After writing “VMware Fusion 6 Professional virtualizes the enterprise Mac,” the
folks at Parallels offered me an
evaluation of the new version of Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac.
I also looked into Parallels Business Suite, including Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac Enterprise Edition, Parallels Management
– Mac for Microsoft SCCM (2007/2012), and Parallels Access, which should be
appealing to enterprises with a growing Mac population.

Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac

Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac ($79.99 full version/$49.99
upgrade) is the latest update of the venerable Parallels Desktop that became a
standard when Intel-based Macs first launched. If you’ve strayed from Parallels Desktop as a virtualization solution for your enterprise Macs, Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac touts
some significant performance improvements and other new features that might
give you cause to come back as a customer.

The Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac installation is simple and
quick, and it doesn’t require much IT intervention. When the install completes,
the New Virtual Machine dialog box will appear (Figure A):

Figure A

New Virtual Machine.

For this post, I chose to download Ubuntu Linux 13.04
desktop for my virtual machine (VM). The download screen was well laid out, but
the last two minutes of the download were extremely slow.

Interestingly enough, the New Virtual Machine wizard in Parallels Desktop
picked up the VMs I had previously created during my VMware Fusion review. When
I opened the Ubuntu Linux 13.04 VM, I was asked to enter a password. Figure B
shows Ubuntu Linux appliance running in Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac.

Figure B

Ubuntu Linux 13.04.

When you start a VM for the first time, Parallels installs a
set of tools inside the VM after you’ve entered your Linux password. I was also given
the opportunity to upgrade Ubuntu to 13.10 when I was completing the VM
setup.

Figure C

Getting started with the Linux virtual appliance.

Once you install Ubuntu Linux 13.04, Linux applications are
available from your OS X dock (Figure D).

Figure D

Linux apps available on the OS X dock.

It doesn’t get easier than this when installing a VM. I also
tested an installation with Windows 8.1 Preview and experienced similar results. You
even get the option to run Windows 8.1 like a Mac (Windows apps appear without
the Windows desktop) or like a PC (keeps Windows apps and files in one window). In my mind, this point-and-click setup of VMs on a Mac is a must for
enterprises of all sizes. Figure E shows Windows 8.1 running in full-screen
mode via Parallels Desktop.

Figure E

Windows 8.1 running in Parallels Desktop.

Mavericks support

Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac packs in some serious Mavericks
support, including:

  • Mavericks VM support using the install OS X
    Mavericks apps in the Mac App Store, which will appeal to those who need OS X
    test environments (and it’s something I plan to check out in the future)
  • Mavericks Finder Tabs work with your Windows
    applications
  • Mavericks
    Multiple Display support extends to Windows VMs, giving each one a menu bar and
    dock

Parallels extends into the enterprise

Parallels Desktop for Mac Enterprise Edition ($100.00/per Mac, per year) is an enterprise
version of Parallels Desktop that includes backend administrative tools. These
administrative features include:

  • Set expiration date for a VM to
    stop functioning on a specific date, which has use cases for customer demos and
    proof of concepts along with contractors and freelancers who need temporary
    access to corporate resources
  • Configure a VM to start in automatically (called
    “Headless Mode”) when the Mac boots, without an admin needing to login
    to the Mac to start the VM
  • Command line support for Parallels
    Desktop and VM settings and for the changing/resetting of user passwords
  • Remote Password Reset for VMs when
    a user forgets their Windows VM credentials
  • Administrators also gain enhanced
    deployment tools for more granular control over the deployment of VMs
  • Administrators can set a Windows lock screen
    that requires a user name and password when resuming from suspend

Parallels Management – Mac for Microsoft SCCM (2007/2012)

Backing up Parallels Desktop for Mac Enterprise Edition is Parallels
Management Suite for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager ($30.00 per
Mac, per year). IT administrators with growing a Mac user base can use it keep
Macs in compliance with IT policies. It enables the following:

  • Deploy Mac software and patches
  • Deploy
    OS X images through Microsoft SCCM 2007/2012
  • Use
    Microsoft SCCM reports to view details about Windows PCs and Macs on your
    network

Parallels Access

Parallels Access
($49.00 per PC, per year) is about the most robust remote access solution I’ve
seen yet. It enables iPad users to access PC and Mac applications and use the
apps as if they are native iPad apps. Look for a full review of Parallels
Access from me in the near future.

Final thoughts

I rank Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac fairly high for its usability
and feature set. They also have a common sense enterprise Mac virtualization
and management strategy. The Parallels Business Solutions Suite brings flexibility
and necessary management tools to enterprises that need to support a growing
Mac user base.

What VM tools do you use in your organization? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.