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!

Can ZNetLive and Plesk help MSPs generate new revenue streams?

More revenue for managed service providers

Today’s technological evolution means complete digitalization and hence, different complexities in IT infrastructure and systems. These complexities are hard for start-ups and SMBs to manage with a shoestring budget, insufficient IT expertise and security risks. The solution is a new business model – a managed IT and infrastructure service.

What can you do as a Managed Service Provider?

They provide an effective method for customers to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements, better their business processes and cut costs at the same time. The rate at which managed service demand is increasing proves that this model is here to stay for years to come.

MarketsandMarkets forecasts the managed services market to grow to $257.84 billion by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.1%. The SMEs segment for managed services is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are third-party service providers whose core job is managing offerings. Services ranging from network, infrastructure, applications, security, communications, information and more. The MSP market is made of cloud service providers, hosting companies, application service providers (ASPs) and network service providers (NSPs). All of them bundle their legacy offerings with management services.

Challenges that MSPs need to address

With the hosting industry rapidly scaling to the cloud, came a revolutionary shift in demands of web professionals and developers.

  1. Now users require service provider support for various advanced software, like Docker and Github. And a framework-ready environment for Ruby on rails, Node.js, Python, PHP and more. Moreover, they need complete visibility into their services. Not to mention easy access from an integrated platform. Without all this, they’ll go to the infrastructure providers for everything, leading to reduced productivity for both.
  2. The MSPs have to find new ways to provide advanced customized solutions that fulfill their end customers’ expectations and requirements and multi-server management. The absence of a unified platform and environment for all languages consumes a lot of time.
  3. There’s a missing connection between the original infrastructure service provider and the end customers of the MSPs.

Empowering service providers and simplifying web professionals’ lives

What about ZNetLive with Plesk Onyx?

Being a leading name among long-serving IT services providers, ZNetLive understands the issues that service providers and their end customers face. Hence, ZNetLive solutions have been specially designed with Plesk. So service providers can cater to SMBs’ and web professionals’ evolving needs, while Plesk Onyx addresses all the above-mentioned challenges.

ZNetLive and Plesk-powered services include dedicated servers, Cloud VPS, shared hosting, WordPress hosting. And managed services like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM Cloud.

Benefits of ZNetLive and Plesk Onyx

ZNetLive have recently become the authorized distributor of Plesk in India. Providing a full range of Plesk solutions for developers, digital agencies, IT admins, content mangers, web hosters, and hyperscalers at a very competitive pricing. They focus on cost-effective solutions, especially handy for those with budget constraints.

With the home-grown automation tool (RackNap), ZNetLive delivers customers these Plesk solutions in an efficient, automated manner.

  • ZNetLive-Plesk offerings allow you to focus on a wider target audience. Hence allowing you as a service provider to earn more from your existing offerings. Also, Plesk helps scale the server offerings and extend the amount of instance sales for resellers and customers renting servers.
  • With an ever-developing Plesk ecosystem of third parties, added components and various editions, ZNetLive solutions provide service providers the best in the market for up-selling and cross-selling customers with a high-price per server.

“I am greatly impressed with the dedicated server powered by Plesk that I purchased from ZNetLive. Plesk helps us with centralized management to automate multiple client websites effortlessly. Easily distribute web spaces and subscriptions across multiple servers with centralized management and Intelligent Server Maintenance. My clients are basically SMBs and web professionals - the geeky ones. Now they can work with any OS, database or programming language. My business is soaring - thanks guys!”

Nitin Gajjar, CTO, Jeet Info India Pvt Ltd.

With Plesk Extensions, web professionals can design, develop and better manage websites and apps. Meanwhile, ZNetLive offerings empower service providers to grow at a fast pace with all business facets covered. Whether it’s support, data security, migration or backup services. Offering visibility of all services and products from one place.

Plesk-powered services: The way forward for MSPs

For any managed service provider to be successful, it’s essential to have the right bridge between the infrastructure provider and its end customers. Plesk Onyx is that control panel solution which connects everything effectively. And its most important feature? The ability to continuously evolve and adapt according to the dynamics of the industry.

Migrate to Plesk on AWS from Plesk, cPanel or DirectAdmin

Why migrate to Plesk on AWS?

Amazon Web Services is the cloud computing platform by Amazon.com, offering over 90 key infrastructure services such as computing power, storage options, networking, and databases, delivered as on-demand resources with pay-as-you-go pricing.

As part of the hyperscale cloud revolution, increasing numbers of web professionals are now running their instances on AWS, and many Plesk hosting partners have chosen AWS to run their managed-services business. Running your instances, hosting or managed business with Plesk on AWS provides many significant benefits over the traditional hosting infrastructure:

  • Scales better than traditional shared or VPS hosting: Plesk on AWS is based on AWS’ latest innovations and integrates smoothly with the Route53 service of AWS. Support for new AWS services are constantly being added as Plesk Extensions to take advantage of the automation and customization features of the Plesk platform. Pass on the value to your website and app customers by including AWS services to their portfolio.
  • Improved innovation: Deploy from websites and apps anywhere to everywhere. Tune, secure and optimize images that can be scaled horizontally (for high traffic sites) with ease-of-use through AWS.
  • Improved infrastructure: Quick and cost-effective spin up of dedicated multi-server environments.
  • Increased security: Intelligent Security Advisor, free SSL with Let’s Encrypt, Fail2ban, configurable firewall, ServerShield by CloudFlare, Security Core w/ ModSecurity by Atomicorp, Patchman (Patches Vulnerabilities in CMS), Datagrid reliability & vulnerability scanner, and much more
  • Proven workflow: Deploy a Domain, DNS, SSL and simple PHP application in just a few minutes…or a multi-services multi-stack application in as much time. Improved CMS (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!) and eCommerce (WooCommerce, Prestashop, others,..) workflows to ensure better development velocity.
  • Increased productivity: Move from a release cycle every quarter to deploying changes on a minute-by-minute basis
  • Increased agility: Fully integrated deployment capabilities to deploy code more frequently
  • Global AWS Infrastructure: Plesk instances through the AWS marketplace are immediately available on any of Amazon’s many data center locations.

To learn more about Plesk on AWS, as well as our plug-and-play Plesk WordPress Server Solution and Plesk Business Server Solution, go to our Plesk on AWS page.

Let’s start the migration to AWS

Here’s what we’ll cover in this tutorial:

  1. Prepare your Plesk (or cPanel/DirectAdmin) source server
  2. Install Plesk on AWS as a target server + configure public IP
  3. Install Plesk Route53 Extension on Plesk on AWS + configure the extension.
  4. Install Plesk Migrator Extension on Plesk on AWS
  5. Migrate all the data (Plesk to Plesk), domains will be created in route53 also on this step.
  6. Use the Plesk feature “Switch DNS” – so that the source server stays a Slave until all domains are switched on the Route53 side (actually on the domain registrar’s), website stay functional during the switching time of 24-48 hours that Route53 needs for DNS sync.
  7. After that, you need to contact your registrar to delegate your domains to Route53 DNS.

1. Preparing your existing Plesk or cPanel/DirectAdmin server (source)

Note: there are some limitations in case you plan from Linux to a Windows Server and vice versa! In general, we recommend only to migrate from Linux to Linux or Windows to Windows.

To ensure that the migration is successful, a number of TCP and UDP ports need to be opened on the source and destination servers.

Plesk offers a nice Firewall component that needs to be installed in case you don’t want to do this over command line. If you can’t find the firewall in Tools & Settings -> Firewall, then you need to install the component first (click here). Then you can access it over Tools & Settings -> Firewall. More details on the firewall for Linux here and Windows here.

For Unix servers, open the following ports (In case you are migrating form Plesk using the Plesk Firewall Extension, these ports are all configured correctly for you by default!):

  • TCP port 22 for SSH connections on source server.
  • TCP port 8443 for access to Plesk XML API on the target server and on the source servers, if migrating from Plesk.
  • TCP ports 110, 143 for POP3 and IMAP, on the source and target server. These are used for post-migration checks.

For Windows servers, open the following ports:

  • TCP ports 135, 139, 445 and UDP ports 137, 138. Be sure to open these ports on the source and on the target server.
  • TCP port 1433 for MS SQL, if it is used as the default instance.
  • UDP port 1434 and all (or manually selected) TCP ports for MS SQL, if it is used as a named instance.
  • TCP port 10155 for a custom Plesk Migrator service performing miscellaneous tasks.
  • TCP port 10156 for rsync server.
  • TCP port 8443 for access to Plesk XML API on the target server and on the source servers, if migrating from Plesk.
  • TCP ports 110, 143 for POP3 and IMAP, on source and target servers. These are used for post-migration checks.

Also, make sure that https://installer.plesk.com is accessible from the destination server.

We recommend that you install and configure all the necessary services and settings on the destination server before performing the transfer. For example, if you plan on migrating MySQL databases, make sure that the MySQL server is installed and running on the destination server, and so forth.

Make sure that Plesk on the destination server has a separate license. Otherwise, you may experience problems with the license validation during migration. The possible ways of obtaining a license are described in the Administrator Guide.

2. Preparing your AWS Plesk instance (target server)

Follow this guide to set up Plesk on AWS. Note: be absolutely sure that your AWS instance is configured running with a public IP address as described in the installation tutorial, otherwise you might have issues with the DNS parts later. 

Plesk OnyxImage: Plesk Onyx

3. Installing the Plesk Migrator Extension

To install Plesk Migrator using the Plesk interface

  1. Log in as administrator to Plesk on the target server.
  2. Go to Extensions -> Server Tools -> Plesk Migrator 
  3. Select Install on the Plesk Migrator detail page.

4. Installing the AWS Route53 Extension inside Plesk

In case you plan to use the DNS features of Plesk (what is highly recommended!), you need to make sure that you have the Route53 Extension installed.

  1. Log in as administrator to Plesk on the target server.
  2. Go to Extensions -> DNS -> Amazon Route 53
  3. Select Install on the Amazon Route53 detail page.

Just for reference – here the guide for Route53 from AWS: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/Route53/latest/DeveloperGuide/MigratingDNS.html

5. Initiating the migration on your AWS Plesk instance (target server)

  1. Log in to Plesk on the destination server as the Plesk administrator.
  2. Go to Server Management > Extensions > Plesk Migrator > Start a New Migration. If Plesk Migrator is unavailable, install it following the instructions here.
  1. Select the hosting panel installed on the source server from the Panel type menu.
  2. Specify the following:
    • The source server’s IP address. If migrating from a Linux server, specify the SSH port as well (22 by default).
    • (Plesk for Linux) The login and password of a root user on the source server. Alternatively, you can choose to authenticate via SSH keys. For details, refer to Authentication by SSH (Linux).
    • (Plesk for Windows) The login and password of the built-in administrator accounts on both the source and the destination servers.
    • The directory for storing temporary files on the source server (make sure there is enough free disk space available to store the dump of the largest database that will be migrated).
  3. If migrating from a Windows-based server, specify the method for installing the RPC agent (an application enabling Plesk Migrator to gather data):
    • Automatic (recommended). Plesk Migrator will try to deploy and start RPC agent on the source server using the built-in administrator account. In some cases, automatic deployment may fail (for example, due to firewall settings, or because the File and Printer Sharing or RPC services are disabled). If this happens, deploy the agent manually.
    • Manual. A link to download the RPC agent package will be provided. Download the package and install the agent on the source server manually.
  4. Click Prepare Migration to proceed to the next step. Plesk Migrator will attempt to fetch the data about the different objects (domains, subscriptions, customer/reseller accounts, and hosting plans) found on the source server. If the connection fails, double-check the source server information, make sure that the connection is not blocked by firewall, and try again.

    Note that from this point onwards, you can leave the Migrator interface without losing your progress – the migration will remain in progress until you finish it explicitly. To continue from where you left off, click Server Management > Extensions > Plesk Migrator and then click the corresponding migration in the list.

  5. You now find yourself on the Add subscriptions tab.

  6. Here you must select the subscriptions to be migrated (note that you cannot migrate individual domains, the fewest number of objects you can migrate is a single subscription and all its domains). You can use one of the three available filters:

    • By Subscription. If you migrate a subscription owned by a customer or a reseller, the corresponding customer/reseller account will be migrated as well (unless a custom subscription owner is specified – see below). The hosting plan the subscription is based on will also be migrated.
    • By Customer/Reseller. If you migrate a customer or reseller account, all subscriptions owned by the account will be migrated together with the hosting plans they are based on. Note that migrating a reseller account does not automatically migrate the customer accounts owned by the reseller. If you select a reseller account and one or more customer accounts owned by that reseller for migration, the reseller’s ownership of the customer accounts will be preserved on the destination server.
    • By Hosting Plan. If you migrate a hosting plan, all subscriptions based on the said plan will be migrated as well. If you migrate a hosting plan belonging to a reseller, said reseller will be migrated as well, plus all subscriptions based on the selected hosting plan together with the customers who own those subscriptions.
  7. Select what types of content (mail content, web content, and databases) will be migrated.
  8. Select a custom subscription owner. By default, whenever a subscription owned by a customer or reseller is migrated, the corresponding customer or reseller account is created on the destination server as well. If you select a different subscription owner, the ownership of all subscriptions being migrated will be assigned to that account.
  9. To change the migration settings, click Settings in the upper-right corner.

  10. Here, the following controls are available:

    • Adjust application settings. By default, during migration Plesk attempts to make changes to the configuration files of a number of popular web applications to make them operable on the destination server. Clear the checkbox if you want to make the changes manually. Leaving this option enabled will increase the migration time.
    • Apache restart interval (Plesk for Linux only). Restarting the web server on the destination server is necessary for the migrated domains to become available over the network. Make sure not to set this value too low (less than 300 seconds is not recommended), as all hosted domains become temporarily unavailable every time the web server is restarted.
    • Run post-migration checks. By default, after the migration is finished, Plesk performs a number of automated tests to identify potential issues with the migrated domains. Clear the checkbox if you do not want the tests to be run. Leaving this option enabled will increase the migration time.
  11. When you are satisfied with the list of subscriptions to migrate and the migration options, click Migrate to proceed. Plesk will run pre-migration checks to detect potential issues and display a report.

  12. We advise you to fix the detected issues (if any) before continuing with the migration. Make the necessary configuration changes, then click Refresh to re-run the tests.

  13. When the pre-migration check returns a clean result, click Start migration to begin migrating. Once a migration is underway, you can monitor its progress on the Overview tab.
  14. As subscriptions are being migrated, status reports will be displayed for every subscription for which the migration was either completed successfully or failed.
    • The icon indicates that the migration was completed successfully.
    • The icon indicates that the migration was completed with errors. Click [Details] to see the list of issues that occurred during the migration.
    • The icon indicates that the migration failed. Click [Details] to see the list of issues that occurred during the migration.
  15. If you want to perform an additional sync of a subscription’s content after the migration is finished, click [Re-sync] next to the subscription’s name.
  16. If you want to migrate additional subscriptions from the source server, return to step number seven. Otherwise, unless you plan to migrate from the same source server again in the near future, you can click Finish migration to remove it from the list of ongoing migrations.

6. Going into production: switch DNS

  • Any DNS zones (domains) will be transferred to the configured Route53 correctly when using a public IP address on your Plesk server on AWS, without any manual interventions.
  • After the migration, AWS need some time to propagate new DNS records/domains inside their infrastructure.
  • IF on source server DNS was handled by Plesk, then the migrated domains continue to work on old DNS but points to new IP’s because of “switch DNS” feature described earlier.

7. Request at your domain registrar or registries to switch DNS to route53

After your changes to Amazon Route 53 resource record sets have propagated to Amazon Route 53 DNS servers (see Step 4: Check the Status of Your Changes (API Only)), update your registrar’s name server (NS) records to refer to the Amazon Route 53 name servers.

migration with no downtime – woohoo!

 

8. Additional tips

In case you are not ready to migrate your whole server yet, there is also an option to just migrate 1 site to a server with Plesk on AWS or one WordPress instance into Plesk’s all new WordPress Toolkit. For that, please refer to separate documentation available here.

 

Thanks to the whole AWS team for co-authoring this write-up and for providing feedback and technical insights to optimize this tutorial.

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!