Para-normal activity could scare up a true cloud channel
When my more technical friends ask me where I’m heading to this week, my response of “Parallels Summit in Vegas….” generally draws a blank stare followed by “What’s Parallels?”
The simple explanation is that Parallels makes technology to allow service providers to deliver cloud services to small businesses. “Ok…but don’t you write about the channel?” is the next common response. Yes I do. And if you look at the market, the channel over the next decade will switch to selling more “cloud services” than on premise equipment which is becoming increasingly commoditised.
Parallels is not a household name. However, its customers include 90 percent of the top 100 global cloud service providers although its technology is buried below the surface.
Parallels technology allows the automation of service provisioning and billing processes for hosting and service providers – a bit like technologies from Ericsson and Siemens help their telecoms customers such as BT and AT&T provision and bill voice and data services. It’s not the shiny high profile stuff, but this less glamorous plumbing as used by firms like Go Daddy and 1-2-1, provides SMBs with website hosting and basic cloud platforms. However, unlike enterprise equivalents like VMware or HyperV, there is a trade-off in higher-end features.
By why go to Parallels?
The attendees are attractive to an inquisitive journalist. The mix ranges from hard-core Linux developers, start-up SaaS vendors and some of the largest telcos from across the world.
The main news items are reported here and here. In essence, Parallels has added more depth to its automation engine, new storage technology and a method (APS Service Bus) for allowing easier communication between hosted and cloud applications. The firm has signed an agreement with IBM to target joint customers and has accepted minor financial investment from Cisco for an agreement to work more closely with joint customers in an attempt to grow its large service provider customer base.
Speaking to analysts and delegates at the event, there was a sense that the addition of storage was a major cost benefit for data hungry cloud services, while the APS service bus could potentially solve a significant issue around cloud application integration.
However, with all the re-branding and razzmatazz, this is a first step. On closer inspection, the storage element offers low levels of utilisation compared to a dedicated NetApp or EMC equivalent and has no high-end features like de-dupe, quotas or dedicated block support. Some partners claim integration with SSD has been able to speed up the relatively low performance levels offered by the new storage platform.
What is more interesting is the next major upgrade to the Parallels stack, which will provide support for Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and Xen hypervisors. This could potentially allow customers to switch out the basic Parallels hypervisor for a more fully featured and reliable alternative. This is particularly good news for the IBM relationship as the firm is keen on the Open Source KVM technology which is stable and considerably less expensive per VM then either VMware or Microsoft equivalents.