When it comes to hosting, there are predominately two choices to manage your account or server; Plesk and cPanel. Dan Griffiths wants to shake things up by adding a third choice with HostPress. HostPress is an open-source, extensible server control panel built on top of WordPress.
Griffiths has started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to generate $175k. The money will be used to cover personal expenses, take care of his son, and cover the server fees and salary of an experienced server administrator for one year. cPanel and Plesk have several shortcomings, including:
- Minimum requirements
- Ease of branding
HostPress will have a smaller footprint on servers and customers will be able to brand it with just a few lines of code. By using WordPress, the platform taps into existing development resources which will help it stay on top of security issues.
Server managers will be able to extend the platform through an API as well as plugins. HostPress will have a robust set of plugins available to the public, covering the most popular server software at the time of launch.
According to BuiltWith, there are more than 4.1 million individual servers running active, licensed cPanel and Plesk installations. Base on this number, Griffiths calculates more than $82M is spent on control panels assuming a $20 per month price tag. Dedicated servers using cPanel, however, cost $45 per month.
The funds generated through the campaign will go to Griffiths, even if it’s not fully funded. However, if the project is fully funded, he expects to ship a beta of the product in June of 2016. He also plans to release the following:
- A modern, open-source, extensible server control panel
- An intuitive (and responsive) interface
- A fully-localized platform (HostPress speaks your language!)
- A platform developers can build on, including the ability to simply rebrand the panel without complex template languages.
If the project doesn’t reach its funding goal, development will continue but at a slower pace. “The goal is to provide the Internet with an alternative to the clutter and complexity of server management. Even if we don’t become a major contender in this space, the support we do get will put pressure on the existing solutions to up their game,” Griffiths said.
When asked how much demand he’s witnessed in the hosting space, he replied, “There’s constant demand for fresh blood in the control panel space. Just take a look at a few of the cPanel/Plesk discussions online and you’ll see a lot of people complaining about their various flaws, or looking for a good alternative. In fact, there have been a number of other attempts made over the years, but none have gained traction due to one fatal flaw. They’re all written by engineers, so while the underlying functionality is solid, the interface always sucks.”
If there is high demand from webhosts and server managers for a solution that’s better than Plesk or cPanel, Griffiths should have no problem reaching his funding goal. To find out what major webhosting companies think of the campaign and if they’ll financially contribute, I contacted GoDaddy and InMotion hosting. Both companies did not respond to my inquiries, despite multiple efforts to contact them.
Largest WordPress Crowdfunding Campaign on Record
Griffiths isn’t a stranger to the WordPress community’s generosity. Near the end of 2014, he started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $2,500. He ended up with nearly three times that amount. In this case however, it’s a product and $175k is a lot of money. If successful, it will be the largest WordPress crowdfunding campaign on record, dwarfing John James Jacoby’s campaign by $125k.
HostPress looks like it could be an interesting product but without the financial aid of companies with large pockets, I don’t see how the campaign will reach its funding goal. Let us know your reactions to the campaign in the comments.