Parallels Names New CEO and Outlines SMB Cloud Strategy

Parallels outlined a new cloud focus its Parallels Summit in Orlando and named current president Birger Steen to replace its founder and outgoing CEO, Sergeui Beloussov.

In the search for a new CEO, virtualization software maker Parallels stayed close to home and named one of its own senior executives to the post. Birger Steen, the current president of Parallels, has been promoted to CEO, effective Feb. 23, the company said.

Company founder and outgoing CEO Sergeui Beloussov announced Steen's appointment during his keynote speech on Feb. 23 at Parallels Summit in Orlando. Steen joined Parallels six months ago and since then has overseen the launch of Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac software and Parallels Plesk Panel 10, said Beloussov.

"During his six months with Parallels, Birger has proven himself to be an incisive decision-maker and capable leader for all areas of our business," said Beloussov.

Best known for its desktop and server virtualization software, the majority of Parallels business comes from tools for hosting providers to manage virtual and physical servers, to deploy applications to the cloud and to enable integration with third-party cloud services. At the conference, Parallels outlined its strategy for bringing small and medium businesses to the cloud.

Steen said he will focus on expanding cloud services for small to medium businesses.

By 2015, the small business cloud will be hot, a $50 billion market, Beloussov said at the conference. According to a Parallels report that was released at the conference, the cloud services market was valued at $10.6 billion in 2010 and is expected to increase to $28.6 billion this year, with almost $12 billion in infrastructure services.

"SMBs cloud consumption has hit the wide adoption curve and driving a sea change in the cloud industry," said Steen. SMBs with fewer than 100 employees account for over 80 percent of total cloud spending, according to the report.

SMBs are increasingly asking IT providers for cloud services. But most cloud giants, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, have not really focused on the small business market, said Beloussov.

Parallels announced Parallels Automation for Cloud Infrastructure to help service providers "extend their offerings to SMBs and become more profitable," said Steen. The API-based infrastructure is hypervisor-agnostic, supporting Microsoft's Hyper-V and its own virtualization platform. Support for VMware ESX is expected soon. Hyper-V-based clouds can be deployed automatically with a full set of tools to manage the virtual machines and offer self-service control panels.

Parallels is launching and supporting Hosted PBX for cloud-based voice-over-IP services. Parallels estimates that SMB hosted PBX will grow to $3.9 billion in the United States this year, said Steen. Parallels Automation would offer service providers provisioning and billing automation tools, making it easier to resell hosted PBX services or a unified communications suite, according to Steen.

Parallels will offer syndication services for Microsoft Online Services and Microsoft Office 365 cloud environments. Customers choosing the applications will receive it as part of their cloud environment with single-sign-on and unified billing. Parallels also expanded the suite of Microsoft products available to service providers, including Microsoft Exchange, Office Communications Server, and Dynamics CRM, the company said.

Beloussov will continue as executive chairman of the board, president and chief architect, focusing on strategy, innovation, alliances and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Parallels, Steen had been vice-president of small and medium business distribution at Microsoft.