Managed Services Leaders Research Cloud At Parallels Summit

Managed Services Leaders Research Cloud At Parallels Summit

When Parallels Chairman Serguei Beloussov (pictured) talks, a growing portion of the managed services industry is starting to listen. More than 1,000 channel partners -- including hosting providers and cloud services providers -- are attending this week's Parallels Summit 2011 in Orlando, Fla. If you look hard enough you'll find a healthy number of managed services experts -- folks like Autotask's Mark Crall and Ingram Micro's Renee Bergeron -- attending this year's event. The race, it seems, is on to find out how Parallels' rapidly growing partner ecosystem may converge with the managed services market.

What a difference a year makes. During Parallels Summit 2010, I met mainly with hosting providers that were introducing SaaS platforms. But this year, Parallels focused the conference on cloud computing in the SMB market. During a press briefing last night, Parallels Chairman Beloussov said the media and IT vendors were focused too heavily on enterprise cloud hype. Instead, it's time to help VARs and service providers to roll out cloud solutions to SMB customers, he added.

Apparently, the managed services industry got the message. During a Parallels Summit kick-off reception last night, I bumped into Mark Crall, Autotask’s executive director of business and community development. In recent months, Crall and Autotask Senior VP Jay McBain have been researching new vertical market opportunities and emerging IT communities that can bolster Autotask and its channel partners.

Perhaps the Parallels partner ecosystem is one such community. Parallels is a profitable, growing, $100 million company, notes Chairman Beloussov. The company develops automation software and management dashboards. Parallels' software helps service provides and VARs deploy and manage SaaS applications for SMB customers. Does that mean we'll see Parallels' software start to integrate with managed services and PSA (professional services automation) software? I don't know for sure. But MSPmentor will be watching...

Meanwhile, Ingram Micro VP of Managed Services and Cloud Computing Renee Bergeron is set to speak at Parallels Summit. It's safe to expect an update on the Ingram Micro Cloud portal -- which allows channel partners to research and embrace various third-party SaaS applications. Rival Tech Data, which uses Parallels' software in Europe, also is here. I suspect Tech Data is testing Parallels' software for a cloud computing channel initiative in North America.

Like I said: What a difference a year makes. Parallels Summit 2010 seemed to be designed for hosting providers. Fast forward to the present, and Parallels Summit 2011 has attracted quite a few MSP industry veterans who are researching cloud computing partner ecosystems. Aggressively.

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