Docker web hosting – Thinking beyond cPanel and Plesk

The vast majority of web hosting customers are small businesses such as cake shops, accounting firms, etc. These are customers who are very savvy in their trade, and usually look for an easy way to establish an online presence.

Small time business owners primarily want two things:

  • An interface to add content to their website.
  • An interface to send/receive mails.

But to get that, small business owners often need to learn complex concepts like MX records, SSL renewal, Cron jobs, and more. For a non-tech person, it could be very confusing.

Control panels such as cPanel and Plesk have tried to make web hosting simpler for small business owners, but learning the ropes is still an uphill task for many. That’s where application hosting makes a difference.

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The shift away from traditional web hosting

In the past few years, there has been an increasing interest in specialized application hosting such as WordPress hosting.

WordPress hosting is popular

WordPress hosting trend in Google Trends

The rise in demand for specialized hosting is driven by the need for simplicity.

For eg. when a business owner signs up for WordPress hosting, they only need to learn about adding content via the WordPress interface – not the whole curriculum of server management fundamentals. Everything else, like SSL, DNS, etc. are taken care of by the web host.

Such an approach has given rise to large providers like WPEngine. So, the writing on the wall is clear. The future of web hosting is managed application hosting, and it is time to think beyond traditional web hosting solutions.

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Why and how to get into application hosting

Here are the top 4 advantages of moving into managed application hosting:

1. Achieve early mover advantage

Every web host competes in their niche market such as “Business web host in Bay Area, SF”. It’s a limited market, and when small business owners within that niche starts hearing about application hosting, it’d be great if your name features as the first one.

Early movers often get the most publicity, and set the market trend. Others are just going to play catch-up.

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Bobcares helps web hosts maintain their server infrastructure, and expand to new markets. When transitioning to a new technology, our advice to customers is to start small, but to keep the systems ready to scale up fast.

For eg., when setting up a specialized WordPress hosting system, we usually recommend setting up a VPS to run WordPress containers using Docker or LXC. This provides a low barrier entry point, that minimizes investment, but, if setup right, provides a base for seamless expansion when the orders start coming in.

To compete with the big cloud based managed service providers, you need a system that’s equally capable. We’ve found that open source technologies such as oVirt, LXC and Docker can be used to build better platforms than paid virtualization solutions, while being cost efficient.


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3 Comments

  1. Great Article. Congrats 🙂

    I have one question, how it is different than using CentOS, cPanel and Cloudlinux. With CloudLinux, we can isolate the accounts, SSL support is there with cPanel including other things. Any comments please?

    Reply
  2. How many sites can you load into one server? I’ve experienced that when you’re running 100+ containers you’ll end up with trouble. examples are docker dies, DNS resolution is messed up, docker hands out 1 internal ip addresse to 2 containers, it’s a super unstable system.

    Ideas?

    Reply
    • The number of sites depend entirely on the process RAM size and the traffic – not to mention the resources available in a server.

      For eg. one of the servers we manage has 8 cores and 32 GB memory. It has around 85 blog/news sites as containers, and receives up to 2000 simultaneous connections. It has never faced any resource shortage issues, considering each site is quite loaded with plugins and visual tweaks.

      What is the issue with DNS resolution? Is it the resolution or routing that’s the issue? Did you consider using a gateway Nginx to send requests upstream?

      Reply

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