What is cPanel?
cPanel is a web hosting control panel system that is installed on a dedicated server. The control panel system comes in two parts: Web Host Manager (WHM) for the web host, and cPanel for the end-user.
Web Host Manager (WHM), which allows the webhost to easily administer individual hosting accounts, reseller accounts and perform basic system and control panel maintenance via a secure interface. A web host does not need to know how to manually set up user accounts, passwords, ftp accounts or mail accounts through the command line as is typical of all dedicated servers. The user interface makes creating an account a breeze with one-click creation of accounts.
cPanel is designed for the end-users (hosting customers) and allows them to control everything in their accounts, including adding / removing email accounts, administering MySQL databases, creating redirects, creating FTP accounts and many more.
Getting a cPanel server
Not all dedicated servers purchased/leased from server providers come with cPanel. There are numerous other types of automated control panels available, so choosing a server that comes with cPanel is important. cPanel has partnerships with leading datacenters and offer a discounted rate on cPanel license when purchased together with the server. Examples of cPanel partner NOCs (Network Operating Centers) are BurstNet and LiquidWeb. These NOCs may offer a server with no control panel, or include a cPanel license at a norminal fee of $19.95. However, as of now, cPanel can only be installed on a linux based dedicated server or virtual private server.
What's next after getting a server?
Before running out to advertise and to get clients for your new hosting business, you must remember to run some initializations on your cPanel server if your datacenter did not already do it for you. Listed in order are the steps required on a new server:
1. Set up nameservers
2. Secure the server by tweaking security settings
3. Check that all server services are running
4. Install add-on scripts that you would like to offer your clients
5. Install security scripts if you wish to increase server security
Other things you should know
Despite all its features, cPanel does not include any customer billing feature for web hosts to manage customer accounts and payments. As such, you would still have to manually register new clients and bill existing clients through some form of online form or email. This usually includes signing up for a Paypal or merchant account in order to receive payments. A more advanced payment solution such as Modernbill would manage cPanel by creating accounts and also bill your clients at the required times.
Dan Chris writes for AlltheServers.com , a site that focuses on dedicated servers to help consumers understand the dedicated server industry. Find more information on dedicated servers used for cpanel hosting at http://www.AlltheServers.com