Dec 1st, 2008
Hooray, I don’t have to do systems admin work anymore.
Systems admin work was anything I had to do with a client’s hosting company in order to accommodate their domain and work with their files. It often involved waiting on hold while some tech support person, somewhere in the developing World, tried to find an answer. It wasn’t that my requests were anything special, it’s just that every Web hosting company thought that their Web server’s unique configuration options were special.
That’s now changed. In the past couple of years, a quiet productivity revolution has dramatically simplified and standardized the business of Web hosting. Hosting has been commoditized and, consequently, is more reliable and a lot cheaper than it ever was. How cheap? Less than $10/month will provide more than enough resources for most small and medium-size businesses, including support for multiple domains, email accounts and databases. But more important is the availability of Web-based administration tools that automate the process of installing and configuring dynamic Web applications. Two in particular, cPanel and Fantastico De Luxe, have cut down the amount of time I typically spend in preparing a client’s site from hours to minutes.
cPanel is a suite of tools that a Web hosting service installs on their servers so that you, the client or me, on your behalf, can manage the options and settings related to your account without having to contact technical support. Using cPanel, you can set what domains and host names point to which Web sites; which email address are attached to your domains; who can upload and download files; and what logs and usage reports are generated. If your Web pages contain dynamic content (e.g: a blog) cPanel gives you complete control of the database that serves that content.
Fantastico De Luxe is a web application services installer. It works under cPanel to install popular programs automatically in seconds. I’ve used it serveral time to install WordPress and it just works. WordPress, by itself, is not difficult to install but does require a few more steps and knowledge about what you are doing. With Fantastico everything is done over the Web. A basic WordPress used to take about a half hour of uploading files and configuring options. Now it takes about 30 seconds—and always works!
There is quite an extensive list of applications that fantastico can install besides WordPress: other blogging systems; portal and content mangement systems; ecommerce, shopping cart and customer support software; discussion boards; image galleries; mailing list managers, polls and survey software; courseware and educational applications; advertising and real estate listing programs and more.
So, if you’re looking to move your business onto the Web, or feel it’s time to update that old, static Web site and engage your customers with dynamic content and custom services, you can have confidence in having it done fast and right.