What do you do when you find out your product is wildly popular in markets you initially didn't plan to target? That was the situation Parallels found itself in when it turned out its Plesk hosted service dashboard was gaining traction with VARs that wanted to monitor customer servers. That's why Parallels Plesk Panel 10 has been streamlined and revamped with new features, many aimed at VARs.

According to Parallels' Senior Product Marketing Manager for Panel Products Jon McCarrick, the streamlined interface was prompted by a survey of Parallels customers which revealed that 85% of Plesk users were web designers, small business IT staff, and, yes, value added resellers. For hopefully obvious reasons, The VAR Guy's conversation with McCarrick focused on that last one.

It turned out that VARs were primarily using the Plesk Panel to monitor customer servers. That's why Parallels has removed a lot of "jargon" around shared hosting. That's why Plesk 10 supports delegating access to other users for the first time with roles and permissions set by the administrator. McCarrick says it's for customers who need access to the functionality of hosted services but don't need to know how the sausage is made.

Another feature, the new Parallels SiteBuilder, is another VAR-focused tool, according to McCarrick -- it enables the sale of value-added services like web design, even if the reseller in question isn't a designer. And they've integrated billing, ordering, and customer payment into the solution, too.

When I spoke with McCarrick, the last thing I asked was if he was ready for the inevitable stream of hatemails that say they liked the old version better. But he says that response from companies who have already gotten the chance to try Parallels Plesk Panel 10 has been unilaterally positive. If that's true, it may be worth a look from hosting service resellers.

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