When news first broke of Parallels announcing an enterprise solution, I just about jumped out of my skin. I had visions of data centers full of Macs running Parallels, replacing my ESX clusters. It was truly a joyous moment. That moment was short-lived when I noticed the press release also mention Desktop 6.
The official name? Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac Enterprise Edition. Quite a mouthful, but what is actually presented is a better way for companies to license and manage updates, using Parallels Desktop 6. Calling this “Enterprise” just feels dirty.
Let me back up a bit. By trade, I’m a systems engineer. That’s basically a fancy title for “computer guy” but it means I’ve spent my fair share of time in data centers and setting up IT infrastructures.
Virtualization has really changed the game in my line of work, making deployment a hell of a lot easier and more cost effective. With a few clicks of a mouse on my ESX server, I can roll out full blown Windows or Linux servers pre-configured for whatever tasks we may need to throw at them.
With this in mind, you can understand the rise and fall of my attitude when I heard first that Parallels was releasing an enterprise product, and then that it’s a desktop product.
Don’t get me wrong. I think anything that simplifies license management is great, but I haven’t really run into a license issue that a spreadsheet couldn’t handle, so the Enterprise title is hardly warranted for that.
Also included in Dektop 6 for Mac Enterprise Edition will be the ability to configure software update policies and roll them out to users. At first glance this sounds really cool. How are they doing that, you say? How can they interoperate at the OS level for updates? Well, let me tell you now, they aren’t. This update policy management is strictly for the app itself, not for the virtualized OS. This will still be handled via your standard group policies, meaning that any Virtual Machines you roll have to be a member of your domain if you plan on centrally managing their updates.
The one thing that actually stands out and feels like an Enterprise feature, is the ability to deploy copies of Parallels and pre-configured VMs to your users. It remains to be seen if this centralized system will allow on the fly remote VM creation, or if it’ll have to be done at time of initial roll-out.
In my opinion, the ability to roll out VMs to users on the fly is the last shred of hope Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac Enterprise Edition has at being an actual Enterprise Solution.