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Plesk Licensing Model Excessive?

Discussion in 'Plesk Automation' started by XWSNZD, Jan 27, 2013.


    XWSNZD New Pleskian

    Jan 27, 2013
    Likes Received:
    PPA Licensing Model Excessive?

    We are looking at PPA (Parallels Plesk Automation) to manage our hosting environment. While the product appears to still be in its infancy in terms of functionality, will Parallels be changing its rather expensive licensing model?

    While the PPA licence seems unnecessary (with exception for Parallels to be able to monitor PPA instances) the addition of a "Dedicated Unlimited Domain License" across various nodes seems excessive. A Dedicated Plesk Panel license should give access to "All features of Plesk Panel except those explicitly listed in the add-ons sections". In PPA, from what we understand, is far from correct. An Apache node with an Unlimited Licence will not have the functionality of a mail server. For this we are required to purchase and apply another licence, again an Unlimited licence that "has all features of Plesk Panel", which it does not as it is only a mail node.

    On top of this, if I am correct, we are required to purchase another Unlimited Licence for the management node, again this licence giving "all features of Plesk Panel", which in this case it does, but only serving from the management node. If we were to follow PPA best practices, it is recommended for security that no web hosting from the Management server node take place, now making to this fully featured licence essentially worthless.

    To align with best practices as cheaply as possible and to actually get "as close as possible to full Plesk functionality" would require three servers, a Management Node, an Apache Node and a mail node. SQL and DNS services can be served from any three.

    $117USD per month just for licensing costs seems excessive to be able to automate a functional, best practice aligned Plesk Panel environment that still does not have all of the admin functionality of a dedicated single Panel solution and for a product that seems to be more in its Beta stages.

    This licence model virtually eliminates new small businesses from implementing this product in a cost effective manner in such a competitive market while attempting to make a profit.

    Assuming a new hosting business is using a VPS or hosted server from a 3rd party provider. While server costs and specs vary greatly, for discussion sake we will take an average and only focus on disk space.

    A 30GB VPS, 1GB ram costs $30USD. To implement the above PPA best practice aligned solution requires 3 servers at $30 each.
    These 3 servers require 3 Dedicated Plesk Licence at $39 each.

    Your new hosting business is now costing you $207 per month.

    A very basic hosting plan offering of 1GB Disk say at $10 per month, without over selling the server disk space would give you 30 accounts. After VPS and Parallels licensing costs gives you $97 profit.

    If you wanted to offer Plesk Antivirus & Spam protection would cost $29.99 and $15.99 respectively. Lowering your total profit to ~$51.

    You could change the hosting plan to 500MB for $10 which is far from competitive, get 60 clients and receive $397-351 per month for your effort. Not enough to retire on and 60 clients all using a CMS on a 1GB ram could be an issue. It is not until you increase disk space and RAM that this solution becomes profitable but if you use servers from 3rd parties data centres, disk space and RAM especially do not always come cheaply. For some of our clients this is certainly the case.

    I would like to encourage a discussion from other companies on how they view this licensing model, costs using PPA as a hosting solution, your view on repetitive licensing and in the case of PPA just to enable the use of open source software and how viable this solution is in such a competitive market from all points of view, small to medium business especially.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  2. ctalkington

    ctalkington New Pleskian

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I have to agree. I think they shoulddevelop a service node license that is a set fee ($10-$20?) with a special marker that is only allowed to be provisioned through a PPA master. This way the cost per node can be lower while reducing the chance of such licenses being abused.
  3. AdamBo

    AdamBo New Pleskian

    Jul 6, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Choose the right tool for the job

    Thank you for your post on Parallels forum. With the number of Plesk Automation deployments increasing I am now able to provide an answer to your questions based not only on product architecture but also on experiences from in-production deployments.

    From what I can see it is quite clear that value of Plesk Automation over a single Parallels Plesk Panel deployment increases with the scale of the system. This is consistent with the way Plesk Automation is architected. We wanted this product to be the platform for professional hosting and optimized it for hosters for whom hosting is a full time business.

    This means that if you are running a hosting business with 100 or less customers/domains Parallels Plesk Panel is the best solution in town. It is simpler that Plesk Automation and with 100 customers, scale and management is still not a problem. It still makes sense to run at this scale with Parallels Plesk Panel Unlimited dedicated license to qualify for free support but if money is short, you can find a discounted Parallels Plesk Panel 100 domain licenses with one of Parallels infrastructure partners.

    At even smaller scale of micro-hosting you will find an even lower cost solution with Parallels Plesk Panel 10 domain offered for free by many of our partners.

    Please Note: There are specialized hosting services scenarios, where security or customer requirements dictate isolation and multi-server architecture with low customer counts. If this is of interest to you I am happy to address it separately.

    Now the good news is that you do not need to start your hosting business on Plesk Automation to be able to move up to it later on. The transition from Plesk 11 to Plesk Automation is easy so when your business grows you can simply make the choice to move to the professional hosting platform.

    You should consider Parallels Plesk Automation for the first time at the 300-500 user level or when the number of VPSs and server you are managing starts to be (technical term) “a pain to manageâ€. Managing more than 4 servers without centralized Management Panel would give me a headache.

    Here you have a choice of managing a Plesk Automation on a series of VPSs or managing a dedicated server that you provision containers onto. My advice is, if you have the skills, you should go with the dedicated box and run Parallels Cloud Server virtualization on it.

    I suggest one quad core server with 32Gb RAM and 1Tb hardware RAID 10 storage like Dell PE620, Intel Xeon 2609 2.4 Ghz 4C x 2, 32Gb RDIMM RAM, 300Gb SAS 6Gbps x 8 (1.2Tb available storage), Perc H710 Hardware RAID 10 (Dell offers it for $171/month lease) and run 4 Parallels Cloud Server containers on it.

    I would run:
    • PPA Management node on container #1 and give it 4GB of RAM and 10GB of storage
    • Apache Web Server and MySQL server on container #2 and give it 4GB of RAM and 300GB of storage
    • Apache Web Server and MySQL server on container #3 and give it 4GB of RAM and 300GB of storage
    • Postfix mail server, Parallels Premium Antivirus, Secondary DNS, Webmail on container #4 and give it 4GB of RAM and 200GB of storage
    This system will scale to 600 Users at 1GB storage allocation but can handle 2x of easily depending on type of resource allocation method used and actual resource utilization.

    At this scale cost value calculation is very different from your calculation with licensing cost now being a much smaller fraction of the overall system cost.

    In fact in this configuration you would only pay (with no partnership discounts) $39 x 4 for Plesk licenses, + $70 for PCS (5CT) and + 6 for Parallels Premium Antivirus = $232 / month. You can lease this server from Dell for only $171/month and collocate it for less than $200/month or lease it directly from one of the infrastructure service providers. Thus your monthly cost would be around $600/month or around $1 per customer in this configuration.

    And of course you can mix in an IIS Web Server and MS SQL server node into the system and for that I would add a virtual machine with 8Gb RAM and Windows 2008 R2 using Parallels Cloud Server.

    From what I see in deployments of Plesk Automation next scale level comes from hosters running Plesk Automation on multiple physical servers and dedicated backup node.

    For example, let’s say you are running two production boxes with 32Gb RAM and 1Tb RAID 10 storage running Parallels Cloud Server (PCS) and one backup box with 8 Gb RAM and 1Tb RAID 10 storage and running Parallels Cloud Server.
    On the first box you can run
    • PPA Management node on container #1 and give it 8GB of RAM and 20GB of storage
    • Web server on container #2 and give it 4GB of RAM and 200GB of storage
    • Web server on container #3 and give it 4GB of RAM and 200GB of storage
    • MySQL on container #4 and give it 4GB of RAM and 200GB of storage
    • Primary DNS server #5 and give it 1GB of RAM and 20GB of storage
    On the second box
    • Secondary DNS server on container #1 and give it 1GB of RAM and 20GB of storage
    • Web server and MySQL Server on container #2 and give it 4GB of RAM and 200GB of storage
    • Web server on MS SQL Server container #3 and give it 8GB of RAM and 200GB of storage
    • SmarterMail Server on container #4 and give it 8GB of RAM and 200GB of storage
    A third backup server would be dedicated to the backup role.

    Again you can mix and match, extend with Windows hosting and sell to 2000+ users

    At full Plesk Automation scale, hosters usually go into fully dedicated server roles and scale up to 6+ physical servers with at minimum two 32 GB RAM and 1Tb RAID 10 storage servers dedicated to the web server role. At this scale you will be able to support thousands of users.

    Please let know if this answer was useful and if I can answer any additional questions.

    Kind regards,
    Adam Bogobowicz
    Sr. Director of Product Marketing for Service Providers at Parallels