Web hosting control panels provide graphical interfaces for both system administrators and virtual hosting users, allowing them to perform simple or even complex tasks with points and clicks rather than typing in commands. For some, the introduction of control panels, particularly for Unix and Linux servers, was a godsend. For others, however, it may just be another unnecessary expense.
The question today is: Do you really need a hosting control panel? The issue you should first consider is functionality. What functionality does a control panel add to your server? Will it make routine tasks easier? Will it save time? Will it make the server more appealing to customers?
The answers to these questions depend heavily on the purpose of your server. If you are offering hosting services to others, they will definitely expect you to provide some type of graphical interface for website management. If, on the other hand, your server has a single function, such as a separate host for your database server, you may have no need for any graphical management tools outside of something like phpMyAdmin, which is free.
Cost is the other factor worth considering. Most control panels require licensing, often on an annual basis. If you lease your server from a web host, they may include the control panel in your monthly subscription. If not, you might have to add the panel to your budget. There are, however, some free and open source control panels, such as Webmin. Therefore, cost should not be the only reason to avoid having one.
If you feel comfortable working from the command line and see no personal benefit for a control panel on your private server, you can save yourself some money. But if you think a control panel will make life easier for you and/or your clients, it is definitely worth the investment.