Mar 30, 2009

Is Parallels the missing weapon in Symantec’s virtualization arsenal for taking on Citrix, Microsoft and VMware?

Starting in 2007, Symantec has been quietly building a virtualization solutions portfolio through a string of acquisitions:

In Spring 2009, Symantec plans to release an integrated and enhanced suite of products from its acquisitions in the Symantec Endpoint Virtualization Suite which will compete with:

  • Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp
  • Microsoft MED-V and Microsoft App-V
  • VMware View and VMware Thinstall

Despite its efforts, Symantec is missing a key component in its offering to take on Citrix, Microsoft and VMware: a virtualization platform with comprehensive management and automation capabilities. Citrix knew the importance of not solely relying on third-party virtualization platforms, acquiring XenSource in 2007. And although $500 million seems like a big investment (it is) strategically Citrix is well-positioned to offer a complete, integrated virtualization stack to enterprise customers with Citrix XenServer, Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp, accompanied by management applications offered in Citrix Essentials and from Citrix partners such as Marathon Technologies.

So what can Symantec do to bolster its virtualization offering? Will there be a window of opportunity for the software giant to offer customers an end-to-end solution from the desktop to the data center or will it continue to simply partner with Citrix, Microsoft and VMware?

Enter Parallels. While Parallels has taken its time to build a bare-metal hypervisor, the company knew that it could not bring a second rate product to market given the fierce competition. So instead of launching Parallels Server prematurely, Parallels continued to build and refine a virtualization offering that is technologically superior to anything currently available on the market:

  • Hybrid OS and hypervisor virtualization solution with integrated management and automation
  • Memory over-commit (currently available only in VMware ESX) for higher consolidation ratios
  • Live migration for OS containers (no downtime) and virtual machines (short downtime) without shared storage requirement (comparable to VMotion and Storage VMotion from VMware)
  • Data protection with live backups and snapshots

There is more...

  • Comprehensive storage support for SAN, iSCSI and NAS
  • Built on top of high-performance, scalable and proven Parallels Virtuozzo Containers kernel that is deployed on more than 50,000 servers world-wide
  • P2V and V2V migration tools with support for converting OS containers to virtual machines
  • It also looks like there may be a hardware abstraction layer (similar to VMware ESX) that would allow migrations across heterogeneous servers (not possible with Xen or Hyper-V)

To top this off, Parallels already has market-leading virtualization products for desktops: Parallels Workstation and Parallels Desktop for MAC (with over one million copies sold world-wide).

So why should Symantec (and other vendors such as Oracle) take notice? Because with a single acquisition, it would be possible to obtain superior virtualization technology for desktops and servers with integrated automation and management. Furthermore, while other virtualization vendors are talking about cloud computing, Parallels is probably best positioned to be a leader in this space because it already owns dominant mind and market share in the hosting market. In other words Parallels has leapfrogged all the other vendors.

Parallels may be late to the party with its bare-metal hypervisor but it is going to crash the party once it arrives, and certainly turn some heads. And with Parallels channel partners already using Lanamark Suite for delivering virtualization services to drive Parallels virtualization products to enterprise customers, Parallels will be unstoppable.

Response to Simon Crosby's blog post is here

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