Application Containers, and more, in an RDS based world.

I was supposed to write about this yesterday but if any of you follow the news in this particular little industry, yesterday Citrix changed its CEO for the fourth time since 2015 and thanks to that, I had to delay this post a bit (before you ask, I will write a dedicated post about the CEO change and why I do believe this changes nothing regarding their downhill trend but more on that later).

At the same time, exactly on the same day, Parallels just announced their latest release, RAS v16 and with it, some impressive goodies IMHO. To the point that in this ‘me-too’ space that EUC has become, I think this is one of the most refreshing ideas in quite some time.

And before any of you say this has been around for long, the reality is no vendor took matters in their own hands and integrated something like this to their stack. Customers want to buy things that work out-of-the-box and that do not require several third party add-ons and money to work. This is the case here.

Parallels and Turbo decided to join forces and the result is now available to anyone. Containerized applications built-in to the RAS product. This gives administrators instant access to thousands of applications readily available and more than that, at zero cost, while severely reducing application installs, siloing and so on.

For example you can build a server for management purposes with vSphere clients, Citrix XenCenter, Putty, WinSCP, Chrome, etc in a matter of seconds, without installing a single application and all running within their own containers.

This video shows how this is done on the server side:

The next step is to get the client configured to simply connect to this particular farm I created for this demo:

As you can see, it does not get easier than that. Dead simple and as I mentioned, all built-in.

Thinking about the future, what else should be possible?

  • Access to the Turbo repository using your own subscription so you get access to all the apps you packaged yourself.
  • Access to TurboServer, the on-premises product.
  • Ability to flag containerized applications as ‘Available Offline’. In this case, if the endpoint is a PC, these containers could be easily copied locally and users would launch these using the locally installed Turbo runtime. If it is a Mac, remember that Parallels owns Parallels Desktop so this could be easily integrated so the containers show up on your Mac as apps coming from your Parallels Desktop VM!
  • Using UPD to store the containers. I am not 100% sure about this one. As of today, if you also have not noticed, Parallels RAS is the first product on the market to also support Microsoft User Profile Disks (UPDs) out of the box. It is right there on their console:
UPD Support – Parallels RAS v16
  • With UPDs, I wonder if you would be able to attach these to VDI VMs and RDSHs… Interesting idea…

The bottom line for me is simple. I do see these little things as great and as mentioned, refreshing. At the end of the day we all benefit from simplicity.

Now to that post about the CEO. Hopefully the new one is still there by the time I click ‘Publish’.




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Parallels acquires 2X. A deeper analysis.

As you probably know by now, Parallels Inc. has acquired 2X Software Ltd, one of the smaller players in the VDI/SBC space, in case you did not know that.

Like Brian, I always have a soft spot for the smaller vendors out there like 2X and Thinspace for the simple reason I truly believe there is no perfect product for all the use cases out there. What I do believe is using the right tool for the task and in many environments we ended up using Thinspace and 2X as Citrix was indeed overkill and the customer needed a little bit more than plain RDS.

If you were not even aware of these smaller vendors I highly recommend you to watch my BriForum 2014 Boston presentation. Main problem is I have no clue where Brian and Gabe put it. So please head over to and ask them where it is.

To make your life a little easier I will just mention the usual small vendors we deal with:

2X itself is probably the one I have the softest spot for. The reason for that is back in 2005 2X acquired my own Terminal-Services.NET and all the Windows intellectual property we had became what is known today as the 2X Remote Application Server and the 2X LoadBalancer. No matter what Alex (yes, that guy that organizes the most disorganized and shittiest IT conference for alcoholics – E2EVC) tells you, the products were good, reason why customers like Hilton Hotels and John Deere used them… So I do know these products well.

Back to the topic, there is more to this acquisition and let me explain why.

First of all, pretty much everyone that has a Mac is aware of Parallels. They were the first company to release a decent type-2 hypervisor for OSX so you could run Windows VMs on your Mac, something that probably 90% of all Mac users out there do on a daily basis. Sure VMware later joined the party with VMware Fusion but Parallels was always perceived as the leader on this space. At least based on my own tests (I have both products) Parallels was always better on the graphics department and faster in general. Things may have changed with the latest and greatest releases though. The point here is not who is the best but the simply fact Parallels is a well known brand with regular people, end-users and IT geeks.

Then Parallels released Parallels Access, a solution to allow you to remotely access your Mac/PC, like many other products on the market (i.e. GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, etc). Difference is they pretty much nailed the whole translation of a desktop GUI to a mobile/tablet device GUI making accessing desktop apps on any device a much easier thing. If you have no clue what I am talking about, take a look at their YouTube channel.

Finally there is the Parallels most people are not aware of. The company behind Plesk, Parallels Automation and Virtuozzo. If you are an IT geek or someone working for a hosting provider I can bet you have heard of that Parallels.

To make a long story short, Parallels is used at probably 10,000+ hosting providers out there on a daily basis, reaching millions of customers. What they do is automate the whole management layer required at that level (i.e. provisioning the required services subscribed – web servers, wordpress, etc, handling customer creation/permissions/etc, provisioning the required software stack, etc) and also provide a robust and potentially much more efficient virtualization layer with their container approach (that is what Virtuozzo is). They have it for both Linux and Windows.

So they do have the end-user/consumer reach with their SOHO virtualization offerings AND do have the cloud (yes I will use the pretty word that everyone likes these days) providers on-board, with 10,000+ of them as active customers. This is something that both Citrix and VMware lack. Sure they may have made their way into the cloud space with things like Desktone and CWS. That is different than having 10,000+ of these under your belt and more than that, that have been using your solution for several years. It is proven. It is robust. AND customers like it. This by itself is something not all Citrix and VMware customers say about their solutions after having buying and deployed their products. Not saying they are bad products. Just saying there is a lot of very unhappy Citrix/VMware customers out there, for one reason or another. And please do not tell me you cannot please everyone. You and I know this goes way beyond that.

Now Parallels can introduce a product that will allow you to publish individual Windows apps out of RDSH or do the brokering to VDI based desktops potentially running on containers or any other hypervisor as 2X was indeed hypervisor agnostic, all this on the cheap. And they can leverage such robust and proven platform to all their hosting providers very quickly. With some engineering they can actually leverage your OWN PC to a provider out there and allow you to seamlessly connect to the one you have at home or to a much more powerful one (more CPU, more RAM) in the cloud, when you need it. Fully synchronized with your home machine.

That is killer.

I am a huge believer that VDI will only become what Brian and others have been predicting (and failing year after year) when it becomes a consumer product. Something end-users will want and use it. And not the niche thing it is today. Yes, no matter what you say your 10,000 VDI deployment is a niche compared to the 130,000,000 physical desktops shipped last year alone. I wrote about that years ago, here.

If there is one company now that can pull this off, under the radar, while Citrix and VMware fight their battles for niche VDI supremacy, is Parallels.

Time will tell if I was right or wrong. Of course a lot here will depend on what Parallels and Jack Zubarev do with 2X. But knowing they like a good fight and do love to innovate I do not expect anything less than a great outcome from this acquisition.


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