Parallels Server for Mac 4 is optimized for Mac OS X

Parallels fills the niche market for small-business players running Snow Leopard and Windows 7 on Apple servers

What's the first thing that pops into your head when I say the word "virtualization"? I'd bet that most of you reading this would say, "VMware." The company didn't "invent" the technology, but VMware did bring virtualization to the x86 market and made it famous and fashionable in the 2000s. And no, it wasn't the only company trying to peddle virtualization wares in 2000, but it did become the technology's Kleenex and Xerox (at least to my mind) and grow into the 800-pound gorilla that keeps everyone talking.

But in 2009 and 2010 the virtualization competition really heated up, with big-name vendors entering into the mix like never before. Whether you are interested in virtualization or not, most technically savvy folks are well aware of companies in this space like Citrix, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and Red Hat. But some of those people might not know about a company called Parallels.

[ Find out about user virtualization solutions from AppSense. | And keep up to date on virtualization with InfoWorld's Virtualization channel. ]

The company is not new -- in fact, it is quite popular in the cloud and hosting market. Parallels has roots in another virtualization company called SWsoft (its once-upon-a-time parent company) which went back as far as the late 1990s and focused on containers. In 2008, SWsoft changed its name to Parallels and began merging and rebranding its product lines accordingly. The company has its corporate hands in everything from server, desktop, and operating system (containers) virtualization all the way up into automation of the cloud.

But Parallels may be most popular in the virtualization community for servicing what seems to be a fairly niche virtualization market -- the Apple Mac market. They fill this niche because Mac OS X appears to be the last major operating system to not have some form of integrated virtualization platform.

Last week Parallels launched a new version of Parallels Server for Mac, version 4.0. The company said version 4 would increase the speed and reliability of virtual environments for small businesses and claimed it is the only virtualization solution to be optimized for Mac OS X server (more than likely because of that whole "niche" thing). While the company does offer a bare-metal or Type 1 hypervisor for the Mac, this version is considered more "old school" and is what is known as a Type 2 hypervisor, meaning it must be installed on and operate on top of a host operating system platform -- in this case, Mac OS X.

Some of the new features available with 4.0 include:

  • Support for up to 12 virtual CPUs and 64GB of RAM per virtual machine
  • Guest support for Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard host support
  • Enhanced Parallels Tools to improve user experience and productivity
  • Apple xSAN support
  • Resource usage accounting
  • Full and incremental backups
  • Physical to virtual (P2V) and virtual to virtual (V2V) migration and conversion of virtual machines

The new product also adds integration with Parallels Virtual Automation to enable a single management system for a wide variety of virtual environments and hardware.

Available starting July 2, Parallels Server for Mac 4 pricing will start at $1,999. If you are an existing Parallels Server for Mac 3 customer with a maintenance contract, the upgrade is free. Those using version 3 without a maintenance contract will be offered a special limited offer for upgrading.

This article, "Parallels Server for Mac 4 is optimized for Mac OS X," was originally published at Read more of David Marshall's Virtualization Report blog and follow the latest developments in virtualization at