Mark Kimsal has posted part one of a new series he's working up on creating a virtual host control panel by pairing with PHP a few other technologies.
I still come across a person now and then who does not appreciate the power that any server control panel gives you. [...] They reduce the margin of error that a human can bring to the table when editing files and performing commands "by hand". If host control panels are so good, why would you want to write your own control panel when there are so many out there already? Well, the answer is, there aren't any open source ones.
He talks about starting out right by defining the build and the technology to use and only then gets started coding. His application uses the Cognify framework, SQLite, Nanoweb and, of course, PHP. At the end of this part of the series, you'll have the framework set up and a sample module in place to mess with.