Exploring Microsoft Windows 8: Search Functionality

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is bringing some of the most radical changes to the OS since Windows 95.  Our own Chris Ward gave a great preview of what’s to come, and I’d like to focus on some of the baked-in features which have received a complete overhaul.  It’s very clear that not only is Microsoft improving the functionality & performance of the OS (what can it do & how fast does it do it), but they are also paying extremely close attention to usability (how easy is it to use).  And this feat is made all the more complicated because not only do they need to focus on the classic desktop, which we’ve come to know & love, but they now must also consider the experience of someone using a tablet which is a dramatically different way to navigate around the operating system.  This is the first part in a series of discussions around the features of Windows 8, some old, some new.

SMB Cloud Services in Emerging Markets Poised for Explosive Growth


Parallels research shows the cloud services market in the developing world is growing over three times as fast as that of the developed world. In our Parallels SMB Cloud Insights Report, we modeled the 2011 global SMB market and estimated it to be $34 billion. 


Need more proof? Business Today reports cloud computing will create two million new jobs in India alone by 2015. And here’s a look from ESDS at 24 countries prepared for business in cloud computing. Clearly, these emerging markets are poised for massive expansion.





According to Parallels research, more than 60% of the growth in web hosting will come from emerging markets in the next three years, and the worldwide SaaS market will grow to $20 billion by 2014. While these forecasts are dramatic, cloud adoption could be growing even faster.  BSA recently published a study of 24 countries that together account for 80% of the world’s information and communications technology, and it found that cloud computing in developing countries often lags behind because of weak privacy and data protection laws, as well as poor infrastructure.


Moreover, government and legal regulations are holding up cloud services in developing nations like India, where there are few protections in place to prevent Internet intermediaries or service providers from seizing data at will. But these issues are being addressed, meaning there still exists is tremendous potential in emerging markets.


Parallels research shows that less than 40% of SMBs in developing countries have a company website, making new adopters seeking basic web presence a primary opportunity. Micro and small SMBs in these countries have shown a strong willingness to adapt, as 35% plan to add a third-party web hosting plan in the next three years. Service providers can help encourage this move to the cloud by educating SMBs about the features and benefits of cloud services.  And many of these same firms will never buy a server as well.


For more information, watch Parallels CEO Birger Steen’s Q&A from Ask the Experts at Parallels Summit 2012, and download our Parallels SMB Cloud Insights Report.


In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing on this blog a five-part series with even more insights from Parallels continuous SMB Cloud Insights research exploring areas such as hosted infrastructure, web presence, hosted communication and collaboration, business applications, and more.


What Should I Do about Cloud?

The word of the day is “Cloud.” Nearly every software and hardware vendor out there has a product and shiny marketing to help their customers go “to the cloud.” Every IT trade rag has seemingly unique, seemingly agnostic advice on how their audience can take advantage of cloud computing. Standards bodies have published authoritative descriptions of cloud computing models. If you’re an IT decision maker or influencer, you’re in luck! Many reputable players in the industry have published reams of information to help you on your journey to take advantage of cloud computing. Pick your poison… Public, Private, Hybrid, Community, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS… even XaaS (anything as a service!). On-premises, off-premises… or even “on-premise” if you want!

Starting with an on-premises private cloud of your own seems like a sensible choice. A cloud environment of your own, that you can keep cool and dry inside of your own datacenter. Architects can design and build it with the components of their choice, management can have the control that they’re used to, and administrators can manage it alongside every other system. Security issues can be handled deftly by your consultant or cloud-champion – after all, your cloud is internal and private!

Another perspective is to skip out on a cloud strategy, forgo some early benefits, and wait for all of the chips to fall before making any investments. This is the respectable “do nothing” alternative, and it’s a valid one.

Yet another perspective is to take a close look at cloud concepts and prepare your company to act, when appropriate. Prepare, act, appropriate time. Sounds like a strategy brewing.

Parallels Cloud Services Webinar for Service Providers – April 10, 2012


Register Now! for the April 10th  Parallels Cloud Services Webinar for Service Providers

8:00 AM, Pacific Standard Time (GMT-08:00, Seattle)


Cloud Services Providers should attend this webinar to hear directly from leading application and hosted services vendors who can help you profit by offering the most in-demand applications to small and medium business customers. This is a great opportunity for service providers to learn how to easily market and sell high-demand commercial applications and services, and how Parallels can help providers of any size be successful in increasing ARPU and reducing customer churn.


This month’s scheduled presentations include:


Google – How you can Increase ARPU & Reduce Churn with Google Apps, Jeff Ragusa, Google Apps SMB Channel Lead

Jelastic – The PaaS for Hosters “Rock-Solid Java in the Cloud”, Judah Johns, Chief Evangelist

SiteLock – Your Partner in Cloud Security,  Neill Feather, President

Asigra – How to Deliver a Profitable Cloud Backup Service, Eran Farajun, Executive Vice President


Register Now! for the April 10th  Parallels Cloud Services Webinar for Service Providers

News Round-up 4/7/2012: Cloudy SaaS Apps, Dell Buys Wyse, 5 Cloud Trends, and Nginx Gains Against Apache



There have been some exciting announcements and fascinating news articles recently regarding cloud services and service providers. Every week we will round up the most interesting topics from around the globe and consolidate them into a weekly summary.



Cloudy SaaS Apps To Puff Up To $14.5 Billion

A decade of use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in enterprise markets has led to significant growth and evolution. Gartner expects the SaaS market to rise to 14.5 billion in 2012 and continue to grow to 22.1 billion by 2015.


Dell Buys Wyse Technology to Expand Cloud Offerings

Dell enhances their portfolio through the acquisition Wyse Technology, a privately held cloud computing and desktop technology firm. 

€1.2m for Cloud Computing Research

The Irish Government invested 1.2 million Euros in cloud computing research. Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, states the program should make Ireland a world leader in cloud computing, create jobs and boost the economy.


Gartner Outlines Five Cloud Computing Trends That Will Affect Cloud Strategy Through 2015

Essential reading from research specialists, Gartner, who deliver great advice for forward thinking organizations. 


In an Exploding Web Market, Nginx Gaining Against Apache

Nginx continues to gain among web servers, picking up 4.5 million sites. More than 10% of the busiest sites now use Nginx.


Also in the news:

The Government Doesn’t Want to Mess Up on Big Data

Amazon Posts Huge S3 Storage Gains

Building Trust Between Cloud Computing Providers and Suppliers

Case Study: Hosting provider PacHosting makes move into SaaS arena with Parallels Automation and APS


This case study is part of series conducted by Parallels that examines how Parallels partners are optimally using our products.  For a complete copy, click here [PDF].


Partner Summary


Pacificnet Hosting Limited (PacHosting) was established in January 2002 and has since grown to become one of the leading hosting service providers in Hong Kong. It is focused on providing easy-to-use, effective and reliable online business solutions and the latest information technologies to help businesses gain a competitive advantage on the web.


Over the years, the company has built up a strong portfolio of solutions which include Web Hosting, Email Hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), Cloud Servers and Hosted Exchange 2010 for small to large corporations.


Business Situation


To further strengthen its position in the market, PacHosting sought to capitalize on emerging opportunities, particularly in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space, to broaden its portfolio and deliver greater value to its customers. 


In order to achieve this in an efficient and cost-effective manner, PacHosting needed to find a way to reduce time-to-market for the new services while grappling with the problem of IT skills shortage in the Hong Kong market.




To address these challenges, PacHosting decided to utilize the Application Packaging Standard (APS) capabilities of Parallels Automation, which it had deployed in 2010 to address its requirements for end-to-end automation. 


Parallels Business Automation allows the hosting provider to automate functions such as ordering, account management, billing, invoicing, promotions and customer relationship management, while Parallels Operations Automations helps take care of back office operations such as server infrastructure provisioning, management of service plans and the monitoring of resource usage and server health. 


With APS, PacHosting can now go one step further and easily configure applications for seamless integration into cloud delivery systems. APS is a set of specifications that simplifies the delivery of SaaS applications by packaging them in a standard format. Designed from ground-up to address the requirements of SaaS and cloud computing – such as full automation and delegated administration – APS covers provisioning, management, and integration of cloud-based services and applications. 


With built-in support for APS, Parallels Automation enables PacHosting to offer APS-certified applications without having to spend time and money developing special control panels or writing custom code to integrate the applications into its service infrastructure.


APS already works with hundreds of key applications that are available in the market. Many third-party application vendors are also working with Parallels to create APS-compliant SaaS applications based on Parallels technologies and products. These include applications for collaboration, content management, customer relationship management, online backup, and more.




With APS, PacHosting has been able to create new revenue opportunities in the SaaS space, reduce time-to-market for its new software services and reduce its reliance on technical expertise which is in short supply in Hong Kong. 


Creation of new revenue opportunities


The APS support that is built into Parallels Automation has enabled PacHosting to go beyond its traditional offerings such as pure web hosting and VPS, to introduce new revenue opportunities based on the SaaS model. There are currently over 300 APS-ready applications listed on Parallels’ web site which PacHosting can easily package and configure as new service offerings for its customers.


Adding SaaS to the product mix allowed PacHosting to increase revenue in a number of ways. SaaS applications allowed them to create new product bundles that rounded out existing offers. Consequently, average revenue per user has risen. Also, PacHosting has been able to go back to their existing customers with new offers and new opportunities to engage their customer.


From the customer’s perspective, these SaaS applications give them access to useful business applications without the need for high up-front capital investments or to worry about ongoing software upgrades, maintenance and support. 


Reduced time-to-market


APS helps PacHosting to reduce time-to-market for its new SaaS offerings by allowing applications to be packaged for delivery as cloud services in a matter of days. “APS enables us to launch a new cloud service within one or two weeks, even if we factor in the time needed to procure and provision the necessary hardware resources and to test the application. Previously, in order to deploy software into a cloud or shared hosting environment, custom code or special control panels had to be developed for each application. The process could take weeks or even months,” said Natalie Kong, Business Analyst, Pacificnet Hosting Limited.


Rapid ramp-up of services


With APS, enabling an application for the cloud environment involves a one-time effort, after which the service can be delivered to multiple customers. This eliminates the need to write custom code for each deployment and allows the service to be rolled out quickly to a large number of users.



The Taxonomy of IT – Part 4: Order and Family

The Order level of IT classification builds upon the previous Kingdom, Phylum and Class levels. In biology, Order is used to further group like organisms by traits that define their nature or character. In the Mammalia Class, Orders include Primates, Carnivora, Insectivora, and Cetacea. Carnivora is pretty self-explanatory and includes a wide range of animal species. However, Cetacea is restricted to whales, dolphins and porpoises and indicates more of an evolutionary development path that is consistent between them.

In IT, the concept of what we consume and how we got to that consumption model correlates to the concept of Order. So, Order focuses on how IT is consumed and why it’s consumed that way.

Business needs drive IT models, and as business needs change so does the way we leverage IT. An organization may have started out with a traditional on-premise solution that met all needs, and over time has morphed into a hybrid solution of internal and external resources. Likewise, the way users consume IT changes over time. This may be due to underlying business change, or possibly due to “generational” changes in the workforce. In either case, where IT is today does not always reflect its true nature.

Using consumption as a metric, we can group IT environments to bring to light how they have evolved, and expose their future needs. Some examples of different Orders might be:

Contra-Private – IT is mostly a private resource and is not specifically consumption driven. The IT organization uses their own internalized set of standards in order to identify the technical direction of the platforms. Shunning industry standards and trends, they often take a less-is-more approach to the tools and services they provide to the business. Ironically, their platforms tend to be oversized and underutilized.

Mandatorily-Mixed – here IT leverages a mix of internal, external, hard-built and truly consumed resources because the business demands it. IT may have less power to make foundational decisions or affect policy, but they typically will be better funded and be encouraged to work with outside groups. Often the internal/external moat is drawn around the LOB application stack, and these tend to be overly scaled.

Scale-Sourced – In this Order, IT would be incented to make efficiency and flexibility their guiding principles for decision-making. The business allows IT to determine use of and integration with outside services and solutions and relies on them to make the intelligent decisions. This Order is also user driven, with the ability to adopt new services and policies that drive user effectiveness.

The Family classification is the first real grouping of organisms where their external appearance is the primary factor. Oddly, what is probably the most visually apparent comes this deep in the classification model. Similarly within IT, we can now start grouping environments by their IT “appearance,” or more fundamentally, their core framework.

If you dissect a Honey Badger, it would probably be evident that it’s very much like other animals in the weasel family. It’s overall shape and proportions are similar to other weasels, from the smallest Least weasel to the largest Wolverine. So size is not the factor here, what is more important is the structure, and what type of lifestyle that structure has evolved to support. Therefore, in IT, Family refers to the core structure of data flow within IT systems.

Here are some examples:

Linear – IT is built along a pathway that conforms to a linear work flow. Systems are built to address specific point functions such as marketing, financials, manufacturing, etc. Each system has a definitive start and stop point, with end to end integration only. Input/output is translated between them, often by duplicated entry, scripted processes, or 3rd party translation. One function cannot begin until another has completed, thus creating a chain of potential break-points and inefficiencies.

Parallel – Workstreams can be completed concurrently, with some form of data-mashing at the end of each function. While this structure allows for users to work without waiting on others to complete their functions, it does require additional effort to combine the streams at the end.

Linked – Here, systems are linked at key intersections of workflow. Data crosses these intersections in a controlled and orderly fashion. Often, the data conversions are transparent or at least simplified. The efficiency level is increased, as dynamic information can be utilized by more than one person, however the complexities of this approach are often fraught with underlying dangers and support challenges.

Mobius – If you know the form of a Mobius strip, you get the idea here. In this form, it doesn’t matter what side of the workflow you are on, everything flows without interruption or collision. If this is delivered by more than one integrated system, then the integration is well tested and supported by all parties involved. More likely, this form is enabled by a singular system that receives, correlates, and forwards the data along its merry way.

Both the Order and Family are where we start to see the benefits of a Cloud IT architecture. Built to specification, consumed in a flexible, on-demand way, and enabling the true flow of information across all required systems may sound like nirvana. But, consider that our limiting factor in achieving this goal is not technology per se, but our ability to visualize and accept it.

Case Study: KT creates new revenue model with cloud services powered by Parallels Automation


This case study is part of series conducted by Parallels that examines how Parallels partners are optimally using our products.  For a complete copy, click here [PDF].

Partner Summary


KT is Korea’s largest communication service provider, delivering voice and data, fixed and mobile, and communication and broadcasting services. In 2010, it also formed a new division to deliver colocation and managed hosting services out of KT’s Internet Data Center and to look into cloud computing as a strategic new business for the company. 


Business Situation


In recent years, competition from a new breed of internet-based voice providers such as Google Voice and Skype has been putting pressure on traditional voice revenues for telecommunication services providers such as KT.


In response, KT announced in 2010 that cloud computing would be a major new business model for the company and unveiled the “ucloud” brand for its cloud services. The next challenge was to quickly put into place the capability to deliver cloud-based software and infrastructure services to customers in Korea, in particular over 3 million small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country.




In September 2011, KT made the decision to adopt Parallels Automation (PA), which would enable it to rapidly deploy cloud services to SMBs efficiently and cost-effectively.


Parallels Automation consists of two core systems – Parallels Operations Automation and Parallels Business Automation. In addition to these core systems, specific PA modules are also deployed depending on the services being offered.


Parallels Operations Automation provides end-to-end automation for cloud services provisioning, server and application management, service plan creation and management, end user self-service, and reseller management. Parallels Business Automation simplifies end user ordering, account management, billing, billing system integration, invoicing, and trouble ticketing. 


With Parallels Automation as its service delivery platform, KT can easily extend its service portfolio with offerings such as ucloud backup and ucloud storage. 


To address Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) opportunities, the Parallels Automation SaaS module enables KT to automate application deployment, updating, and recurring billing, so that it can quickly and easily offer SMBs a broad choice of open source and licensed commercial SaaS applications.


For example, KT has been appointed the sole syndication partner for Microsoft Office 365 in Korea, and using PA enables the company to rapidly provision and deliver the Office 365 suite of services to its customers and channel partners. With Parallels Automation, KT can also create a customized marketplace of hundreds of SaaS applications from leading independent software vendors, which can then be delivered by its channel and resell partners through their own white-labeled stores.




The deployment of the Parallels Automation platform is critical in helping KT achieve its leadership position in the cloud and to strengthen its IaaS and SaaS offerings.


Creates new revenue streams


Parallels Automation enables KT to offer SMBs enterprise-class applications with subscription plans that scale from individuals to thousands of end users. These applications can generate net new customers, as well as increase both average revenue per user (ARPU) and customer retention, as customers rely on KT for additional value added services.


“There are a number of SMB customers in Korea who have been waiting for critical business applications that are easy to subscribe to with no upfront costs. Being small and nimble, they do not want to worry about updates and software maintenance,” said Hyeon Kyu Lee, vice president, Advanced Platform & Software Business Center of KT. “Parallels Automation enables KT to address this critical business need, and takes it a step further by enabling our reseller partners to offer their own independent private label cloud storefronts.” 


Reduces time to market


The Parallels SaaS module helps KT bring new applications and cloud services to market quickly. It comes with a go-to-market kit that includes service plan templates and messaging directed at SMBs, plus control panels that simplify support by letting KT delegate control to end users.


“Our customers are looking forward to leveraging products in the cloud from the likes of Microsoft, and our partnership with Parallels enables us to quickly implement a solution that delivers swift provisioning and billing of the Office 365 platform,” said Lee.


Case Study: Leading Australian web hosting provider Net Logistics builds up new revenue streams with Parallels Plesk Panel and Parallels Virtuozzo Containers


This case study is part of series conducted by Parallels that examines how Parallels partners are optimally using our products.  For a complete copy, click here [PDF].


Partner Summary 


Net Logistics is a leading web hosting service provider in Australia with over 6,000 customers. It offers flexible, easy-to-use and affordable solutions tailored to companies ranging from small businesses to large enterprises.


Net Logistics started out by providing shared hosting services, then organically expanded into reseller hosting and then to Virtual Private Server (VPS) and dedicated server hosting as customers demanded more of such services. Today, 60 per cent of its revenues come from VPS/dedicated servers. Another key segment is the developer and reseller market for white label offerings, which today makes up about 30 per cent of its customer base.


Customer support, both pre-sales and post-sales, is a key focus for Net Logistics, said Joseph Salim, Business Development Manager. The company has about 50 employees, with over 20 involved in back-end support. One of its core value propositions is the fact that it has its “hands on the ground”, providing customers with direct access to technical expertise within the company. This has helped strengthen the company’s reputation for customer support excellence, with high positive ratings in forums such as Whirlpool.


Business Situation


In 2008, the commoditization of shared hosting led to lower profitability for this segment of the business and presented a significant business challenge to Net Logistics. In response to this, the company began looking into opportunities in the reseller hosting market as well as the VPS and dedicated server hosting market where it could differentiate itself with customized managed services. At the same time, the company also sought to increase its average revenue per user (ARPU) by providing scalable solutions to its customer base. 


“VPS was identified as a key part of Net Logistics’ strategy to move upstream. As we moved up the hosting value chain, it was also imperative for us to maintain or even enhance our customer support standards, and continue to provide customers with fast resolution of any issues that they may encounter,” said Karthick Rajendran, Managing Director, Net Logistics.


Net Logistics also had to rein in operating costs and to adopt a more environmentally friendly approach to doing business. In particular, it was looking to optimize the use of its infrastructure in order to reduce power consumption, which is a relatively high cost component from both the monetary as well as the environmental perspective.




To address these business challenges, Net Logistics was looking to deploy a server control panel and automation solution together with a virtualization tool that would enable it to manage its infrastructure and provision upstream services more efficiently. After evaluating several options, it decided to go with Parallels Plesk Panel and Parallels Virtuozzo Containers (PVC). 


“We chose Parallels for its depth of experience in delivering solutions finely tuned to the needs of a hosting business model,” said Salim. 


While Net Logistics also evaluated virtualization solutions such as Xen and VMware, it decided on PVC because of its seamless integration with Parallels Plesk Panel. This integration would make it easier for Net Logistics to manage and monetize its infrastructure. Said Salim, “One of the best reasons for working with Parallels is the total stack of products that helps us to configure and bundle products. There is one vendor to work with unlike with Xen or VMware. This makes it simpler and easier to do business.” 


Parallels Plesk Panel is a sophisticated control panel tool which assists Net Logistics in web hosting account and server management. It includes complete, cost-effective control panel technologies designed for hosting accounts as well as for reseller, VPS and dedicated server platforms. Complementing the deployment of Parallels Plesk Panel is the PVC virtualization software which enables Net Logistics to offer greater support efficiency and implement effective backup solutions in mission-critical environments.


In Parallels, Net Logistics also found a partner with a common approach towards customer service and support. This synergy gave Net Logistics added confidence in going with Parallels Plesk Panel and PVC. “We need to be able to trust the vendor to provide support when needed,” said Salim. “With Parallels, support becomes much easier. We know that we can escalate any issue and have it resolved very quickly.” 




The deployment of the Parallels Plesk Panel and PVC has enabled Net Logistics to deliver intuitive hosting services to the Australian market efficiently and cost-effectively.


Introduction of new revenue streams


With the deployment of Parallels Plesk Panel, Net Logistics is now able to deliver profitable services easily and offer its customers a quick and easy way to create and manage web sites as well as server resources. It has enabled Net Logistics to grow its VPS business from scratch three years ago, to make up 40 per cent of its customer base today. 


“Over the past 12 months, 60 per cent of all new customers have been buying VPS,” said Salim. Parallels has also helped Net Logistics to create greater awareness of its offerings, by providing it with opportunities to participate in events such as the Parallels APAC Summit and the global Parallels Summit. 


Enhanced customer support 


With Parallels Plesk Panel providing reliable administrative support for wide range of web hosting scenarios, Net Logistics has been able to provide better customer support without having to incur high manpower overhead.


“Parallels Plesk Panel provides a powerful, impressive solution to ease hosting account administration across the full range of shared, reseller, VPS and even dedicated solutions. We are now able to offer our current and prospective customers better management and higher reliability as well as being cost effective and highly profitable,” said Salim. 


Reduced costs


Net Logistics has deployed PVC to virtualize its entire infrastructure, including its dedicated servers. This has resulted in an estimated 30 per cent savings in power consumption. 


“Power consumption is a significant cost component in our operations. The deployment of PVC to virtualize our infrastructure addresses this by allowing us to make more efficient use of our infrastructure resources, thereby reducing power consumption and enabling us to adopt a more environmentally sustainable approach to doing business,” said Trung Nguyen, Finance Director, Net Logistics. 


At the same time, Parallels Plesk Panel comes with an easy-to-use and powerful management tool that reduces the need for Net Logistics to deploy costly manpower to optimize and manage its IT infrastructure, for example, to handle tasks such as patch management.