SWsoft* has just issued an announcement that it has changed its name to Parallels. It is not at all uncommon for a company having a successful product, such as Parallels, a virtual machine software product, to take on the name of that product in the hopes of building stronger awareness for their entire product portfolio. Although making moves of this nature can be risky, it may be a good move in this case.
Review of SWsoft/ParallelsSWsoft has been known in the hosting market for several types of virtualization and management software for virtualized environments. That success has not brought along with it a strong brand in the consumer market or in the business software markets. As a quick review, here's a list of SWsoft's products:
- Parallels - virtual machine software that is available for Linux, Mac OS and Windows. SWsoft acquired this company a number of years ago.
- Virtuozzo - operating system virtualization/partitioning software available for Windows and Linux
- Plesk - control panel software often used by hosting companies to simplify management and administration tasks
- SiteBuilder - software making it easy to create and manage websites
- HSPcomplete - integrated billing and hosting automation software (works with Plesk, SiteBuilder and Virtuozzo)
- PEM - Datacenter automation and billing software allowing hosting companies to offer customized, self-service plans
- ConFixx - control panel software for German-speaking countries.
- Ensim Pro - single server hosting automation and control software
- SWsoft has also acquired several companies who offer software or services in the hosting market. The current list of acquistions include Parallels, Positive Software and Sphera
Snapshot AnalysisAs you can see from the product list, the majority of the products are designed to help hosting companies or service providers. Two of the company's software products, Parallels, and to a much smaller level, Virtuozzo, have pushed the company into a broader market. It appears that SWsoft wanted to hitch a ride on the consumer and business software markets rather than the market for hosting/service provider software without abandoning that market. Strengths - The company is known for developing innovative, efficient and powerful tools for the hosting/service provider market. The company knows that many organizations that are currently deploying virtual machine software would be much better served by using operating system virtualization/partitioning software instead. The success of Parallels virtual machine software is certainly increasing the level of awareness in consumer and business software marketplaces.
Weaknesses - Although Parallels has gotten a great deal of public attention, SWSoft's primary products, the software for hosting companies/service providers, are not as well known. They've not been able to gather broad attention for many of their other software products. I suspect this can be attributed to the fact that they've specialized in low level infrastructure software rather than tools seen by the public. An analogy can be found in the automotive market. How many people know the band of fuel injection that's being used to make their vehicles fast and efficient? Winning over automotive company engineers doesn't always translate to public awareness.
Opportunities - Almost every analyst I chat with believes that the market for virtualization technology is on a fast track and they expect to see significant growth in the coming years. SWsoft/Parallels wants to be a significant player and grow rapidly as well. There's no doubt that they have the technical expertise to be a strong player. Creating a well known brand is a new challenge.
hreats - Who competes with Parallels/SWsoft? Well, just about everyone in the virtualization software market. It depends upon which part of the company's business one is examining. The long list includes VMware, Citrix/XenSource, Microsoft, Virtual Iron, Qumranet, Red Hat, Novell/SUSE, cPanel and several others.
It is clear that the name "Parallels" has gotten quite a bit of positive media attention. While that attention should help the company thrust itself onto the world stage, it remains to be seen if a new name will increase its levels of success with its hosting/service provider software. I suspect that if they do invest in marketing, that they can pull this off.
* disclaimer: SWsoft is a Kusnetzky Group client