With the “Cloud” rapidly becoming an integral part of the internet now, I am sure that most of us have at one point or the other used a cloud application. To make the hosting of software products in cloud easier, options are being explored to implement them in the SaaS model. Providing software products in the SaaS model is how the internet will be, in the future.
Software as a Service model is now playing a major role in defining the hosting industry too. The APS standard from Parallels is a perfect platform for delivering software in the SaaS model. As a web host, what will set you apart in today’s competitive hosting market is not the hardware or the bandwidth, but the applications you provide your customers.
I always advocate the benefits of integrating and automating existing systems. With APS in the picture, you can easily provide customers with applications and tools, through a single click. APS, or Application Package Standard, is simple and straight forward. It helps in delivering applications in the 'Software as a Service' model to your end customers. Most of the commonly used applications are already available for deployment at http://www.apsstandard.org/
It is easy to create your own package as well as provide paid software. There is a section called Marketplace in the Plesk control panel where all these packages can be made available. It is easy for the end customer to install new software and even more easier for the host to sell them, making it a win-win situation. It can be provisioned in any control panel. It is just that Parallels has already made it easy to deploy these applications in Plesk via Marketplace.
The APS was initially created for management and the deployment of web applications in a shared hosting environment. Now this standard is not just intended for shared hosting. An entire application life cycle can be managed using APS, including licensing. Parallels helps in the licensing and setup of these build packages, when provided via Marketplace. The advantage of this standard is that, you need to bundle the application into the packaging standard just once, after which, it can be sold anywhere, any time.
For example suppose your customer requires a shopping cart installation, let's say Magento. You provide an icon for the Magento software build using APS, in the control panel. The installation of Magento is then done by the end customer with just the click of a button from his control panel. For the end user it is as simple as that. For the vendor or the provider, it is all about writing the installation and configuration scripts as per the APS standard. It is very easy to create these scripts. For most of the commonly used web applications, you need to write just a single line of code, as most of them are already available at the central repository.
The advantage of using APS is that, it is possible to define whether the installation should be done in the same hosting server or on a cloud, in the configuration script. That would be a decision based on your business model. Either way, you have the flexibility of providing these provisioning options. Before the installation is done, like any package management software a list of pre-requisites will be checked. If a PHP application is being installed, the pre-requisites would be PHP version check, MySQL etc. Once the software is bundled into a package, the upgrade to the next version can be done seamlessly by creating patches using APS. Again, the upgrade is done by just a click.
As a start, you can provide customers applications that are already available in the catalog at http://www.apsstandard.org/. That is the central repository from which you can easily add applications to the control panel. You can later start offering custom packages too. I am sure this will boost customer retention to a great extent, by allowing you to provide more features to customers.
About the Author:
Tobby Davasia Kollemmalil has worked as a Lead Developer at Bobcares, before taking the role of Executive Team Member. He has worked in both the Technical, Development and the Training Division of Poornam. He has over 5 + years experience in the Web Hosting Industry. He is a regular speaker in conferences related to the Web Hosting industry.