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Parallels Unveils Major Investments in Microsoft Cloud

As cloud becomes more important to the Microsoft channel, Parallels is working under the hood to make cloud deployments smoother.

Parallels, a hosting and cloud services provisioning specialist, made a flurry of announcements at the start of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles this morning.

Two of the announcements relate to Microsoft Office 365, which Microsoft made generally available in 40 countries at the end of June and which figures to be a dominant theme at WPC this week.

In launching Office 365, Microsoft unveiled a new category of 20 syndication partners, who will package Office 365 cloud services with their own complementary or enhanced services.

Parallels announced that it is helping some of those partners bring their services to market faster with its flagship Parallels Automation product, which automates delivery, provisioning and billing of service delivery.

"Today, we're talking with about half of the Microsoft syndication partners with regards to how we can accelerate deployment and how we can create bundled" services around Office 365, says John Zanni, vice president of Service Provider Marketing and Alliances at Parallels.

Zanni, who followed current Parallels CEO Birger Steen from Microsoft to Parallels earlier this year, says the experience of partners who piloted syndication with the Business Productivity Online Suite highlighted the need for Parallels to offer an acceleration tool.

"With BPOS, the first syndicated partner took close to or a little more than a year. The next launch took equally as long," Zanni says. The Office 365-related service will also support the ability of the major syndication partners to quickly spin up multiple bundles and packages of Office 365 and their own services.

Parallels also announced tools to help the vast majority of Microsoft hosters and ISVs, who will not be able to syndicate Office 365 or handle customer billing with that Microsoft cloud service.

One is called Parallel Automation for Microsoft Services, which also automates delivery of Hyper-V Cloud, Exchange Server 2010 SP1 and SharePoint Foundation 2010. Zanni says support for Microsoft Lync Server is coming soon, as well.

According to a Parallels statement released today, "Service providers will be able to resell Microsoft offerings and increase the average revenue per user. With support for the n-tier resell business model, Parallels Automation allows system integrators and VARs to extend the range of Cloud services without investment in infrastructure."

The company also upgraded tools to help Microsoft ISVs package their software for delivery by Parallel's network of 5,000 cloud services provider partners. According to Parallels, 50 Microsoft ISV applications have been packaged and distributed already, and the company plans to spend $2 million to market and enable cloud delivery of ISV applications in the next 12 months.

Also today, Parallels and Microsoft announced a two-year strategic relationship to create a cloud automation solution for the health industry. The companies will jointly invest up to $5 million to create the solution, with the goal of spurring rapid growth worldwide in the use of cloud services by healthcare institutions and professionals.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 11, 2011