Overcast in Vegas at Parallels Summit 2009

So this is my last night in Las Vegas. I’ve been here since Sunday attending the Parallels Summit 2009 – my second year attending this conference. The growth in attendance from 2008 is quite impressive.

I still get some confused looks when I meet folks at this conference, as DiscountASP.NET does not use any Parallels software products. But it’s not a mystery why we would choose to attend this conference.

  1. Microsoft is a regular sponsor and I can meet up with Microsoft staff.
  2. Our partners like SmarterTools participate at the conference and I can meet with them and meet other potential partners through the Expo.
  3. There are many other Windows hosters that go to this conference since Parallels products are popular among Windows hosts – so I can meet and catch up with these hosters.
  4. We built our own hosting automation system and control panel, but many other Windows hosters use Parallels products so it’s important to understand the Parallels roadmap and strategic direction.
  5. Like any other software vendor that develops products for hosters, Parallels is concerned with the giants who are moving into virtualization and into the hosted services space – e.g. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.  It is good to understand Parallels’ point of view and understand their strategy.
  6. They get some good speakers.
  7. Networking, Networking, Networking…
  8. This year the conference was in Vegas. Need I say more?
  9. Parallels and their sponsors throw some good parties!
  10. The view from MIX (Mandalay Bay)

Some random impressions/thoughts on this conference in no particular order.

  1. The weather in Vegas was actually clear and nice. I only stated “overcast” in the blog title because a majority of the speakers at the conference focused on “the Cloud”.
  2. I thought it was interesting to see the shifts in Parallels’ positioning from 2008 and 2009. In 2008, Parallels pushed hard on the message of virtualization, citing the rising importance of greening of datacenters, and I also felt that they painted “the Cloud” as nothing new – something all hosts had been doing throughout time but without the hyped-up terminology. In 2009, you see a shift in messaging – Parallels helps lower costs/TCO (obvious message with the current economic climate) and can be used to leverage “the Cloud” and SaaS applications. I thought this embracing of the Cloud was a shift.
  3. They had a well-rounded group of speakers.
  4. They turned off the lights in the Expo too many times – to help drive conference participants to the talks. I understand the desire to help fill seats at their guest’s presentations but the Expo vendors are also paying to be there and also deserve to have the lights on to do their networking. There has to be better solutions to get butts in seats.
  5. As always, I enjoyed our friend Jeff Hardy’s (SmarterTools) quick talk in the Industry track. He spoke on the achieving “Hosting Success in Challenging Times” highlighting the importance of Business Intelligence. I’m sure the presentation will be posted on the SmarterTools blog or on the Parallels site in the near future. SmarterTools was “smart” in getting people to their talk – they raffled off a scooter – and I’m still upset at being only one away from winning 🙂
  6. Dave Wright, Worldwide Industry Director of SaaS ISVs at Microsoft spoke on the topic of “How we will REALLY move to the Cloud” and reinforced the message that even with Microsoft’s S+S strategy, they intend to succeed through partnerships. This is an important message because there are many hosters out there that are very worried and concerned about competing with Microsoft for hosting customers. The point made in this talk is that there are certain types of workloads that Windows Azure will excel at, while there are other types of workloads that existing hosters will excel at. So, Windows Azure and hosters will coexist and with the right type of strategy, perhaps even grow together through partnership. Azure is still nascent and we will see how this all develops.
  7. I really enjoyed Morris Miller’s ( Sequel Ventures, LLC and  one founder of RackSpace) talk on Branding/Positioning/Strategy using RackSpace’s early history as an example. His talk brought back a flood of memories when I first encountered RackSpace. I competed with RackSpace and followed their rise while I was at Affinity Internet. In his presentation, he showed slides of their print ads which I remember seeing. A key takeaway from his talk was a recommendation to focus a company’s positioning to one thing – which i felt was an affirmation of our business strategy. And also that a company’s brand position can evolve and is not a static thing. Through the print ads, he showed how RackSpace’s positioning evolved.

This post is getting long so I’m going to sign off now. But if I can crystallize some other thoughts I’ll post some more. Here are some quick iphone pics of the view from MIX on the 64th floor of TheHotel (Mandalay Bay).

Takeshi Eto
VP Marketing and Business Development

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