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Parallels Names Former Microsoft Exec CEO

Parallels, a virtualization, hosting and cloud service enablement company that has steered close to Microsoft in recent months, has just given partners more reasons to pay attention to the company. Parallels today said it has promoted former Microsoft executive Birger Steen to CEO.

Renton, Wash.-based Parallels had named Steen president in September when he joined the company from Microsoft. Founder and outgoing CEO Serguei Beloussov announced the promotion at the company's Parallels Summit in Orlando. Beloussov will continue in a full-time role as executive chairman and chief architect.

Steen, who left Microsoft as vice president of small and medium business and distribution, indicated in Orlando that SMB and channel partners would be a major focus for him at Parallels, as well. "I'm laser-focused on serving our customers and enabling our partners to quickly capitalize on the growing opportunities in cloud services for SMBs worldwide," Steen said in a statement.

Steen was one of two relatively high-profile Microsoft executives who moved to Parallels last fall; Microsoft hosting executive John Zanni also joined the company as a vice president of alliances.

One of Steen's earlier Microsoft positions -- that of general manager and vice president of Microsoft Russia from October 2004 to June 2009 -- affords him regional links to Beloussov, Parallels president of marketing and alliances Jack Zubarov, and other senior Parallels executives with roots in Russia.

In addition to naming Steen, Parallels rolled out a number of products and initiatives involving the Microsoft ecosystem.

The company expanded its portfolio of Microsoft products supported by Parallels Automation to include System Center Hyper-V. Parallels Automation is designed to allow hosters to automate aspects of offering, delivering, managing and billing their services, making it easier to set up multi-tier reseller channels. Hyper-V joins Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications Server, Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Online Services.

Parallels also announced Wednesday its plans to automate provisioning, billing and service plan creation for Microsoft Office 365 when Microsoft's upgrade to the Business Productivity Online Suite becomes available. Microsoft is expected to release Office 365 this summer.

Other announcements Wednesday included Parallels Automation for Cloud Infrastructure, aimed at giving Parallels cloud partners an offering competitive with Amazon Web Services; a hosted PBX offering; and increased investment in Parallels' Application Packaging Standard for integrating applications into cloud delivery systems.

While Parallels is privately held, with investments from Intel Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Insight Venture Partners and Almaz Capital Partners, company executives say the firm is profitable and generates more than $100 million in revenue. Parallels has about 800 employees in North America, Europe and Asia.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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