Parallels Elevates Former Microsoft Exec Steen To CEO

Serguei Beloussov, founder of virtualization software vendor Parallels, passed the CEO baton to company President Birger Steen, who came on board just more than six months ago after spending eight years in various positions at Microsoft.

As Parallels' president, Steen has been responsible for sales, marketing, product management, and customer support and services. Steen already has overseen the launch of two major Parallels products -- Desktop 6 for Mac and Plesk Panel 10 -- and has built closer product development ties between the company and its partners and customers through its "voice of the customer" program.

"During his six months with Parallels, Birger has proven himself to be an incisive decision-maker and capable leader for all areas of our business," Beloussov said Wednesday in a statement. "He will enable Parallels to be the best partner for service providers at an even larger scale and will lead the successful execution of our strategy."

As CEO, Steen's role will encompass engineering sales, partner relationships, support, marketing and deployment services. He'll be tasked with building Parallels' cloud services enablement and desktop virtualization businesses, according to the company statement.

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Beloussov, meanwhile, will maintain his role as executive chairman of the board and chief architect of Parallels' innovation, alliances and merger and acquisition strategy, according to the company statement.

Renton, Wash.-based Parallels has been grappling with VMware in the Mac desktop virtualization space for the past several years. Steen, in his role as former vice president of small and medium business and distribution in Microsoft's Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners Group, also had VMware squarely in his sights.

Last April, Steen told CRN that Microsoft's virtualization platform had reached the maturity level needed to give VMware a run for its money in the SMB space. "VMware may have been better a year ago, but once you get to the midmarket, you want to look at performance and price, and there really is no discussion," Steen told CRN at the time.

The brainchild of Russian developers, Parallels started out in desktop virtualization and in January 2008 merged with its parent company, SWsoft, keeping the name Parallels.

Last September, Parallels also brought in John Zanni, former general manager for Microsoft's Worldwide Software plus Services team, as its vice president of alliances, overseeing the company's strategic technology direction and go-to-market alliances with key partners.