Back to the Basics #12: Hosting Automation

Hosting Automation refers to software that makes web hosting as easy as clicking buttons on a graphical interface. For those who have worked with naked Linux or Unix servers, this is a dramatic contrast from the command line interface to which you may be accustomed. Most hosting automation comes in the form of a web-based control panel.

Control panels usually require a flat fee or subscription license per server, although some, such as Webmin and Virtualmin are free of charge and/or open source. One of the most popular non-free control panels is cPanel and its server administrative interface: WHM (WebHost Manager).

Hosting automation can simplify many tasks. For example, editing DNS zone files can be daunting and risky even for experienced system administrators. Using a control panel, they can edit the files more easily and also rely on the interface to warn them when they make mistakes. Moreover, it is much more convenient for end users who may not want to delve too deeply into the technical aspects web hosting. It is also more visually appealing than the alternative.

Most importantly, hosting automation can save time, particularly for tasks that may require several steps, such as multiple user management or the creation of cron jobs. Control panels can make life easier for system administrators and user alike.