About how many wonderful discoveries we have
Parallels Cooking Here
And Citrix, a careless ignorant
disappear for a moment suddenly.


This article is a logical continuation of " Comparison of VDI and VPN " and is devoted to my deeper acquaintance with Parallels companies, primarily from their Parallels RAS product. I recommend reading the previous article to fully understand my position. It’s possible that for some readers my article may seem somewhat aggressive towards Parallels. But if aggressive marketing does not surprise us, then its constructive criticism should not surprise either. In this fact-finding article, we will focus on the market positioning of Parallels RAS.

Parallels, a bit of history


I believe that Parallels should be viewed from the perspective of its historical development. My acquaintance with the company occurred more than 10 years ago, due to the necessity at that time to use Windows 7 on MacOS using Parallels Desktop. I note that this acquisition really made my life easier. How much such a need still exists in 2020, and how many users buy a Mac to use Windows on it, I do not know. In this market segment, Parallels Desktop competes with VMware Fusion and a free Oracle product, VirtualBox. In the context of our story, the only interesting fact is the acquisition of Parallels by the 2X Software Maltese company in 2015. In 2018, Corel took over Parallels, which in no way affected its operations. In 2019, the parent company Corel ceased to exist as an independent, as it was acquired by the investment fund KKR .

If we consider only the portfolio of Parallels, we can see that all products except RAS (Remote Application Server) are aimed exclusively at users of computers running macOS, both private and corporate, and in this it is a clear leader. All further narration will be devoted exclusively to the Parallels RAS product.

I came across the creator of Parallels RAS, then 2X Software *, more than six years ago. At that time, I was interested in the manufacturers of MDM (Mobile Device Management). The first line of the About 2X Software * page began with the phrase “2X Software is a global leader in virtual application and mobile device management solutions.” I was somewhat dumbfounded by the courage of such a statement, assuming that there were two real leaders, AirWatch and MobileIron, I even had to read the Gartner Magic Quadrant - Unified Endpoint Management of that time. But 2X Software was not on the leaderboard, it was not at all in comparison with Gartner. I sincerely understand that if someone calls himself Napoleon, then he does not need to be convinced of the opposite, mercy must be shown to him. Maybe I'm wrong, but even in self-promotion you can’t really get so far off from reality. (* the company offered its customers two products: X2 RAS 2X MDM).

How popular is the product, how is it positioned, and what is its real market share?


Perhaps the discussion of market share is the most difficult question for any IT manufacturer, since there are no real methods of independent evaluation. This also applies to popularity. As an independent source, I propose to consider five reports created by the following organizations:

1. IDC (International Data Corporation) . In this case, we will consider and compare two reports:

  • IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Virtual Client Computing Software 2016 Vendor Assessment
  • IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Virtual Client Computing 2019 - 2020 Vendor Assessment

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The graphs clearly show that the position of Parallels over the past four years has undergone, from my point of view, significant changes, and, it seems to me, not in a positive direction.

In 2016, while in the Major Players group, Parallels came close to the leader group, but four years later Parallels lagged behind them, approaching the Contenders group. Is it a success?

2. VDI like a PRO. In this case, we are talking about a report created by three recognized experts in the field of EUC. The report is based on a survey of a fairly significant number of participants (2018 - 750, 2019 - 582, 2020 - 695):

  • State of the VDI and SBC union 2017 - Authors: Ruben Spruijt and Mark Plettenberg
  • End User Computing State of the Union 2018 - Authors: Ruben Spruijt and Mark Plettenberg
  • End User Computing State of the Union 2019 - Authors: Ruben Spruijt, Christiaan Brinkhoff and Mark Plettenberg
  • End User Computing State of the Union 2020 - Authors: Ruben Spruijt, Christiaan Brinkhoff and Mark Plettenberg

The following questions were asked during the survey:

  • 2018 - 2019 “What VDI solution is used in your local infrastructure?”
  • 2018 - 2019 “What SBC solution is currently deployed in your local infrastructure?”
  • 2020 What SBC and VDI solution are currently deployed in your local infrastructure?

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I believe that you as well as I am surprised how such a development became possible? How did Parallels achieve such amazing popularity in 2019 and drop to zero in 2020? To begin with, in 2019 Parallels was one of the sponsors of the report along with Bitdefender. The fact of sponsorship is not a problem in itself, but we will not confuse sponsorship with charity. Sponsorship involves the preservation of investments and their return in a different form. A little story from life. The wife of one of my friends opened a beauty salon, I was asked to positively note it on one of their social networks, which I did, of course, in a friendly way... After some time, the salon page had more than a significant amount of positive feedback.

As for the positioning of the product on the market, it is somewhat unusual. If you read the materials on the Parallels RAS page, you will probably be surprised by the constant one-sided comparisons of Parallels RAS with Citrix products. By the way, why Citrix, and not VMware? Maybe they see Citrix as the real market leader, which they are trying to equal?

If we turn to the above reports, it will be difficult not to notice another product occupying a leading position, namely VMware Horizon. Or is it that Parallels RAS is better than Citrix, but worse than VMware Horizon? And why doesn’t it explain why the Microsoft RDS client (the basis for CVAD, Horizon and Parallels RAS) generally needs an addition to the existing, usually small and low-cost RDS infrastructure? The existing comparison with Microsoft does not look convincing.

In order to explain what Citrix is, in the past I used a comparison with car tuning. So, to begin with, all of the above products perform the same basic task, namely transferring the image of the working screen (HSD/VDI) located in the data center to any user device. At the same time, the distance from the user to the data center should not adversely affect the quality of his work. Thus, it is the protocols for providing terminal access that are the key element. If we return to our comparison with car tuning, then Microsoft RDP is our good basic equipment (constantly improved with each new version), Citrix HDX or VMware Blast Extreme is our high-quality, serious tuning. If we talk about tuning, it can be very different. Full-fledged tuning changes the key basic parameters of the engine, chassis, brake system, etc. Such brands as, Brabus, Alpina, Carlsson can be considered serious tuning. And you can go to the workshop around the corner, and thus embellish the “basic equipment" for a relatively small amount.

Parallels RAS does not have its own data transfer protocol, but use the “basic package” of RDP.Parallels RAS is (based on my short and superficial acquaintance with the product), first of all, a more convenient and relatively easy to use RDS infrastructure management console, with the replacement of some components with your own. Although I cannot but admit that RDP is getting better, and communication channels are faster. Thus, the advantage of HDX/Blast Extreme over RDP ceases to be a critical argument.

About some bold statements


I believe that this article is not entirely suitable for a detailed discussion of the product architecture. Well, according to the statements on the official page, Parallels RAS is so simple and intuitive that a couple of minutes is enough to deploy it. “Installing and configuring Parallels RAS is simple and straightforward. "The default setup can create a fully functional environment in just a few minutes without requiring any training."
The question is, what kind of deployment are we talking about? Let's imagine that a potential customer has downloaded a test version, and decided to approach the product installation more seriously than “Next, Next, Finish” by choosing the “Custom” installation mode.

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Answer yourself one simple question, which components must be installed first? And remember, do you have a few minutes? Of course, I understand that this is all advertising, and other Parallels documents already talk about two or three weeks from PoC to Roll-Out. But should advertising be so different from reality?

The following diagram is an example of an architecture for 5,000 users, impressive, isn't it? As they say, there are not many good components.

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Conclusion


Parallels RAS is really a rather interesting solution, and it is really evolving, and additional new features are regularly added to it, but...

Dear colleagues, it may be worth more realistic to evaluate your product, and not try to unrestrainedly state the “undeniable” flaws of competitors' products, primarily Citrix, but describe realistic Use Cases?

I would also like to remind one more indisputable fact that for any major system integrator, it is important to offer the client a choice of several best solutions on the market, objectively presenting their advantages and disadvantages. Many customers limit their choice to the current leaders of Magic Qandrant, initially filtering out all the niche solutions.

I would be glad to know your experience in integrating the above product, if any.

Always welcome constructive comments.

To be continued...

P.S. It is interesting to work with colleagues from Parallels RAS to improve the quality of the material.

Source