A single pane of glass for hosting

By David Rydell

A single pane of glass is an expression that has been used in the IT industry to describe a system that basically gathers lots of different functions and information in one experience. In today’s world we already have to interact with an abundance of different systems, so as end users we tend to value having as few systems as possible to learn and work with.

Having a unified control panel experience, a single pane of glass if you will, has been one of the goals of our company, Atomia, from the start. We saw a need for having one central control panel to manage Windows and *Nix hosting in one place instead of in separate silos linked together. We didn’t want hosting customers to be forced to use several different systems.

Today we not only have Windows and *Nix shared hosting in the same control panel interface but also a self-service billing portal and VPS hosting powered by OpenStack, AWS and Azure.

Consistency and familiarity matter when it comes to user experience. All companies should strive to make their customers feel at home. As you can imagine, having a mishmash of different control panels and paradigms is a real problem from this perspective, and this is often how traditional hosting companies present their services today.

The power of a cohesive experience

Traditionally, a hosting company would pick several different systems that together cover the features that they want to provide to their customers. This could for example be a control panel for Linux shared hosting, a control panel for Windows shared hosting, a VPS system and a billing system. You can see how this quickly adds up.

Then the work starts with skinning each of these systems so they somewhat feel like your brand and after this is done you get your developers to code some “glue” to hold everything together so you can jump between these systems. This will of course affect the overall user experience both for administrators and your end users.

Our approach is instead to be like a platform where you interact with all services in one place inside a unified interface. This means that everything fits naturally together and works in the same way. You also only need to customize the design for one system instead of several.

By moving to a single-pane-of-glass experience we have seen our customers appreciate the following benefits:

  • Coherence — Things work in the same way no matter what you want to do.
  • Brand value — Easy to adapt to your brand guides.
  • Professional — A more professional experience without systems linked together.
  • Time to market — Quick and flexible to change and customize.
  • Maintenance — Easier to maintain.

Naturally it’s also a sales argument for hosting companies to have a more unique interface because of the strong competition in the hosting industry.

If you want to learn more about how we have structured things, you can check out some screenshots or read more about how Atomia works.

A version of this article originally appeared on our blog.