Parallels Promotes Partner Ecosystem at Summit as Competitive Advantage in the Cloud
I had the privilege of attending my third annual Parallels Summit last week and came away even more impressed than ever with the growing ecosystem of partners Parallels is attracting with its technology ‘stack’, and its tireless efforts to educate and enable hosters, telcos, software vendors, systems integrators, value-added resellers and others to become key competitors in the Cloud.
I was invited to attend Parallels’ full-day analyst briefing which preceded the Summit and to moderate a keynote panel session during the conference. (Disclosure: Parallels paid me an honorarium to moderate their panel and covered my travel expenses to the Summit.)
As in years past, the Summit clearly demonstrated that Parallels has become a major force in the rapidly evolving Cloud marketplace by not only offering a strong portfolio of enabling technologies, but also attracting a broadbased ecosystem of partners.
I spent much of the event, talking to a cross-section of attendees, including current and prospective customers who were nearly unanimous in their praise of Parallels’ vision and ability to execute from both a technological and business enablement perspective.
During the Summit, Parallels gave an update of its 2011 results which included the following highlights:
- Twelve of the top thirty global service providers are now using Parallels software.
- Over 100 Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) completed Parallels’ Application Packaging Standard (APS) certification. This is a relatively new area of focus for the company and represents a major growth opportunity.
- Over 150 service providers launched new services using Parallels Virtuozzo Containers.
- Parallels established or expanded over 300 hosting company partnerships, including: KDDI, KT, LuxCloud, Outsourcery, PacHosting, ReadySpace, Reg.ru, SKB Kontur, TDC Hosting, Telekom Malaysia, Tsukaeru.net, UberGlobal, UPC, and Virtual IT.
The Summit represented a perfect barometer for Parallels’ corporate growth and expanded global reach. The event attracted over 1600 attendees from 752 companies and 62 countries.
My panel session represented a clear indication of the growing diversity of Parallels’ partner/customer ecosystem. The session was titled, “Change is Coming: The Impact of Non-Traditional Hosters Entering the Market.” The panelists included:
- William McCarthy, SVP, Insight Managed and Cloud Services, Insight North America
- Steve Robinson, Director, SaaS & Application Services, CenturyLink
- Elliot Noss, President and CEO, Tucows
- Glen Swanson, SVP, Business Customer Group, Best Buy
- Jerome Lecat, CEO, Scality
- Sean Charnock, SVP, Business Development & Alliances, Softlayer Technologies
We had a great discussion during the session about the forces attracting an widening array of new players to the Cloud marketplace, creating a “Cloud Rush” effect, as I like to call it. The panelists described how their companies are trying to respond to the changing competitive landscape and offered advice to the conference attendees about how they should focus their efforts to succeed in the Cloud services business.
To Parallels’ credit, it isn’t sitting back on its laurels as just a technology supplier or ecosystem facilitator. Instead, the company has launched a new market research program to provide additional small- and mid-size business (SMB) trend data to its partners and gain greater thought-leadership in the industry. It is also building a business consulting arm to address the corporate strategy and program development needs of its partners. And, it announced a new ISV accelerator program, in conjunction with Runa Capital, a venture capital firm with over $10 billion in assets.
Parallels’ executives are also putting pieces in place to possibly pursue an IPO in 2012. The company has hired a new CFO and recruited a new CTO from Microsoft.
Many have speculated, including me, that Parallels’ increasingly tight relationship with Microsoft might be a precursor to an acquisition. But, Parallels’ executives deny this is their intent and pointed out during the analyst briefing how they are also building a closer working relationship with Google and other major players. Of course, this doesn’t preclude a move by Microsoft or other potential suitors that would like to take advantage of Parallels’ enabling technologies, partner network and leadership position in the Cloud.
Regardless of the ‘exit’ Parallels’ executives have in mind for 2012, there is no question that the company is in an advantageous position to play an increasingly important role in the rapidly evolving competitive landscape of the Cloud.