The majority of customers purchase web hosting accounts to run different web applications: Webmail, CRM, e-commerce systems, blogs, image galleries and so on. Typically, such users are unable to install the apps by themselves because they lack the necessary technical skills and experience, so they ask their service providers to do it. Hence, the provider's staff becomes overloaded with routine operations related to the apps. To ease the installation (and maintenance) of web apps and reduce the staff's workload, Parallels offers a number of free and commercial apps available to Panel users directly from their Control Panel.
There are various factors that regulate what apps are available to your customers. For example, the app list is restricted by service plan or subscription properties, local repository settings and so on. To see how the apps list is formed, refer to the How Apps Become Available to Your Customers section.
Parallels offers two types of apps:
Apps can be either free or commercial. Commercial apps require providing a license key to start working with them. You or your customers can buy licenses for commercial apps right from the Control Panel: In the Applications tab such apps are accompanied by the Buy Now button instead of Install Now. If your Panel license comes in a bundle with licenses for certain commercial apps, you do not need to additionally obtain app licenses.
App Installation and Maintenance
The process of installation does not require any specific skills from customers. They fill in app settings (say, administrator credentials), and Panel installs the app for them. Subsequent app management is also facilitated as apps are updated or removed directly in Panel. Moreover, customers can access some functions that apps make available in the Control Panel (without the need to log in to an app). For example, customers can upload a new WordPress theme or add a SugarCRM user account directly from their Control Panel. Such app functionality is a service the app provides to customers.
Apps Backup and Restoration
Apps are backed up by standard Panel means (the
backup utility). Since the backup unit is a subscription, all apps in a subscription must be backed up at once. The apps from a backup are restored along with other subscription data.
Application Vault and Application Catalog
If there are no restrictions on app availability, the list of available apps in the Control Panel includes all apps from the following two sources:
The main purposes of the Application Vault are to:
For more information on managing apps through the Application Vault, refer to the Managing Apps with the Application Vault section.
Summing up, the Application Vault is not only a local repository of apps but a tool to control versioning, visibility, and server-wide settings of apps from the Application Catalog. For better understanding of the Application Vault, refer to the scheme shown in the How Apps Become Available to Your Customers section.
Sharing Apps among Panel Servers
Adding an APS package to the Application Vault will make it available only to your customers. If you wish to share your app with users of other Panel servers, add an app to the Application Catalog. The Catalog accepts only apps packaged according to Application Packaging Standard (APS) - the set of rules that allows easy app installation and management. After you have packaged your app, it must pass the certification procedure. For details on how to do this, see http://www.apsstandard.org/why-aps/isv/.
Since Panel 10, Parallels Partner Storefront program offers you the possibility to earn by selling commercial apps to customers in a revenue-share model. Within this program, you select the apps you want to sell and Parallels adds them to the list of apps available in Control Panel. Once customers choose one of the paid apps selected for the program, they are forwarded to a store with your own branding to complete the order. This branded store is called the Storefront.
All ordering, licensing, and billing aspects are handled by the Storefront. You just track the sales and receive a profit from each app sold.
Note: Storefront may contain some commercial apps that are available in Application Catalog as well. In this case, Storefront apps have a priority and customers always see them first in the list of available apps.
Note that you should have the appropriate Panel license to participate in the program. For more information on Parallels Partner Storefront, refer to the http://www.parallels.com/products/plesk/storefront/.
For the details about how you can manage the availability of Storefront apps to your customers, refer to the section How Apps Become Available to Your Customers.
Next in this section, we will provide details on how to manage apps using the Application Vault as well as the information on how apps become available in the customer's Control Panel.