SWsoft, a virtualization company that has labored in the shadow of VMware and other vendors for years, is changing its corporate name and plans to make a bigger push into this fast-growing market in 2008.
In January, SWsoft will officially rechristen itself as Parallels—the original name of the virtualization company that SWsoft acquired several years ago, but only officially acknowledged in January 2007. SWsoft also announced Dec. 12 that all of its products, including its signature Virtuozzo software, will be renamed to reflect the corporate name change.
The Herndon, Va., company is also announcing a new initiative in 2008 called "Optimized Computing," which will allow it to deliver desktop and server virtualization, along with other automation features, to customers in a single package of services. More details are expected to come in 2008 after the company makes the official switch to the Parallels name.
"This is just one of a series of announcements that will come out over the next few months," CEO Serguei Beloussov told eWEEK. "This is a very different company today and we really want to make this the year that we are even more visible."
The move by SWsoft comes at the end of a breakthrough year for virtualization that started when VMware announced its initial public offering in August. That was followed by Citrix acquiring XenSource for $500 million and Oracle's announcement that it too would begin offering virtualization software.
The buzz comes at a time when the technology has started to gain more of an acceptance in the enterprise. A Forrester Research study recently found that half of all enterprises it surveyed were using x86 virtualization now and two-thirds of all companies will be using the technology by 2009.
For Beloussov, the timing is right to take the company to a new level. SWsoft now has 900 employees and 500 partnerships with companies ranging from IBM to Dell to Intel. (Intel Capital invested in the company in 2005.) In order to take the next step, Beloussov believes that the company needs to present a unified brand name instead of a series of products with different names and little to unite them.
"There are a number of things we are working on that will make the company's vision simpler for partners and customers to understand, and part of that goes with offering a unified, single brand name," said Beloussov, adding that more users can identify with the Parallels name than with SWsoft.
For years, SWsoft, which was founded in 1999, kept a low profile, which Beloussov said allowed the company to keep its ultimate intentions and strategy to itself. Now, the company has enough backing and technology to compete as a significant, independent vendor.
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said that while SWsoft has carved out a space for its own brand of x86 virtualization technology, a change at this point shows that the product names have not resonated with as many customers as hoped. Part of that is because the market is dominated by several big players with Microsoft expected to join soon.
"I have a feeling that the repositioning and rebranding of SWsoft reflects the same type of pressure that other, smaller x86 vendors are feeling in a market place dominated by several large players," King said. "They have a very impressive product. However, in a market with companies like Microsoft and VMware, these vendors tend to be the players that define what the market is and where it's going."
SWsoft is primarily known for its Virtuozzo software.
Unlike the type of hypervisor technology used by VMware and other x86 virtualization vendors, Virtuozzo partitions either a Linux or Microsoft operating system in virtual containers or environments. On Dec. 10, the company announced the beta version of Virtuozzo 4.0, which it previewed at the 2007 VMworld conference.
On the other hand, Parallels was mainly known for its desktop virtualization, especially its software for Apple's Mac OS. At the VMworld conference, Parallels executives also announced that it would begin to offer server virtualization that will eventually use some of the same management features found in Virtuozzo.
In addition to the other news, the company is planning an updated version of both its Parallels Desktop and Workstation products.