Parallels Server beta available for Mac OS X, Linux, and WIndows servers

SWsoft (soon to be renamed Parallels) today announced the release of the beta version of Parallels Server, the company’s hypervisor-powered server virtualization solution. Parallels Server is the first virtualization solution designed to run on Apple hardware, including Mac Pros and Xserves, and the first to run multiple copies of Mac OS X Server v10.5 Leopard on a single Apple computer. Parallels Server also runs on any x86 or 64-bit Windows or Linux-based server.

Parallels Server can be installed using the Parallels lightweight hypervisor, in which virtual machines run in tandem with a primary operating system, or “bare metal,” in which virtual machines run independently and are not dependent on a host operating system to function properly. Users can choose to load Parallels Server in lightweight hypervisor mode or bare-metal mode at installation. Parallels Server is the only virtualization product of any kind to afford users the flexibility to choose their implementation at install.

The software supports any combination of more than 50 different guest operating systems including Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 “Longhorn”, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Enterprise Linux, and Sun Solaris simultaneously in isolated virtual machines. Customers running Parallels Server on Apple hardware also have the industry-first option of running Mac OS X Server in a virtual machine.

Parallels Server is the first server virtualization product to be designed uniquely for small and medium businesses and departments of large enterprises, which require solutions with less complexity in management and deployment. It is an ideal server consolidation tool that can substantially reduce hardware expenditures and operating costs, and simplify back-end IT management.

In addition, Parallels Server is the first to offer experimental support for Intel second-generation virtualization technology, Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (Intel VT-d). By fully optimizing for hardware-enabled virtualization technologies like Intel VT-d, Parallels Server will not only deliver high levels of performance and reliability but also allows users to directly assign hardware resources such as a second graphics or network card to a virtual machine.

SWsoft’s Parallels Server is the first server virtualization software solution on Intel-based Apple hardware supporting Mac OS X Server, including Apple’s new Xserve and Mac Pro lines, which were announced yesterday. With Parallels Server, Mac OS X Server administrators will be able to run important, industry-standard, workloads such as SQL Server and Exchange Server at the same time as their Mac OS X Server applications.

The product is also the first ever to enable running Mac OS X Server, in a virtual machine. This gives users the ability to create “sandboxed” Mac OS X Server virtual machines in which they can test patches, new software, and experiment with new Apple hardware configurations, without compromising a production server.

Coupled with Parallels Desktop for Mac, the company’s award-winning desktop virtualization solution, Parallels Server presents businesses with a unique opportunity to standardize on Apple desktop and server hardware while still having access to applications written for any operating system.

Parallels Server joins SWsoft’s Virtuozzo Containers as an additional SWsoft server virtualization technology. The company will soon extend its virtualization management tools to manage both Virtuozzo Containers and Parallels virtual machines in one solution.

“Hundreds of thousands of customers are using Parallels virtualization software in their businesses and homes to get the most out of their Windows, Mac and Linux desktop computers and applications,” said Serguei Beloussov, CEO of SWsoft, in the press release. “Launching the Parallels Server beta is a key milestone in delivering on our vision of ‘Optimized Computing’ for servers and desktops across heterogeneous platforms.”

Key Features in the Parallels Server beta include:
• Run any combination of more than 50 different x86 and x64 guest operating in secure, high performing virtual machines, and have the option to run virtual machines in the headless mode via a “bare metal” hypervisor
• Take advantage of Parallels Server’s industry first capability to simultaneously run multiple copies of Mac OS X Server, Windows Server and Linux on the same Xserve
• Users running Parallels Server on Apple hardware also have the industry-first option to run Mac OS X Server in a virtual machine
• Remote control of the virtual machines via the Parallels Management Console
• Support for up to 64Gb of RAM on the host computer
• Full support for x64 primary and guest OSes, as well as 2-way SMP in virtual machines. The final release version will support up to 4-way SMP
• Multi-user access to the same virtual machine
• Support for ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) in virtual machines
• Completely open, fully scriptable APIs for customized management
• Full support for Intel VT-x, and experimental support for Intel VT-d

Parallels Server is currently in private beta testing, and the company is accepting registrations for new beta testers. For details about participating in the beta program, go to


  1. Great stuff. Now I’d like to see VMWare Workstation 6.0 for OS X. I have to support a crapload of Windows boxes and its helpful to run multiple servers (Exchange, SQL, AD, SCCM, SCOM etc) simulataneously in virtual instances. With the eight core Mac Pros, this would be perfect. Currently VMWare workstation only supports Windows or Linux. Cmon VMWare!

  2. Server virtualization was the last piece of the puzzle needed for Apple to become a real force in the enterprise server market. I work for a large Canadian financial institution, and we’re moving much of our server infrastructure to virtualized servers. It’s a trend that many large enterprises are moving towards and one that I feared Apple was ignoring.

    This is great news.

  3. Hey IT Dude:

    You ask for VMWare Workstation 6.0 for OS X. What about VMWare Fusion? Have you tried it?

    What I want is VMWare SERVER for OS X, so that I can have VM’s automatically run, even if now user is logged in. Then I could stop running a separate Linux machine with VMWare server for all my server needs, and just get a Mac Pro or XServer.

    This product may do the trick.

  4. Hmmm…. what does this really mean.

    Would I be able to, for instance, install Parallels Server on a machine, install Windows XP, install Office, and have that server offer more than one virtual environment with the same apps? For instance Office? Clearly Office would recognize that it was on a network, and scoff at the idea if it saw the same serial number in use, but generally speaking, this would be a whole lot preferable than installing parallels all over the place, which is what I have to do now.

    Is this similar to Citrix Metaframe?

  5. Thelonius…

    The answer is that, because high-end virtualisation environments can have services re-allocated, it is possible to take a dozen two-way machines (say, an HP DL360) which are, on average, only being utilised 10-20% from a CPU perspective and recreate them as a set of virtual machines on a modern multi-core system that utilises its processing power far more efficiently.

    The enterprise gains in the following ways…

    1) The IT suite only has to power one machine as opposed to twelve.
    2) The IT budget only has to put a single machine on maintenance, as opposed to twelve
    3) The IT rack takes 12U of servers and condenses them into 3 or 5U

    There was a period where some niche manufacturers, like EMC’s Data General, were shipping 32-way configurations that could easily act as the physical home of 120+ virtual servers, but I haven’t seen anything like that for some while.

    When Intel ships Sandy Bridge (née Gesher) in 2010 or so, it is alleged that each package will – at some point – have up to 32 cores organised as eight groups of four; two of those packages in a 2U or 3U box (which I would assume was a necessity from a cooling perspective) would be capable of consolidating several racks of servers into a single box in which highly-optimised, virtualised images can be mounted and dismounted as required.

  6. I wonder how Apple feels about the idea of people buying only 1 Xserve and 4 extra copies of OS X Server, instead of 5 Xserves?

    This of this, though — you could use Paralells server to run a Windows/Citrix terminal server on your Xserve (alongside the normal Mac OS X Server services), host the handful of Windows apps there that workstation users need to use, and you’d be that much closer to eliminating Windows from your environment (it would be contained in a nice managed bottle, at least)

  7. I wonder how Apple feels about the idea of people buying only 1 Xserve and 4 extra copies of OS X Server, instead of 5 Xserves?

    Better than they would if you bought a HP/Dell/etc. server. Once Apple is in the server room, how long before IT begins to move to the desktops?

    That’s the strategy.

  8. Question for the IT pros…reviews of Parallels for Mac and VMW Fusion indicate that Parallels may be the better choice for the Mac desktop. How does this new Parallels product compare to VMWare’s signature Server Virtualization products? Could it be superior?

  9. (Jay)
    > What I want is VMWare SERVER

    VMware has just pissed A LOT of their most loyal customers by requiring the VMWare Server Beta 2 to be managed by a huge and clunky tomcat web-service only (or the 32bit XP/Vista Virtual Infrastructure (VI) client)
    The slim QT console is gone (unless someone in product management get’s a clue and hits the devs with a baseball-club).
    This is a huge (HUGE) opportunity for Parallels. If their server-product has a nice and slim console (that also runs on OS X), people will happily pay a little premium for the peace of mind.

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