cPanel has been the world's most popular control panel for Linux-based servers. Chances are, if you've purchased website hosting, you've encountered cPanel at some point. The software is licensed by hosting providers, and license fees are typically wrapped into the hosting costs you pay.
This last June (2019), cPanel announced an unexpectedly large price increase for those who license their software. A part of the change, was a shift from charging per server to charging per account. In any shared hosting situation where there are hundreds of accounts on a server, you might see why this can result in a huge sudden cost increase. Part of what set the hosting industry buzzing was that while gradual increases are fairly common, such a dramatic and sudden increase creates immediate problems for most businesses that rely on the software. Depending on the server setup, cPanel licensees are expected to see a 25% to 50% increase on average, and for those with a large number of accounts on a server, an increase of over 100% is possible.
How this will affect the web hosting industry is as yet unknown... options will be different for different companies. Those hurt the worst will be the smaller providers. Hosting is already a "race to the bottom" between the large entities, who use low prices and a fairly illusory offer of "unlimited" space and bandwidth, looking to get people in the door and profit from later upsells and overages. (Always read the fine print!)
One of the options we've given serious thought to at My Web Maestro are cPanel alternatives. Software like Interworx or Webmin could replace cPanel, and there are additional options. Some are free, most are cheaper, however most don't do everything cPanel does.
Our solution for now is an arrangement with our hardware vendor that splits the new costs across multiple shoulders, which helps us prevent the increase from completely falling down hill to our hosting customers. We've updated our hosting plans, which have slightly increased pricing, but they also include more disk space and monthly bandwidth to ensure no loss of overall value.
This event is actually a good case study and proof of value for one of our approaches to providing website services. We've used cPanel and have set our system up in a way that is as "industry standard" as possible. This means you have an easier time moving your site elsewhere if you choose, because migrating between two environments that are the same is easy. There are cheaper options, but they would in effect "lock" you in to our service. When you're locked into one system, and the people that own that system decide to make a drastic change, you're stuck dealing with it. In my opinion, that leads to a frustrated customer/business relationship.
If you'd like to read more about the cPanel increase, here's a couple of articles: