CentOS Project Announces Early End-of-Life Date for CentOS 8

CentOS 8 Announces Early End-of-Life Date - Plesk

We recently found out that the CentOS Project accelerated the End-of-Life date for CentOS 8, meaning that no further operating system updates will be available after December 31, 2021. In the meantime, though, Plesk will continue supporting both CentOS 7 and 8 and CloudLinux 7 and 8 until their planned end of life dates.

CentOS also announced other critical changes to its roadmap that have an impact on the Plesk products and our users and partners:

  • CentOS 8 will be transformed to an upstream (development) branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux called CentOS Stream, where previous CentOS versions are part of the stable branch.
  • Although CentOS 7 life cycle remains unchanged, updates and security patches will be available until June 30, 2024. The life cycle timing is subject to change.

For additional information on the CentOS Project changes, you can also read their detailed blog post or refer to the CentOS FAQ page.

Plesk Support for CentOS 8

Plesk Support for CentOS 8 - CentOS 8 Announces Early End-of-Life Date - Plesk

If you’re wondering how CentOS 8 End-of-Life policy could affect your Plesk, here are some workarounds that you may want to hear. The good news is that Plesk has already been investing in product support for Ubuntu for decades, and will continue to support CentOS 8. 

Plesk Obsidian supports Ubuntu 20.04 LTS starting from Plesk Obsidian 18.0.29, and Plesk Onyx 17.8, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Nonetheless, if you’re a Plesk Onyx user, note that from April 22, 2021, it will no longer be available for new purchases and will stop receiving further development and technical support requests. Please read this article to learn how to upgrade to the latest Plesk Obsidian and how to automate renewals to keep your Plesk updated at all times.

When to Transition and Other Alternatives

CentOS 7 is the most popular choice of Plesk users. Therefore, it will be officially supported by RHEL until June 30, 2024, and will be supported by Plesk to that date. CentOS 7 remains a good choice for a new server.

We will consider supporting CentOS Stream as an alternative to CentOS 8 based on actual industry flow. So, people who will make a decision to follow the official RHEL distro will have CentOS Stream as an option. RHEL states that switching from CentOS 8 to CentOS Stream will be in-place and smooth. 

Additionally, we also plan to deliver AlmaLinux OS support for Plesk in summer 2021. AlmaLinux OS is a free new RHEL fork from the CloudLinux team, and it’s been developed in close co-operation with the community. 

Another good thing is that Plesk will also keep supporting CloudLinux OS 8. This additional supported operating system provides an upgrade path for customers with CloudLinux 6 or 7 deployments. CloudLinux is another commercially supported operating system that many of our partners benefit from. CloudLinux includes many advanced features such as improved user resource limitations, increased user visibility, and advanced customer isolation.

If you need additional information about this topic, please reach out to our support team. They will be happy to support you. And if you want to share your thoughts with us, drop us a line in the comment section below. 

How Formerly Skeptical IP-Projects Turned Direct Plesk Partner

How IP-Projects Turned Direct Plesk Partner

What makes our customers and partners tick? We asked Michael Schinzel, Managing Director at IP-Projects and long-term Plesk partner about what made them choose us. Seems it was a shift of perception, proper support when in need, and open discussions about prices. 

Who are IP-Projects?

The hosting company IP-Projects focuses on personalized direct customer support and its mantra is to solve the needs of its customers. And these very customers asked specifically for Plesk. Why? Because they prefer a user interface that allows them to create and manage domains within seconds – within a single platform.

Watch Michael Schinzel tell the full story of how the “rather small or medium-sized” IP-Projects powered up with Plesk. 

So, based on a pure cost /benefit analysis, Michael says IP-Projects opened up to Plesk. But it was not an instant decision.

Initial Reservations of Plesk and Change of Perception

The start was not very optimistic, as IP-Projects was rather reserved towards using Plesk. The perception was that it was a rather confusing and complicated management panel, some time back in 2011. Therefore, Michael recalls, “until the time when our former license partner had ceased to cooperate with Plesk, we did not deal with your company intensively.”

Michael Schinzel from IP-Projects

IP-Projects go from fear to finding something special in Plesk.  

“In our experience, there is no other hosting control panel with such a diverse offer.”

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“Only in 2014 did we become a direct Plesk partner. From that point on, Plesk established itself as a real alternative to the free dashboard we were using.” 

Finding Solutions to Critical Issues

Plesk is an added layer over IP-Projects’ server infrastructure. Their numerous enhancements such as the SEO Tools, WordPress Toolkit and Joomla! Toolkit, are also valuable add-ons for IP-Projects customers. They discovered it to be a great choice due to our management interface. But one of the strongest arguments for using Plesk is the technical support offered free of charge for direct customers.

“[Plesk Support] created several service tickets for a range of issues. And some were not even 100% coming from the Plesk hosting panel. We always received excellent support from the customer care teams. Without any additional costs. This is how we discovered that Plesk has become a reliable partner in the recent years”

Michael Schinzel

Good Value for Money

When it comes to Plesk pricing levels, Michael Schinzel believes that startups should benefit from a pricing tier dedicated to this category.

Good value for money - Plesk Panel

“This way they would be able to offer new providers good conditions to buy Plesk licenses. For example, a special discount for 1-2 years for direct partners.” 

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With such a settling offer in their pockets, companies on the same range as IP-Projects could build a customer portfolio faster. And once secured, they can scale up by choosing from Plesk’s solutions portfolio. Nonetheless, IP-Projects moved smoothly past this specific initial challenge. And Plesk played a key role in this regard.

How? Plesk is always open to discuss license prices and other possibilities of cooperation with customers. IP-Projects listened to its customers, as does Plesk. They both met halfway. However, being open to price negotiation is not all.

Plesk support for direct partners is the other top differentiator. Faster and leaner operations for direct partners generate happier customers – And this provides great value for money.

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How to become a Plesk Support Engineer

So, you applied to become a Plesk Support Engineer and after a series of interviews and negotiations, you signed the contract. Congrats! You’ve just become a part of an effective and successful team. You’ll spend the first five weeks going through an intensive technical onboarding process full of lessons, hands-on exercises, and tests. Plesk University and the team behind it will be helping you along the way.

First steps to becoming a Plesk Support Engineer

Technical Knowledge - Plesk support engineer

First, we need to make sure, that you are familiar with all the basic OS and networking technologies at the Plesk’s core. For that end, we have two basic OS courses: one for Linux, and one for Windows.

Each course starts with a comprehensive test of your initial knowledge. This helps us identify knowledge gaps, tailor the course’s content to address them, and exclude topics with which you are already familiar, thus shortening education time.

Basic OS Courses

Plesk OS basic course

Basic OS courses consist of video, text and external resources that cover all manner of topics:

  • Command-line basics.
  • Linux package management.
  • Services and processes.
  • Networking fundamentals.
  • User and group management.
  • Installing and monitoring Windows services.
  • NTFS permissions.
  • …and many more.

We always recommend taking notes while studying – you will need them to complete small lab exercise after each topic. Practice is essential to learning and retaining the knowledge.

Advanced topics, such as MySQL, Apache/nginx/IIS, Firewall, and DNS, have complex lab exercises. For example, in the Apache exercise, your task is to install the web server, configure two name-based virtual hosts, and enable PHP on one of them. If you feel up to it, you can also complete bonus tasks: configure mod_rewrite rules and add a domain alias.

Completing these lab exercises will require your best efforts. You’ll need to use your notes, search through documentation, and look through available solutions on services like StackExchange and ServerFault. Then, find a way to achieve the required results.

StackOverflow Copy-Pasting by O'Reilly

Knowledge Assessment

Knowledge assessment test

Once we cover all topics, you’ll pass the post-training knowledge assessment. This is the same test you passed at the beginning of the course. It helps us measure the improvement of your skills and determine any possible knowledge gaps left after the training.

We need a +80% grade to consider the training a success. If the grade is lower, we’ll figure out the topics you’re struggling with together. Then, give you extra materials to study, before you can re-take the test.

Completing Basic OS courses takes around two weeks. After that, it is time to start learning about Plesk. For that, we use our official Plesk courses, which are also available to the public.

Plesk Onyx Courses – For Support Engineers too

Plesk Onyx Professional

In Plesk Onyx Professional, you’ll learn how to install, configure, and use Plesk. After each module, you’ll need to complete objectives on a test server. Install Plesk on Linux and Windows servers, configure security settings according to best practices, set up a service plan and create a customer account, and configure backup to a cloud storage or a FTP server.

At the end of this course, you should pass the Plesk Onyx Professional Certification exam. All Plesk Support engineers are required to earn a Professional certification before they start working on customers’ requests. Later, within first three months of your career, you also need to pass both Plesk Onyx Expert exams.

Then, in Plesk Onyx Expert courses (for Linux and for Windows), you will learn how to upgrade, maintain and troubleshoot a Plesk server. Each module in an Expert-level course has a troubleshooting lab exercise. Here your task is to troubleshoot and fix a problem after you run a “troublemaker” script on your server. The same script will help you determine if you succeeded or not.

After the Expert courses, you’ll learn about and try your hand at Migrating to Plesk Onyx. Further down the line you’ll get familiar with our top extensions: WordPress Toolkit, SEO Toolkit, Git, and Docker. As with all the previous courses in this education program, you are required to apply your newly acquired knowledge on practice. All of these are available at Plesk University.

Next stop: Graduation as Plesk Support Engineer

Plesk support engineers graduation

At this point, the technical part of your initial education is over. But before you graduate, you need to learn a bit more on how to be a support engineer. We’ll impart on you the best practices developed over the years. How to communicate effectively, handle conflict situations, safely process customers’ data, and be responsible in your work. You’ll also learn about our tools and processes.

And, finally, the day of your graduation has come! You have learned a lot about Plesk and you’re finally ready to start helping our customers. Your education will continue, fueled by new courses from Plesk University, materials from our knowledge base, collaboration with mentors, your colleagues, and Plesk developers. But that’s a story for another time.