I almost missed Parallels' announcement of Parallels Server for Mac. I didn't speak with company representatives. All I saw was a press release. It was nearly lost in a huge pile of other mail in my inbox.
Although there are several virtual machine software products that support Mac OS X client machines (VMware's Fusion and Parallels own Parallels Desktop for Mac quickly come to mind), to the best of my knowledge, Parallels Server for Mac is the only virtual machine software product that targets Apple's Mac OS-based servers. Although the market for this product is relatively small when compared to the share held by other industry standard servers, it is important.
Here's what Parallels had to say about Parallels Server for Mac
Parallels announced today that Parallels Server for Mac, the world’s first server virtualization solution for Intel-powered Apple systems, is now available. Parallels Server for Mac is a powerful and easy-to-use hypervisor solution for server virtualization that provides a great value for cost conscious organizations seeking to standardize and optimize their IT infrastructures. It can run on any Intel-powered Apple hardware, including the Xserve and Mac Pro, running OS X Leopard Server and comes to market after a successful worldwide beta testing program involving Mac, Windows and Linux server professionals.
Here's what Parallels Server for Mac doesHere's how Parallels describes the features of their new product:
Parallels Server includes a wide range of enterprise-class features, such as:
- Virtual Support for 4-way Symmetric Multi-processing (SMP), which lets users assign up to 4 virtual cores to a virtual machine for exceptional performance under heavy workloads. 2-way SMP is also supported, giving users an unsurpassed level of virtual machine customization.
- The inclusion of key next-generation technologies such as an ACPI BIOS, and support for up to 32GB of physical RAM.
- Support for Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel VT-x) technologies to take full advantage of hardware-assisted acceleration.
- A fully Scriptable Multi-client Parallels Management Console that lets users manages virtual and physical servers locally and remotely. The Parallels Management Console’s APIs are completely open and scriptable with Python, enabling administrators to automate common server tasks straight from the command line.
- An Integrated Toolset that enhances and simplifies the user experience. The toolset includes: Parallels Tools, a set of helpful utilities that make working with virtual servers easier and more productive; Parallels Transporter, a built-in, assistant driven physical to virtual (P2V) and virtual to virtual (V2V) migration tool; and the Parallels Image Tool, which lets users modify settings of their virtual hard disk.
- The ability to run any combination of more than 50 different x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit) guest operating systems, including the just released Windows Server 2008 in secure, high-performing virtual machines.
- A Powerful SDK that enables third party vendors to integrate Parallels Server support into their products. The SDK is the same one used by Parallels engineers to build the Parallels Management Console.
A full list of features and specifications is available at www.parallels.com/server.
Snapshot AnalysisWhen one considers the world of server operating environments, what IDC calls SOE's, Mac OS is typically burried in the "other" category of any report. Apple, by moving from their own Mac OS kernel to BSD Unix, found themselves moved from their own category, Mac OS, in IDC's research to just being one of the guys at the UNIX party. So, they had to face down folks like HP, IBM, Sun and a host of other UNIX varients when it came to both the race for revenues, shipments and market share. Consequently, the importance of Mac OS as a SOE appeared to diminish in the minds of some developers.
Mac OS, while having a small share of the overall UNIX SOE market, is important to many in the research, government and academic vertical markets. Those who use it, are almost religious in their praise of the power, ease of use, and reliability of both Apple's server products and the Mac OS operating system
It is clear that Parallels sees this market as an opportunity to differentiate itself from others offering virtual machine software. That being said, success on this platform may not help Parallels achieve broader market penetration in other areas. The folks living in the Windows, Linux and UNIX communities seldom listen to their Mac Server counterparts.