In one of the closing keynotes at the Parallels Summit this week in Las Vegas, founder and former CEO Serguei Beloussov delivered a presentation that, while it covered a very broad swath of topics, ultimately delivered a pretty focused message about Beloussov’s own vision, and Parallels’ vision, for the future of technology, service providers and small businesses and the role Parallels and its partners will play.
He explained what he does for Parallels in his current role as executive chair and chief architect. He says he’s in charge of strategy, and has the luxury of not having to necessarily worry about the details of how to accomplish those strategic goals.
In his role at Runa capital, the venture fund Beloussov started with a few other well known names from the hosting business, he spends a lot of time focusing his attention on innovations, in technology or business thinking or other areas, and looking for ways to extract value from those innovations.
Innovations also have a finite lifespan, he says. Even something like the printing press, which changed the world completely, may not be around forever.
Cloud, he says, is a tectonic shift in the hosting space. And figuring out how to make the cloud work for you is the job of hosting providers. The way to do that is innovating for your customers.
He gives some examples of hosting businesses that have succeeded by innovating over the years: Earthlink’s self-service model; Endurance International’s M&A approach; Go Daddy’s cheap domain offerings; 1&1’s long-term free trial when it launched the US, Aruba.it’s unbundled hosting model; non-hoster hosters like Yola.
But not every innovation is a success, he says, even at very successful companies. Microsoft’s original tablet product; Google Wave, and Go Daddy’s cloud hosting product, for example.
Parallels has had missteps, he says. The company made too many acquisitions, and had to many products at one point. But it was the innovations along the way – Plesk, Virtuozzo and the automation platforms – that made the difference for the company.
Innovation is needed now, because IT is about to change radically. Apple is entering a new era without Steve Jobs; Microsoft is no longer the default in the enterprise; Google is becoming a platform; everyone wants to know what’s next for Facebook; Cisco’s dominant networking market share is being threatened by software defined networking; Dell might not necessarily be the place to buy your server; Intel is being threatened by Qualcomm.
There are three ongoing technology trends that are most important, he says: social, mobile and cloud. Fast 4G connections and mobile devices will be everywhere soon, and there will be an abundance of computing resources available. In the future, says Beloussov, “everyone has access to unlimited connected computing.”
Everyone having connected, powerful mobile devices is going to change a lot of horizontal fields, he says, by changing the way people interact with heathcare, education, finance, government and small businesses.
Here, he reiterates that Parallels sees a $95 billion opportunity in delivering cloud services to small businesses. In 2013, for the first time, he says, Parallels is delivering a complete platform, including its technology platform, APS, and Parallels business services.
Parallels Plesk Automation, he says, is finally uniting all the company’s products, making it possible to start with Plesk and seamlessly move up the Parallels stack toward its more complex automation platforms.
He says the way to sustain your business is to understand your customers, and provide them a full service. Watch the big guys, but don’t worry about the big guys.
In general, the message of Parallels is that it enables partners – service providers and component and platform vendors – to offer full cloud services to small businesses. Beloussov says he thinks of the company as being like Intel, in the sense that its technology exists to enable a whole ecosystem of other businesses.
Talk back: Do you work to innovate in response to big-picture changes in the technology market? Do you agree with Beloussov’s vision for the future? Do you work with Parallels as a partner? Let us know in the comments.