This week virtualization.info is following – for the first time – the Parallels annual Summit that takes place at the lovely Fontainebleau in Miami Beach.
Easy to guess, the leitmotif of this edition is cloud computing, pretty much like everywhere else in the Industry.
Parallels doesn’t specifically use the term to mean virtualization-powered Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), even if it’s a virtualization vendor, but rather as an umbrella that has a major focus on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Serguei Beloussov, Parallels Chairman and CEO, is on stage.
Parallels Summit primarily is a conference for partners, and Beloussov doesn’t waste any time to say that cloud computing is an opportunity for profit when you address SMBs.
To Parallels a typical Small Business is a firm that only has part-time employees or a very small number (like 50), without IT staff or capability to plan, deploy and administer a computer infrastructure.
Agreed or not with the definition, this is exactly the market that Parallels is targeting today.
Looking at this strategy from a virtualization angle only, Parallels is working to be the VMware of SMBs, or better, the VMware of ISPs that target SMB customers.
No matter how hard VMware tried to address the smaller firms in these years. Everything in its messaging, roadmap, and pricing structure makes vSphere, and its other products, unreachable for the lower end of market (ESXi is a nice attempt but far from enough).
Focusing its efforts on this market segment, and concentrating primarily on the hosting industry, Parallels is everything but a direct competitor of VMware and other virtualization players (of course this doesn’t involve the direct competition in the Apple consumer space around desktop virtualization).
Beloussov announces that the Parallels is re-engineering its portfolio, moving from a products-oriented portfolio to a services-oriented one.
This means that the existing virtualization solutions will be aggregated in what it’s called Virtualized Infrastructure Services (VPS), which includes control panels, provisioning, billing and of course virtualization platforms (Virtuozzo Containers, Server for Mac and Server Bare-Metal).
Parallels expects the virtualization business for the hosting industry to grow 31% till 2013, up to $5.1B.
Beloussov has no problems in admitting that VMware ESX is the best hypervisor on the market, but he smiles while saying “except for its price”.
This is why he seems particularly proud to announce that Parallels hired Amir Sharif, former VMware ESX Product Manager, as new Vice President of Virtualization.
Sharif will certainly provide impressive intelligence to Parallels about VMware and how his former company led and controlled the whole virtualization industry so far.
That’s it for today.
As already said, Parallels has a broad scope of products and it’s clear that virtualization is just a small part of the business.
This year’s agenda doesn’t include a keynote dedicated to virtualization, so there’s not much more to add right now.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s live coverage.
Update: Attending a breakout session in the afternoon provided interesting additional details about how Parallels is reshaping its virtualization go-to-market strategy.
During his Best Practices with Virtualization session, the new VP of Virtualization Amir Sharif, offered a couple of extremely valuable insights about the industry.
First, he clarified that is extremely hard to go downstream once you are an established enterprise vendor. Any firm trying to win the SMB market after ruling the Enterprise one risks to compromise its image, to lose its margins, to reduce resources focused on large accounts.
Anybody in the industry knows this, but it’s rather interesting to hear so from a former VMware manager.
Secondarily, he indirectly admitted that Parallels competitor in virtualizing the hosting industry is not VMware, but vendors that offer Xen-based platforms. And this is because Amazon, with its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) which is based on Xen, is leading by example.
In fact, hosting providers may be confident in Xen capabilities because of EC2 and The RackSpace Cloud (formerly Mosso) success achieved so far.
Sharif’s point is that embracing Xen implies a lot of hidden costs that don’t exist with Parallels Virtualized Infrastructure Services (VPS) offering.
While this may be true, it must be seen if hosting providers will have same opinion now that Citrix XenServer is free and open source too, and that the Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) approaches a GA status.