong. Additionally, Plesk continuously monitors all relevant system components’ health, and provides notifications to the administrator before something goes wrong.

  • Multi-Language support

Plesk is available in 32 languages.

  • Plesk Extensions

Plesk  is a super-light application, automating all your server components and management needs on Lightsail in a single environment. As your business needs grow, you can use the in-app Plesk Extensions catalog to enable additional features on-demand. Many are free and some provide extra value when premium. Get access by clicking on “Extensions” inside Plesk itself.

Plesk WordPress Toolkit – secure and simple

Staging environment best practices - Plesk WordPress Toolkit

Find full details on Plesk WordPress Toolkit here, but here are some key features below.

  • WordPress Simplified:

One-click installer to initialize and configure WordPress from start to finish. One dashboard to mass-manage multiple WordPress instances.

  • Secure Against Attacks

Hardens your site by default, further enhanced with the Toolkit’s security scanner. No security expertise necessary.

  • Run and Automate your WordPress

Singularly or mass-execute updates to the WP core, themes or plugins. Monitor and run all your WordPress sites from one dashboard.

  • Simple, but not Amateur

Get full control with WP-CLI, maintenance mode, debug management, search engine index management and more.

  • Stage and Test*

Test new features and ideas in a sandbox before pushing them to production – No plugins required, no separate server needed.

  • Cut Out Complexity*

Stage, Clone, Sync, Update, Migrate and more. Execute all these complex tasks with one click. No more high-risk activities or stressed-out dev teams.

  • Smart Updates powered by AI*

Smart Updates feature for WordPress Toolkit analyzes your WordPress updates and performs them without breaking your site. Otherwise, it will warn you the update may be dangerous.

  • One-Click Performance Optimized*

You can reach a maximum performance of your WordPress sites and no time and with great simplicity. Just enable NGINX caching in one click and combine with Speed Kit, powered by a distributed Fastly® CDN and Varnish cache.

*Some of these features are not available within the free Plesk Web Admin SE but require an upgrade to a higher value premium edition of Plesk or Plesk Extension.

Plesk on DigitalOcean (free) includes Plesk Web Admin Edition SE, a free version of Plesk with up to 3 domains and good for small websites and certain limitations. To gift yourself with a higher value Plesk edition, check out our Plesk Upgrades.

How to deploy Plesk on DigitalOcean

  1. First, log in to your DigitalOcean account.

2. Then, from the main dashboard, click “Droplets” and “Create” -> “Droplets”.

Plesk on DigitalOcean now a one-click app - How to deploy - Create Droplet

3. Under “Choose an image”, click “one-click apps”

4. Select “Plesk”.

PLesk on DigitalOcean - Now a one-click app - Choose a size - Droplets

5. Choose your size and then a data center region. If you plan to host small business websites, we recommend choosing the zone closest to their geographic location to reduce page load times for local visitors.

Note: Plesk runs smoothly with 1GB RAM and 1 vCPU for smaller websites and environments. Running many websites or higher traffic requires a larger droplet size.
Please also refer to the Plesk infrastructure requirements for details.

Plesk on DigitalOcean now a one-click app - Finalize and create Droplet

6. Additional options such as Private networkingBackupsUser data, and Monitoring are not necessary for most Plesk users. Then click “Create”.

7. You can log in to your droplet using:

  • A root password, which you will receive by email. If you go with this option, skip the “Add your SSH keys” step and go to the next one.
    • Just type in your browser: https://<your-droplet-IP>:8443 . You will potentially see for 30 seconds some finishing procedure of the automatic deployment. Afterwards you will automatically land in the initial on-boarding of Plesk.
  • An SSH key. If you go with this option, click New SSH key to add a new SSH key or select a previously added key (if you have any).

Note: Using SSH keys is a more secure way of logging in. If you use a root password, we strongly recommend that you log in to the droplet command line and change the root password received by email. The command line will automatically prompt you to do so.

Enjoy and let us know if there are any questions!

How to deploy Plesk Onyx on Amazon EC2

Plesk on AWS

In the latest Magic Quadrant report for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide, for the 6th straight year, Gartner placed Amazon Web Services in the “Leaders” quadrant and named AWS as having both the furthest completeness of vision and the highest ability to execute. Today, AWS provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries around the world.

What is AWS?

Amazon web services is the cloud computing platform by Amazon.com. Building and running your business starts with computing, whether you are building mobile apps, or running massive clusters to sequence the human genome. AWS has over 70 infrastructure services, such as computing power, storage options, networking and databases, delivered as a utility: on-demand, available in seconds, with pay-as-you-go pricing.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) forms a central part of Amazon Web Services, by allowing users to rent virtual computers on which to run their own computer applications. EC2 encourages scalable deployment of applications by providing a web service through which a user can boot an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) to configure a virtual machine, which Amazon calls an “instance”, containing any software desired.

A user can create, launch, and terminate server-instances as needed, paying by the hour for active servers – hence the term “elastic”. EC2 provides users with control over the geographical location of instances that allows for latency optimization and high levels of redundancy.

Amazon EC2Image: Amazon

AWS Global Infrastructure

AWS placed its data centers across 42 availability zones within 16 regions around the world: US West (Oregon, Northern California), AWS GovCloud, US East (Northern Virginia, Ohio), Canada (Central), South America (Sao Paulo), Europe (Ireland, Frankfurt, London), Asia Pacific (Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul, Mumbai) and China (Beijing). Each availability zone has at least one data center that has redundant power for stability, networking and connectivity.

AWS regionsImage: Amazon

Throughout the next year, the AWS Global Infrastructure will expand with at least five new Availability Zones in new geographic Regions: Ningxia in China and Paris in France.

Run any application

If you need to run any application, for example a WordPress website or control and manage server or cluster level functions such as scaling and deployment, well then AWS EC2 is the best! It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

  • You provision, scale, and manage server capacity. EC2 offers a wide selection of instance configurations optimized for every use case
  • You control the server, OS, and deployment software
  • You have flexible payment options to meet your business needs, including enabling BYOL

Benefits

    • Inexpensive

Amazon EC2 passes on to you the financial benefits of Amazon’s scale. You pay a very low rate for the compute capacity you actually consume. See Amazon EC2 Instance Purchasing Options for a more detailed description.

  • Elastic Web-Scale Computing

    Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously. Of course, because this is all controlled with web service APIs, your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs.

  • Designed for use with other Amazon Web Services

    Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Domain Name System (Amazon Route 53), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon SimpleDB and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) to provide a complete solution for computing, query processing and storage across a wide range of applications.

    Tip: Should you decide to make the move to the cloud with the Amazon Route 53 service, we recommend that you use the Plesk Onyx extension for automated provisioning of DNS zones to Amazon Web Services.

  • Reliable

    Amazon EC2 offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly and predictably commissioned. The service runs within Amazon’s proven network infrastructure and data centers. The Amazon EC2 Service Level Agreement commitment is 99.95% availability for each Amazon EC2 Region.

  • Secure

    Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon VPC to provide security and robust networking functionality for your computing resources.

Simplify Server Administration

  • Managing Infrastructure

    For all server needs – small businesses and IT Pros that want to host a few websites, web developers and designers that need to host dozens of websites, shared web hosters that can grow to serve millions of websites – Plesk Onyx on AWS is the ideal solution for simplifying server administration, while scaling to meet your specific needs.

  • Easy to Start

    Quickly get started with Amazon EC2 by visiting AWS Marketplace to choose preconfigured software on Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). You can quickly deploy this software to EC2 via 1-Click launch or with the EC2 console.

AWS MarketplaceImage: Amazon

What is Plesk Onyx?

Plesk Onyx is the new benchmark in control panels, and is the only tool you ever need to build, secure and run websites and applications in the Cloud!

Plesk Onyx allows server administrators to set up new websites, manage accounts and e-mail, and oversee DNS entries and other relevant networking data and specs through an intuitive web-based interface. It is an intuitive control panel that any customer can easily use. The latest version of Plesk Onyx supports multiple Windows and Linux distributions, for example Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, and many more – meaning you have even less to worry about if you have a customized network setup or if you are unsure about compatibility.

Gain time, gain freedom.

Our biggest release to date simplifies the lives of Web Professionals by fully integrating Docker and Git. Server related tasks and components are automated to run and scale web projects as well as providing one-click web server security. The ultimate answer for Web professionals who work with SMB’s (small to medium-sized businesses), we like to think of Plesk Onyx as a tool which empowers end users to easily deploy their web projects and get their MVP’s to market sooner.

What are the benefits/features?

  • Build: Plesk’s easy-to-use intuitive interface provides an environment for web professionals to code directly in. This allows developers and designers to focus on their business and develop web apps and sites that scale in the cloud.

  • Secure: It is not uncommon to have well-functioning websites that do not take security concerns into consideration. Such an approach can have huge negative consequences as your services continue to run and be exposed. An estimated 90% of web developers realize specific security concerns or loopholes in their application only after it is too late. Plesk will handle all security protocols and take necessary measures for you, automatically.

  • Run: Manage your WebOps: In the past, a team of tech specialists was needed to ensure that everything worked together throughout the running and deployment of any given web application. This meant that you had to have someone dedicated to ensuring that everything from the deployment, running, maintenance and security to the patching and repairing of your app or system, runs smoothly and successfully. However, with the progress of time, these tasks have become more and more automated, to the point where you do not need the same expensive technical resources you needed a few years ago.

Plesk Onyx 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 Featured ApplicationsImage: Plesk Onyx

Now that you’re familiar with AWS EC2 and Plesk you’re ready to take the next steps. There’s no better way of finding out about the powerful capabilities of AWS than by trying out the platform.

Getting started with Plesk Onyx and AWS EC2

 

1. Creating an AWS Account

To access any web service AWS offers, you must first create an AWS account. An AWS account is simply an Amazon.com account that is enabled to use AWS products. You can use an existing Amazon.com account login and password when creating the AWS account.

From your AWS account you can view your AWS account activity, view usage reports, and manage your AWS Security Credentials.

To set up a new account

1. Open https://aws.amazon.com/, and then choose Create a Free Account.

2. Follow the online instructions.

3. Part of the sign-up procedure involves receiving a phone call and entering a PIN using the phone keypad.

Note: You will not be charged unless your usage exceeds the free tier limits, which is great to explore the services and even host a real app without being charged.

 

2. Go to the AWS Marketplace

AWS Marketplace is a new way to find and buy software that runs in the AWS Cloud. In order to simplify installing on Amazon, Plesk provides a variety of AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) with the most popular configurations.

Plesk Onyx at AWS Marketplace Image: Amazon

Thus, no actual installation is required. In Amazon terminology, the user needs to launch the instance from the appropriate AMI. All available AMIs can be found at AWS Marketplace.

Note: In this How-to we use the ‘Bring Your Own License’ (BYOL) instance of Plesk Onyx CentOS 7 which allows you to use your own Plesk license. If you don’t have one yet, you can get a free trial license here.

Bring Your Own License

 

1. Click on Plesk Onyx ‘Bring Your Own License’ (CentOS 7), read the product description to make sure that it suits your needs.

2. Expand Region, and select the region you want from the list. The price is different for different regions.

3. Click the Continue button.

Plesk Onyx - Bring Your Own LicenseImage: Amazon

4. On the next site choose 1-Click Launch which uses predefined settings for Plesk Onyx.

5. Choose the configuration on the EC2 instance type. You will see the pricing information change under Pricing Details to match your selection. You can also review the Monthly Estimate in the right pane.

6. Create new Security Group based on seller settings. The Security Group created by AWS Marketplace based on recommended settings for Plesk ‘Bring Your Own License’ CentOS 7 version 17.0.17.

Plesk Onyx 'Bring Your Own License' (CentOS 7)Image: Amazon

7. Select the Key Pair to be used for connection to the instance (an existing Key Pair is required for connection to the Plesk instance). A Key Pair can be generated in the AWS Management Console.

8. Read the User End License Agreement (EULA) and AWS Customer Agreement and click Launch with 1-click button.

9. An instance of this software is now deploying on EC2. Software and AWS hourly usage fees apply when the instance is running and will appear on your monthly bill.

An instance of this software is now deploying on Amazon EC2Image: Amazon

10. Click on the AWS Management Console link in the right pane to get your instances list.

3. Connecting the instance via SSH

When Plesk is installed on an Amazon EC2 instance, the admin password is generated automatically. You need to obtain the generated password in order to access Plesk GUI for the first time.

Amazon EC2 - Connecting the instance via SSHImage: Amazon

1. Open up your favorite SSH client application and connect to the instance utilizing the public IP address assigned to the instance, that can be found in the right pane of the instances description.

2. User name: The remote user to log in as. The default admin user, or Superuser, is centos for Centos, ubuntu for Ubuntu.

Note: If you added a public SSH key to your instance when you created it, you must have the private SSH key of the key pair (and passphrase, if it has one).

3. Generate a one-time login for logging in to Plesk Onyx.

Run the following command:

 # sudo plesk login | grep -v ec2.internal

SSH into your instance

4. Copy the generated link into your browser.

4. Running the Installation/Configuration wizard

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

Plesk Onyx Installation WizardImage: 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 hostname (Public DNS).
  • Default IP Address: Select your IP address
  • New password: Change the default administrator password.

Plesk Onyx settingsImage: Plesk Onyx

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

4. After that comes the license key install page. You can order, retrieve and install a 14-day full-featured trial license from this page. Since you have already purchased a license key, proceed with installing the license key.

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 Image: Plesk Onyx

Thank you to the whole Amazon team for co-authoring this write-up and for providing feedback and technical insights on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Be well, do good, and stay Plesky!

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!

6 essentials on Docker containers

Docker containers

Docker is one of the most successful open source projects in recent history, it’s fundamentally shifting the way people think about building, shipping and running applications. If you’re in the tech industry then the chances you’re already aware of the project. We’re going to look at 6 key points about Docker.

According to Alex Ellis, Docker Captain, Containers are disruptive and are changing the way we build and partition our applications in the cloud. Gone are monolithic systems and in come microservices, auto-scaling and self-healing infrastructure. Forget heavy-weight SOAP interfaces – REST APIs are the new lingua franca.

Whether you are wondering how Docker fits into your stack or are already leading the way – here are 6 essential facts that you and your team need to know about containers.

1. Containers are not VMs

Containers and virtual machines have similar resource isolation and allocation benefits – but a different architectural approach allows containers to be more portable and efficient. The main difference between containers and VMs is in their architectural approach.

Difference between containers and VMs

Virtual machines

VMs include the application, the necessary binaries, libraries, and an entire guest operating system — all of which can amount to tens of GBs. VMs run on top of a physical machine using a Hypervisor.  The hypervisors themselves run on physical computers, referred to as the “host machine”. The host machine is what provides the VM with resources, including RAM and CPU. These resources are divided among VMs.  So if one VM is running a more resource heavy application, more resources would be allocated to that one than to the other VMs running on the same host machine.

The VM that is running on the host machine is also often called a “guest machine.”

This guest machine contains both the application and whatever it needs to run that application (e.g. system binaries, libraries). It also carries an entire virtualized hardware stack of its own, including virtualized network adapters, storage, and CPU — which means it in turn has its own full-fledged guest operating system. From the inside, the guest machine behaves as its own unit with its own dedicated resources. From the outside, we know that it’s a VM — sharing resources provided by the host machine.

Containers

For all intents and purposes, containers look like a VM. The *key* is that the underlying architecture is fundamentally different between the containers and virtual machines. The big difference between containers and VMs is that containers *share* the host system’s kernel with other containers. The image above shows that containers package up just the user space, and not the kernel or virtual hardware like a VM does.

Each container gets its own isolated user space to allow multiple containers to run on a single host machine. All the operating system level architecture is being shared across containers.

The only parts that are created from scratch are the bins and libs – this is what makes containers so lightweight and portable. Virtual machines are built in the opposite direction. They start with a full operating system and, depending on the application, developers may or may not be able to strip out unwanted components.

  • Basically containers provide same functionality which provides by VMs, with out any hypervisor overhead
  • Containers are more light weight than VMs, since it shares kernel with host without hardware emulation (hypervisor)
  • Docker is not a virtualization technology, it’s an application delivery technology.
  • A container is “just” a process – literally a container is not “a thing”.
  • Containers use kernel features such as kernel namespaces, and control groups (cgroups)
  • Kernel namespaces provide basic isolation and CGroups use for resource allocation

Namespaces

  • Kernel namespaces provide basic isolation
  • It guarantee that each container cannot see or affect other containers
  • For an example, with namespaces you can have multiple processes with same PID in different environments (containers)
  • There are six types of namespaces available
  1. pid (processes)
  2. net (network interfaces, routing…)
  3. ipc (System V IPC)
  4. mnt (mount points, filesystems)
  5. uts (hostname)
  6. user (UIDs)

CGroups

  • CGroups(Control Groups) allocate resources and apply limits to the resources a process can take (memory, CPU, disk I/O)
    between containers
  • It ensure that each container gets its fair share of memory, CPU, disk I/O(resources),
  • Also It guarantee that single container not over consuming the resources

2. A Container (Process) can start up in one-twentieth of a second

Containers can be created much faster than virtual machines because VMs must retrieve 10-20 GBs of an operating system from storage. The workload in the container uses the host server’s operating system kernel, avoiding that step. According to Miles Ward, Google Cloud Platform’s Global Head of Solutions, a container (process) can start up in ~1/20th of a second compared to a minute or so for a modern VM. When development teams adopt Docker –  they add a new layer of agility, and productivitiy to the software development lifecycle.

Docker catalog

Image: Plesk Onyx

Having that speed right in place allows a development team to get project code activated, to test code in different ways, or to launch additional e-commerce capacity on its website –  all very quickly.
3. Containers have proven themselves on a massive scale
The world’s most innovative companies are adopting microservices architectures, where loosely coupled together services from applications. For example, you might have your Mongo database running in one container and your Redis server in another while your Node.js app is in another. With Docker, it’s become much more easier to link these containers together to create your application, making it easy-to-scale or update components independently in the future.

According to InformationWeek, another example is Google. Google Search is the world’s biggest implementer of containers, which the company uses for internal operations. In running Google Search operations, it uses containers by themselves, launching about 7,000 containers every second, which amounts to about 2 billion every week. The significance of containerization is that it is creating a standard definition and corresponding reference runtime that industry players will need to be able to move containers between different clouds (Google, AWS, Azure, DigitalOcean,…) which will allow applications and containers to become the portability layer going forward.
Docker helped create a group called the Open Container Initiative formed June 22nd 2015. The group exists to provide a standard format for container images and a specification for container runtimes. This helps avoid vendor lock-in and means your applications will be portable between many different cloud providers and hosts.
4. Containers are “lightweight”

As mentioned before, containers running on a single machine share the same operating system kernel – they start instantly and use less RAM. Docker for example has made it much easier for anyone — developers, sysadmins, and others — to take advantage of containers in order to quickly build and test portable applications. It allows anyone to package an application on their laptop, which in turn can run unmodified on any public cloud, private cloud, or even bare metal – the mantra is: “build once, run anywhere.”

Container architecture
5. Docker has become synonymous with containers
Docker is rapidly changing the rules of the cloud and upending the cloud technology landscape. Smoothing the way for microservices, open source collaboration, and DevOps. Docker is changing both the application development lifecycle and cloud engineering practices.

Stats:

  • 2B+ Docker Image Downloads
  • 2000+ contributors
  • 40K+ GitHub stars
  • 200K+ Dockerized apps
  • 240 Meetups in 70 countries
  • 95K Meetup members

Every day, lot’s of developers are happily testing or building new Docker-based apps with Plesk Onyx  – understanding where the Docker fire is spreading is the key to staying competitive in an ever-changing world.

Web Professionals understood that containers would be much more useful and portable if there was one way of creating them and moving them around, instead of having a proliferation of container formatting engines. Docker, at the moment, is that de facto standard.

They’re just like shipping containers, as Docker’s CEO Ben Golub likes to say. Every trucking firm, railroad, and marine shipyard knows how to pick up and move the standard shipping container. Docker containers are welcome the same way in a wide variety of computing environments.
6. Docker’s ambassadors: the Captains
Have you met the Docker Captains yet? There’s over 67 of them right now and they are spread all over the world. Captains are Docker ambassadors (not Docker employees) and their genuine *love* of all things Docker has a huge impact on the community.

That can be blogging, writing books, speaking, running workshops, creating tutorials and classes, offering support in forums, or organizing and contributing to local events.

Here, you find out on how you can follow all the Captains without having to navigate through over 67 web pages.

The Docker Community offers you the Docker basics, and lots of different ways to engage with other Docker enthusiasts who share a passion for virtual containers, microservices and distributed applications.

Got a cool Docker hack? Looking to organize, host or sponsor Docker meetups? Want to share your Docker story?

Get involved with the Docker Community here.
Docker basics

7. Alex Ellis – Docker Captain

I became a Docker Captain after being nominated by a Docker Inc. employee who had seen some of my training materials and activity in the community helping local developers in Peterborough to understand containers and how they fit into this shifting landscape of technology. The engergy and enthusiasm of Docker’s team was what lead me to start this journey on the Captains’programme.

It’s all about raising up new leaders in the community to advocate the benefits of containers for software engineering. We also write and speak about exciting new features in the Docker eco-system and  presence ourselves in conferences, meet-up groups and in the marketplace. Start my self-paced, Hands-On Docker tutorial here. If you have questions, or want to talk I’m on Twitter.

Thank you to Docker Captain Alex Ellis for co-authoring the introduction to this write-up and for providing feedback and technical insights on containers.

Be well, do good, and stay Plesky!

Cheers,
Jörg

Sources: Docker.com, Alex Ellis, Google Cloud Platform BlogInformationWeek, Freecodecamp

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