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QA with Parallels CEO: Prioritizing Kernel-Level Contributions

With more than a decade under its belt, Parallels ranks among the most active corporate contributors to the Linux kernel and says that is serves 10 million users in 125 countries. The company today is joining The Linux Foundation and is preparing to speak at the annual Collaboration Summit taking place next week. Chairman and CEO and Serguei Beloussov shares with us why the increasing investment in Linux, what's required to collaborate and the state of virtualization and cloud computing.

Parallels is joining The Linux Foundation today and speaking at the Collaboration Summit next week. Why are you investing in these activities?

Beloussov: Since Parallels was founded in 2000, we have been a strong contributor and supporter of Linux – in fact we did not support any other platforms until 2005.

Parallels enables its partners to become profitable providers of cloud services. This space – of traditional hosting and cloud services providers for small businesses – has always been dominated by Linux and it’s not a coincidence. Delivering profitable cloud service requires a number of capabilities where Linux and Open Source have traditionally been strong – cost structure, flexibility, scale, etc.

Now we are formalizing years of our efforts and contributions by joining The Linux Foundation and we definitely look forward to continuing to contribute to Linux at technical, business and leadership levels. 

You’ve mentioned cloud services. What can you tell us about the cloud and virtualization?

Beloussov: Well, while the buzz around cloud computing services is a recent phenomenon, virtualized cloud services such as Virtual Private Servers have been popular and successful for some time. In fact, at the lower-end of the spectrum they are fairly commoditized by now: one can get themselves a Linux virtual server powered by our Parallels Container technology for as low as $20-$30/month from companies like GoDaddy, MediaTemple, 1and1, Hostway, and many hundreds of other Parallels Partners.

One aspect of cloud services is often being omitted though: Service Automation Software is effectively a set of “management tools” for virtualization for the cloud – management of services portfolios, self-service tools for customers, billing and provisioning, etc.

To this end, Parallels is focused on enabling service providers that help small businesses purchase, use and consume cloud services by making them easy to acquire, providing full service offerings and enabling profitability.

Parallels ranks in the top 10 of corporate contributors to the Linux kernel according to "Who Writes Linux," the study published by The Linux Foundation. What does this level of community collaboration require from a company?

Beloussov: First, I think it is important to note that the other companies in the top 10 are ten times the size of Parallels – so, proportionally to size, we are a huge contributor to the Linux kernel.

That being said, this level of community collaboration requires a number of things. First and foremost, it requires expertise – not just development and engineering expertise but also expertise in working, developing and successfully contributing as a part of the Open Source development process. It also obviously takes time, money, and most importantly, a commitment to collaborate well with the Linux community. I have committed to at least double our Linux contribution efforts over the next six months because we want Parallels Containers to become fully part of the mainstream Linux kernel sooner; this is important for the community, for cloud partners and works with our business model. It is important for us.

Can you give us an update on the OpenVZ project?

Beloussov: One of our recent advances is porting the OpenVZ patch set to kernel 2.6.32. This is an important step because this kernel will be used in some major distributions including Ubuntu 10.4, Debian 6, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. This has been a long-term maintained kernel.

Features recently added into OpenVZ kernel include ext4 support, NFS server in container and bridges. New features we are working on include journaled quota and a new memory management model, in which primary parameters will be memory (RAM) and swap space, while all other resource management parameters will become secondary.

What should sysadmins know about enterprise virtualization in 2010 and how are containers impacting the enterprise?

Beloussov: Enterprise admins should know that in 2010 the reality of elastic IT is possible. They have to break their assumptions of traditional methods and look at alternatives that simplify and automate the delivery of IT services.  For example, we are seeing our enterprise customers take advantage of Parallels containers to make elastic IT a reality for their businesses in a time of constrained budgets and resources.  Containers have unique advantages in situations where scalability, low latency, high density and very quick management operations are important, and we are starting to see that.

What challenges and opportunities do you see for Linux? 

Beloussov: The fundamental challenges Linux has faced over the years have increased. The market of operating systems has never been as competitive as it is today. This includes competition from the big players with lots of resources around their operating systems, and the challenges of maintaining the momentum behind any community driven project. What has changed is the opportunity around the Linux platform. Today’s economic environment requires the benefits of Linux – including that Linux is cost-effective, easy to deploy and maintain.

For example, I think Solaris now has a good new home, and it is much less likely to be an easy target, especially after Oracle integration is completed. VMware is a new comer to the Datacenter OS space and is aggressively expanding its footprint beyond virtualization. Google is aggressively offering its infrastructure as a datacenter platform and starting to get some traction. Even Mac OS X is starting to be visible in the server space – look at GoDaddy’s announcement!   And finally, Microsoft is getting its act together in the light of all those challenges.



 

 

 

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