Sunday, 23 May 2010 02:59

Parallels sees future in small business cloud

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Although Parallels is probably best known for its desktop virtualisation products - especially for Mac OS X - the bulk of its revenue comes from the software it supplies to service providers.


If the person in the street associates the word Parallels with anything to do with IT, it's probably with Parallels desktop for Mac, the virtualisation software that allows Windows and other operating systems to run as guests under Mac OS X.

But the company has been involved for years in what is currently known as cloud services enablement, and that part of the business is responsible for 65% of its revenue.

Parallels focuses on service providers that address the needs of small businesses, Jack Zubarev, president of the company's service provider division, told iTWire. During the last two years, telecommunications companies have been taking a growing interest in this space, and some three dozen telcos now use Parallels software to deliver cloud services to small businesses.

Parallels' customers around the world currently deliver over one million virtualised instances to end users. Those 5000+ partners (including some 700 certified providers) include Go Daddy, Rackspace, WebCentral, Telecom Italia, and Swisscom.

Zubarev believes small business is increasingly turning to cloud services, and he predicts that in around 10 years practically all small business IT will be in the cloud. The reason, he explained, is that small business owners want the best of what technology has to offer, but they don't want to rely on IT consultants or specialist staff.

Cloud services such as Salesforce.com provide small businesses with enterprise-class software at a price they can afford and without needing expert help with the implementation and operation.

But service providers need the right tools in order to make a profit when they deliver services at the prices small businesses expect to pay. Find out where Parallels fits in on page 2.


 



Where Parallels comes in is that its software allows the profitable delivery of cloud services to small business clients. Parallels Panels provides self-service control panels that largely eliminate the need for personal service, Parallels Operation Automation reduces the workload associated with provisioning, parallels Business Automation takes care of billing and "complete customer care", while Parallels Containers and Parallels Server Bare Metal provide server virtualisation.

While shared web hosting has been a mainstay of this market for some time, the biggest growth area is messaging and related services - "anything that helps small business to communicate with the outside world," said Zubarev. This includes mail, antispam and antivirus scanning, mail archiving, VoIP, PBX, instant messaging, and more.

The provision of easy to use web interfaces mean that customers can take care of configuration and reconfiguration for themselves, so the services "can be very complex but still easy to use for small businesses," said Zubarev.

Hosted and virtual infrastructure services are another part of the market, with virtual servers already commoditised and virtual desktops becoming more commonplace (eg, IBM entered the market last year with its cloud-based Smart Business Desktop), but Zubarev believes that small businesses want to buy access to applications rather than infrastructure.

"We enable profitable delivery" of those applications, he said. Commoditisation means that providers can't afford to get even one trouble ticket from a customer, as that will wipe out the associated profit for the next two months. Automation and self-service are key to profitability.

Zubarev also noted the growing interest in cloud services among VARs and distributors who realise that sales of hardware and software to business customers - their traditional bread and butter - will decline as cloud computing takes hold. Companies such as Tech Data are using Parallels tools to deliver services, he said.

 


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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