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Parallels Remote Application Server brings AI, 2FA to SMBs

Parallels added new capabilities to its Remote Application Server product, including better reporting and monitoring for management and easier access to daily applications.

Virtualization software vendor Parallels released its latest Remote Application Server product in June, with new features that it believes will make an end user's workday easier.

Among the features in Remote Application Server version 17 is a session pre-launch that uses machine learning under the covers to capture data about an end user's habits and which applications they use daily and automatically launch those applications upon booting up.

Ryan Mangan, CTO at Systech IT Solutions, said he's already seen positive results of the new Remote Application Service offerings. Mangan also said his organization was drawn to Parallels for its ease of use and cost efficiency, something he believes serves the SMB niche.

A closer look at RAS 17

The session pre-launch capabilities are designed for applications that connect to large databases or applications that are complex and can take 10 to 15 minutes to launch.

"Once we rolled it out and saw the different performances and how it understands what users are doing, we saw happy experiences from it," Mangan said. Systech IT Solutions is a United Kingdom-based IT consultancy that is both a partner and customer of Parallels.

Other features in the updated Remote Application Server include an integration with Google Authenticator, a multi-factor authentication tool for two-step verification, to provide better security, as well as more granular permissions for administrators to configure better control of what users can access. It also provides new reporting and monitoring capabilities for application usage and gateway sessions for management.

Migrating to Parallels

Systech IT Solutions, an SMB itself, migrated to Parallels and off of Microsoft Remote Desktop about a year ago. Mangan said the costs of upkeep and infrastructure were the driving forces behind the switch. He also believes that a lot of Systech's customers used Citrix in the past but had similar cost concerns and wondered if enterprise-level features that Citrix offers were worth the investment.

Once we rolled it out and saw the different performances and how it understands what users are doing, we saw happy experiences from it.
Ryan ManganCTO, Systech IT Solutions

"They look at the amount of effort and infrastructure required and the time it will take and the general cost of Citrix, and they really didn't require all that functionality to begin with," Mangan said. "You end up paying a fraction of what you were paying."

According to Mangan and analysts, Parallels can be easier to deploy and integrate for a smaller or mid-market organization. He described the Parallels portal as "just click and play," adding "there's very little for the end user to do to get it running."

Nathan Hill, an analyst at Gartner, said smaller virtualization players are wise to target SMBs. "It's not that Parallels isn't for the enterprise, but for that mid-size business, they're usually open to a more broad set of vendors compared to a large enterprise that wants a vendor to scale with it," he said.

Hill added that the desktop virtualization market is primarily a duopoly for the larger customer base with Citrix and VMware, but that more niche offerings like Parallels and Accops, a workspace virtualization provider, can serve a diverse set of devices for organizations on a tighter IT budget.

Mangan said that was another reason his organization was drawn to Parallels. "When we looked at [Remote Application Server] we were looking for a technology that would allow us to simplify management from the technical side of things while also being able to access our applications and desktops across a wide platform of different products," he said.

Mangan added that the new features were a welcome addition both internally and for Systech's customers.

"From an end-user perspective and an IT perspective, we find it very comfortable," Mangan said.

Parallels Remote Application Server costs $99 per year for a concurrent user license.

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