The news that cPanel has decided to move to a new pricing model, resulting in significant price hikes for most customers, has shocked the hosting world.

Most of the important hosting companies depend heavily on WHM/cPanel, especially for shared packages. The platform has become so popular that it is now considered a standard, and most users expect cPanel as part of their default services.

The hosting market is extremely competitive, so passing the extra cost to the end-users is not really an option. Unsurprisingly, WHM clients reacted with anger, and the company’s website was offline for hours due to continuous DDoS attacks.

While some providers are actively looking for alternatives, such as cheaper or open source control panels, others are trying to optimize their account structure in order to reduce costs based on the new pricing model.

In this article, we will discuss all the aspects of the new licensing model and well as the best options to cut costs in the future.

The old license structure

Before the change, WHM had a very simple pricing structure. There was a $20 per month license for virtual machines and a $45 per month one designed for dedicated servers, regardless of the number of accounts.

Both types were cheaper when purchased from partners and discounts were available for longer periods (such as yearly licenses).

Two special licenses were also available: the Solo License was aimed at servers with a single account and was priced at $15 per month, while the DNS only one was a version that could be installed for free, but DNS was the only active service (these were targeted at DNS clusters).

The initial changes

Without any warning, cPanel announced on June 27 that the entire pricing structure would be overhauled, reasoning that servers are increasingly powerful and can now host a very large number of accounts.

The new licenses were split into tiers, based on the type of server and the number of accounts. These are Admin ($20, maximum 5 accounts), Pro ($30, up to 30 accounts) and Premier ($45, max 100 accounts).

The Admin and Pro licenses are only available for virtual servers. On large machines with more than 100 accounts, these are bulk priced at $0.20, on top of the Premier license.

The second announcement

Faced with cancellations and a wave of negative feedback, cPanel adjusted the pricing and introduced a number of new options.

A new license is now available for virtual machines, the cPanel Plus Cloud, with a limit of 50 accounts at a partner price of $25.

The Premier tier was also modified, with extra packages available in 50 account increments. The original license was renamed Premier Fixed 100 ($32 for 100 accounts) and the new ones are Premier Fixed 150 (150 accounts, $34.50), Premier Fixed 200 (200 accounts, $39.50) and Premier Fixed 250 (250 accounts, $44.50).

Additional packages of 50 accounts over the limit of 250 cost an extra $5 per month. The old cPanel Solo license is back in the store, with the old price of $15 for a single account.

The company also announced a number of changes aimed at helping partners deal with the transition. The September 15th invoice will be covered by cPanel up to a limit of $10000, as a one-time credit.

Partners can use WHMCS for free for 12 months, in order to implement the new billing model, while yearly licenses that expire have been extended until July 20, to allow for more time to choose a new license (annual plans are no longer available).

Companies from developing economies can now become a cPanel partner more easily and the new cPanel Store, scheduled for release in August 2019, promises to simplify the procedure to become a partner even further.

Also, customers who buy their licenses directly from the cPanel Store can use a tool that shows them the exact monthly cost, based on the number of accounts on their servers.

Effects and cost-reducing tactics

In order to reduce costs, hosting companies have several options. Some major players have immediately stopped selling cPanel to their customers, and are exploring alternative platforms.

Since the main competitor platform, Plesk, is owned by the same investment fund as WHM, it follows a similar licensing model. However, other hosting panels such as DirectAdmin are much cheaper and open source ones like Webmin or CentOS Web Panel (no connection with the operating system) also exist.

For hosting providers that want to stick with cPanel, the best strategy to reduce costs is server consolidation. The large license types are a lot more convenient than the small ones, for example one account costs $4 with the Admin license but only $0.17 with the Premier Fixed 250 one.

Closing old servers with low resources and migrating accounts to powerful new machines that can serve hundreds of websites is the logical option here.

However, such a process of optimization will still generate much higher costs when compared to the old licensing structure, so hosting clients should also expect a price hike.

As a cPanel partner, VPSCheap will also have to adjust license costs. The new prices will be announced in the near future, as we are trying to work out the best deal for our customers.