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Friday, 27 May 2011 14:28

Parallels predicts cloud channel s renaissance Featured


The cloud computing metaphor will radically change the way the world's 148 million small businesses buy and consume ICT - but to deliver the maximum benefits, a whole layer of service providers will be needed to compile tailor-made service bundles as a few large cloud providers offering vanilla solutions won't meet SMB's needs.

Birger Steen joined virtualisation niche player Parallels in September last year from Microsoft, and was appointed CEO of the organisation in February 2011. On a visit to Sydney this week Mr Steen said that the arrival of Office 365 - Microsoft's cloud version of Office - from late June would help unleash demand for software sold as a service among the SMB end of the market.

But he warned; 'I think many of the big players are overoptimistic that the channel will be replaced by direct sales.' Instead Mr Steen predicted there will be a renaissance for the channel if companies are able to provide online services that bring together a raft of their own and third party services into a single solution under one billing mechanism for small businesses.

Parallels has just sold systems intended to allow that level of control to local service provider UberGlobal Enterprise.

Parallels was founded in Singapore by graduates from the Moscow Institute of Science and has since carved itself a position in the 'niche players' part of the server virtualisation space according to analyst, Gartner. Mr Steen explained that the company's main product set has three elements - a virtualisation platform; control panels to manage virtualised environments; and the automation and billing tools that allow service providers to orchestrate bundles of services from multiple sources for individual users.

Unlike many virtualisation tools which introduce a hypervisor level, Parallels virtualises at the operating system level. According to Mr Steen this means that about 10 times as many users can access the virtualised environment as might otherwise be expected.

However he acknowledged that; 'The price you pay though is that on any server box you can only support one operating system.'

For many enterprise users that lack of operating system flexibility may preclude use of the Parallels virtualisation approach, but according to Mr Steen it has made it attractive to service or cloud providers.

It is also helping increase Parallels' revenue at a rate of 20-30 per cent a year according to Mr Steen who said the privately held company was now achieving sales north of $100 million a year. The company has had an Australian operation for the past two years and now has a team of four employees (internationally it has more than 800 employees).

'Parallels has the opportunity to change the way SMBs consumer IT,' according to Mr Steen, by providing service providers with 'the underlying plumbing' to allow them to craft unique solutions with a single bill for individual users.

Parallels also sells virtualisation tools to allow Macs introduced into a corporate environment to operate as PCs in the workplace, and access Windows applications.  In Australia that product is distributed by Simms International.

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