Parallels Upgrades App, Desktop Server

Version 17 of Parallels RAS speeds log-in by predicting user behavior with AI, and adds a host of new features and integrations.

As the virtual desktop market becomes more competitive, Parallels on Tuesday upgraded its remote application and desktop server with new integrations and artificial intelligence designed to get users working faster from remote locations.

Version 17 of Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS) also expands the product's management features, further automates VDI deployment, introduces an API for integrating with third-party products, adds reporting capabilities and implements extra layers of security, Parallels lead program manager Christian Aquilina told CRN.

"The primary focus was on providing a superior user experience, enabling an ultra-fast user experience," Aquilina said.

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The Bellevue, Wash.-based virtualization software vendor, acquired at the end of last year by Corel, has been enhancing Parallels RAS since it purchased the product's original developer, 2X, in 2015.

RAS 17 can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, with direct availability through the AWS and Microsoft Azure online software marketplaces.

It is the first version of the product to leverage artificial intelligence to speed the log-in process.

The AI engine analyzes user habits and initiates pre-launch processes just before they are deemed likely to access the system. That predictive capability eases the load from "log-on storms" that happen at peak hours, Aquilina said.

The latest release also adds support for Windows Server 2019 and Google Authenticator.

Parallels RAS 17 comes out as industry heavyweights enter the rapidly heating application and desktop virtualization market.

Nutanix recently joined the fray with the acquisition of Frame. Microsoft, a close partner of Parallels, recently launched a VDI service, Microsoft Virtual Desktop, as did AWS a few years earlier with Amazon WorkSpaces.

As to its traditional competitors, Citrix Systems and the VMware Horizon, Parallels sees its differentiation in simplicity and price.

"You can literally deploy this in minutes," Aquilina said. "We keep it simple for ourselves and our resellers."

That focus on simplicity extends to what is a "very straightforward" license agreement, he said.

While the company sees an expanding VDI market, "we believe it's not about VDI," Aquilina said, but "it's about providing the right user experience for the right user profile."

The latest RAS release also adds support for Scale Computing's hyper-converged infrastructure.