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A Winning Combination: Software-as-Services Plus Business Consulting and Process Services
By Laurie McCabe
January 30, 2004

With server space a commodity item, hosting service providers (HSPs) are constantly looking for ways to offer value-added services. In an effort to help its HSP customers offer premium services, Ensim Corp, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based hosting automation software provider, today announced Ensim Power Tools.

The add-on to Ensim’s WEBppliance is designed to allow HSPs to create tiered hosting plans that will increase their revenue potential while controlling support costs.

The most important elements for HSPs, said Steve Dauber, Ensim’s vice president of marketing are “cost of deployment and shared server security.”

Power Tools is available only for the Linux version of WEBppliance. Dauber said that Linux is by far the dominant operating system among his company’s user base, with about 12,000 customers using WEBppliance Pro for Linux. However, Dauber added that Windows installations have started to pick up since Microsoft’s release of Windows Server 2003. (In June, Ensim announced WEBppliance Pro for Windows 2003.)

The key for HSPs struggling in a tight-margin market is to add services without adding complexity, Dauber said. Ensim addresses the cost issue by designing to Power Tools to allow HSPs’ customers to install, configure and deploy Web applications without technical expertise. Dauber said that Ensim focused on applications that allow companies to add rich content to their Web sites. As of today’s announcement the following applications are available for deployment from Power Tools:

  • Content Management: PHPNuke and PostNuke
  • Discussion Boards: PHPBB2 and Invision Power Board
  • Chat: PHPOpenChat
  • Photo Albums: Gallery
  • Web Form Management: Form Mail
  • E-commerce: OSCommerce
Users can add the Web scripts for the applications with a click of a button, Ensim reports, reducing the customer support calls HSPs need to avoid to keep expenses down. HSPs also have control over which Web applications are available to which customers, which is designed to allow them to create tiered hosting plans that range from entry-level to advanced plans that supports e-commerce or Web portal hosting.

Dauber said the Power Tools also “add a layer of security” to shared server environments. More and more applications rely on PHP to create dynamic Web pages, he said, which presents a security concern.

Most scripts, Dauber said, require hosting providers to disable security features like PHP safe_mode. In a shared server environment this means that, in effect, each site has access to every file on the server. Ensim’s Virtual Private File System is designed restrict access to authorized files only.

Ensim Power Tools is available at a list price of $199.00. Until Nov. 10, the service is available for $149. It will also be available for free with the purchase of WEBppliance Pro for Linux with 250 new domain licenses through December.

Related News
Ensim rival SWsoft yesterday announced the release of Plesk 6 Power Pack, which the company said automates the entire application deployment process and gives HSPs the capability to reduce support costs while extending its service offerings.

SWsoft reports that Plesk 6 Power Pack includes the follwing features:

  • PostgreSQL databases are supported and manageable in the Plesk 6 interface
  • Tomcat Open is also manageable from the Plesk 6 interface
  • Event Manager API is designed to allow system administrators to integrate with third-party billing programs such as Rodopi, ModernBill and DreamCost
  • Multi-Language Option 1 offers additional language options for clients to view the Plesk 6 interface, including Spanish, German, French, Russian, Japanese, Finnish, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese
  • Plesk 10 Server Master Interface is designed to make multi-Web server administration secure and cost- effective. System administrators and ASPs have the capability to manage multiple servers (and multiple customer accounts )from a single console.
SWsoft reports that software is free through the end of the month with the purchase of any unlimited domain or 300-domain license. After that, Plesk 6 Power Pack will be priced at $299.

Dan Muse is executive editor of EarthWeb’s Networking & Communications Channel and internet.com’s Small Business Channel.


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