New cPanel Database Mapping Feature: Is it for You?

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It was announced by cPanel on April 14, 2010 that cPanel 11.25.1 will include a new database mapping feature that’s been long requested: the removal of cPanel username prefixes from the database names. This is a non-reversible, opt-in feature that some hosts may find very valuable. But is it a feature that you need?

Who is this feature for?

  • Hosts migrating entire servers from other control panels like Plesk or Ensim
  • Single-customer environments

Who is this feature not for?

  • Shared hosting providers
  • Larger-scale hosts

The concerns that are initially raised is in regards to shared hosting servers. With the new database mapping feature turned on, if one user takes a database name, no one else on the server can use it. Additionally, you’re creating a conflict if you move that user from one server to another, where the recipient server already has a user with that database name. For these reasons alone, I would not advise this option being enabled for the general shared hosting provider, if the end users are going to be allowed to pick database names.

One of the advantages of cPanel is that you can move accounts between cPanel servers, even those from other hosts. If one host has the new mapping feature enabled, and one doesn’t (or has an older version of cPanel), you’re likely going to have a problem. For hosts with high conversion rates, this can be a deal breaker if the ease of moving cPanel accounts from other hosts isn’t there anymore. This feature also creates a break in the standardization that all cPanel servers inherently have. Most users by now that have already used cPanel know about the current database naming scheme, so enabling this feature without any technical justification can also create confusion among users that are familiar with and have been using cPanel for a long time.

Update: A rep from cPanel added this comment:

As cPanel 11.25.0 builds 46057 and higher, accounts transferred from a cPanel 11.25.1 system will preserve the YAML mapping file. Any databases and database users that lack the old-style prefix will not be manageable in the 11.25.0 cPanel interface, but the information is at least retained for later use (e.g. if a system with such an account is later upgraded to cPanel 11.25.1+ then the pre-existing YAML file will be updated and the databases and user will be manageable in the cPanel interface).

On the other hand, this feature is extremely valuable for hosts converting from other control panels or fulfilling requirements of single-customer environments. Other control panels do not prefix usernames to the database name, so large transfers would be especially painful for a cPanel host that acquires a non-cPanel host. The new mapping feature will help eliminate downtime due to incorrect database connection parameters and the need for mass reconfiguration.

Finally, for hosts that offer VPS and Dedicated hosting to single-customer environments, it’s nice to finally be able to remove the prefix that annoys web developers and IT people in charge of moving their customer sites.

So while this new feature is exciting, it’s opt-in for a reason – and that doesn’t mean it’s right for your hosting setup.

Additional Information:

http://www.cpanel.net/blog/integration/2010/04/a-general-overview-of-database-mapping.html
http://www.cpanel.net/2010/05/backwards-incompatible.html
http://www.cpanel.net/blog/integration/2010/05/more-details-about-db-mapping.html

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