We frequently are asked if concrete5 has a multi-site management application. The short answer is sure. The better answer is there’s several ways to solve the problem and none of them are perfect for everyone.
1) Domain Mapper If you’ve got a few domains that you’d like to manage with one concrete5 install, the domain mapper add-on is a great choice. It lets you point as many domains as you’d like to different parts on your site tree. It works great if you have a few mini-sites for a marketing campaign, or perhaps you have a public website and a private intranet/extranet.
The down side with this solution is you are running all these “sites” out of one install. If you turn on advanced permissions you can lock down files, users, and permissions to a pretty good degree; but this is still probably not the right solution for hosting dozens of disparate websites.
2) cPanel/WHM Add-on If you’re coming from a webhosting angle you probably know cPanel/WHM is an industry leading control panel application. Our concrete5 add-on for cPanel adds a “concrete5” button to everyone’s cPanel interface. All your customers will have to do is click the pretty icon and choose a subdirectory and concrete5 will be automatically installed. As the root user you also have a centralized list of all concrete5 accounts provisioned this way on the server, and you can actually perform an upgrade on any or all of them from WHM. Pretty cool.
The down side with this solution is you will be using stock concrete5 as is. Due to the way cPanel/WHM add-ons work we can’t let you customize your own concrete5 install and have this work. You are also creating a completely encapsulated install each time a client clicks that icon. Since concrete5 is over 30 megs, that can add up.
3) Centralized install If you’ve got some sysadmin chops you should be able to centralize much of concrete5 on your server and then just create a much smaller footprint for every client install you want. The benefits to this approach are you can really tweak concrete5 out any way you’d like and still save space by managing it centrally.
The down side with this solution is you need to know what you’re doing as a sysadmin, and you have no way to force an upgrade to the database centrally. You could make all the sites point to a new version of the core, but new versions typically require a script to run to update the database, which you can’t easily automate.
Some more thoughts.. There’s no halfway between on these. You can’t “just centralize some of the content” easily. There’s also no highly configurable site setup wizard where “my customers can pick a theme, choose an industry type and have sample content I create.” Some of this stuff is in the works, and of course anything is possible with enough development, but there’s no magic switch to turn the awesomeness on today. ;)