As pundits in the Silicon Valley bubble (including the ones whose ideas are shaped by what is happening in the valley) focus more on the AWS, OpenStack and VMwares of the world, there is a company, mostly operating under the radar of these Valley pundits (which includes me), which is slowly but steadily gaining the cloud marketshare among the SMBs. The company is Parallels, a leader in the traditional hosting world focussed on SMBs. Last week, I had an opportunity to attend Parallels Summit and it exposed me to a world outside the Silicon Valley bubble. Parallels is smoothly transitioning from the traditional hosting world to provider of automation solutions for the cloud. As someone who is strongly advocating the idea of federated clouds, I found Parallels strategy interesting.
Parallels takes an entirely different approach to cloud like what they did in the case of virtualization. Unlike VMware and others in the virtualization space, Parallels took a container based approach to virtualization than the hypervisor approach. Even though the hypervisor based approach is the predominant approach to virtualization in the enterprise, the container based approach of Parallels gained significant traction in the SMB hosting market. The container based model is a good fit for SMB market because
- it offers better performance as there is no hit due to hypervisor
- it offers much higher density for hosting providers
On the flip side, it cannot meet some of the enterprise advantages offered by the hypervisor based virtualization like
- secure isolation of virtual machines
- ability to run multiple OSes on the same server
- Easy portability
With SMBs caring less about security and ease of portability, it makes sense for cloud hosting providers in the hosting market to embrace the container approach to virtualization (in this regard, I will refer to a post by Sam Johnston on different types of cloud). Parallels is targeting this segment and are offering an onramp to hosting providers in Parallels ecosystem to transition into cloud hosting providers. With a potential SMB IT spend pegged at $1.1 Trillion, Parallels has a plan to capture the big chunk of this pie.
Their Parallels Automation for Cloud Infrastructure offering helps service providers build scalable multi-tenant cloud infrastructure using container virtualization or Virtual Machines. They offer everything needed to build cloud infrastructure including virtualization, automation tools, billing tools, customer service tools and an online store. A comprehensive end to end solution that will take small hosting providers to transition into a cloud hosting provider seamlessly. Their modular approach also gives options to these service providers to use other third party tools wherever necessary.
Some of the features of Parallels Automation for Cloud Infrastructure include
- An intuitive configuration screen to order and resize cloud servers aided by a REST API
- Ability to offer pay as you go offering
- Ability to run containers or VMs and private networks to securely connect the servers of one customers
- It will also be integrated with Microsoft System Center and Plesk Panel
- An integrated customer control panel for self service
This along with their offerings to help ISVs embrace SaaS puts them in a pretty good position to gain the marketshare in the SMB cloud market. Their plans for cloud service brokerage and enhanced cloud support in the upcoming Plesk 11 Control Panel bodes well for a future defined by a federated ecosystem of cloud providers. If you are following the cloud infrastructure space, I suggest that you keep Parallels in the list that contains OpenStack, CloudStack, vCloud, Eucalyptus, etc..
disclosure: Parallels took care of my travel and stay during the conference
- Parallels Summit – Birger Steen (zdnet.com)
- State of the SMB cloud market (ecoinsite.com)
- Trends For Cloud Service Providers and Traditional IT Vendors in 2012 (clean-clouds.com)