Plesk have been busy taking the base of their Onyx platform (see our previous article covering the new features) and putting a lot of development time into this latest release.
Known as Obsidian, this release extends the focus on the modern web stack and brings in a number of key features which will be important for hosting providers, agencies, developers and end users.
Having tested the release during it’s development cycle, Conetix has already begun the roll-out across all of our servers.
In this post, we’ll cover a number of our top features we’ve been looking forward to.
New Look and Feel
The new Obsidian interface is familiar for those who have used Onyx, yet many areas have received a refreshed look to be simpler and easier to navigate.
While the changes appear subtle at first, this is also a sign of great design. It also means that there’s no additional user training required, anyone already familiar with Plesk can jump straight back in without any retraining required.
Improved PHP Composer Support
No longer just a basic add-on, the Composer system within Plesk is now a first class citizen. Composer has evolved to be the dependency manager of choice for PHP and used by popular frameworks such as Laravel.
With complete dependency and package management built in, the Composer UI can automatically handle your deployments without ever having to go near a command line.
The new 2.0 Composer automatically reads your composer.json file to find the dependencies and can therefore install them all automatically for you.
All of the modern development requirements such as choosing between dev and production as well as setting environment variables is completely handled by the Plesk UI too.
SNI for Email
The push for SSL encryption for all mail services has been a good thing from a security perspective, but has lead to a lot of confusion and change for end users. Known as Server Name Indication or SNI for short, this feature means that your Plesk server can now use more than one SSL certificate for email.
Instead of customers connecting to the name of their server, with a valid SSL certificate they can use the root of their domain or even mail.<theirdomain>.com.au as their nameserver and the certificate will be valid. This is especially handy on all Apple devices and newer copies of Microsoft Outlook, where the valid SSL certificate is enforced.
Autodiscover for Email
Again taking from the SNI enhancements, Obsidian makes it easier again for users to configure their mail clients. The Autodiscover will work for all Outlook versions as well as Mozilla Thunderbird. Instead of users having to remember what name to enter for their mail client and what ports, SSL settings and so forth to set the autodisovery within their mail client will automatically retrieve these settings from the server.
The end result is easier setup for the client, which in turn leads to happier clients and less support requests. It’s a win-win!
The latest micro-update (18.0.23) also adds easy configuration for Apple devices as well, easing the support burden of clients adding new email boxes.
As long term users of Grafana for our internal metrics platform, this gets a big thumbs up from us. The previous Server Health Monitor while helpful, it simply didn’t have the ease of use nor the fidelity that Grafana provides for metrics.
Plesk have not only integrated it within the main admin UI (ie, with the same look and feel as the rest of the Plesk Admin) but also allow it to be accessed directly. Again, this comes down to the level of polish and enhancement that Plesk have put into Obsidian.
Even the notifications for any server health issues have been updated, which is (again!) a very welcome change. Our prediction is that Plesk will continue to enhance the monitoring here and we can’t wait to see how it evolves over the next 12 months.
In previous editions, if you ran server wide backups then the server needed at least the same amount of space required spare as it did files for the temporary archive.
For example, if you had 30GB of files, databases and email then to run a server wide backup you required 30GB of free space. This was quite inefficient, especially at a hosting level where you have hundreds of servers running.
With the latest Obsidian release, this additional space requirement is simply as two subscriptions worth not an entire server’s worth. In addition to this, many aspects of the backup functionality has had significant performance enhancements. Browsing backups stored on FTP or other remote systems is back down to seconds instead of minutes.
There’s more to come…
These are just our highlights, in amongst the updates are hundreds of other improvements as well. What’s more, we know that there’s still plenty of changes and enhancements yet to be rolled out as well.
Full release notes: https://docs.plesk.com/release-notes/obsidian/whats-new/