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Parallels Server for Mac 4.0 Mac mini Edition

Parallels has released its new Parallels Server for Mac 4.0 Mac mini Edition. This product builds on the success of Parallels Server for Mac and Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac. This new Mac mini Edition is specifically designed for the Mac mini and has some limitations compared to the full Parallels Server. The full data sheet is available from Parallels. Our evaluation of features after the jump.

The key features are listed as:

  • The ONLY server virtualization solution optimized for Apple server hardware.
  • Virtual machine provisioning up to 2 virtual CPUs and 4GB of RAM.
  • Smart installation technology for the host & express installation capabilities for both Windows and Linux guests speeds time to deployment.
  • Point and click migration of virtual machines between physical computers improves disaster recovery capabilities and improves capacity planning capabilities.
  • Integrated snapshots, incremental and full backups of virtual machines streamlines the ability to protect the virtual environments without the need for 3rd party software.

There are several limitations with the Mac mini Edition of Parallels Server. The first is that the Mac mini Edition only supports two virtual machines running on a Mac mini Server running Snow Leopard Server. In addition, virtual machines are limited to two vCPUs per virtual machine (which makes sense since the Mac mini Server is dual core) and 4GB of RAM.

The vCPU and memory limitations make perfect sense but the limitation of only two virtual machines per Mac mini Server is a little bit disappointing. A limit of four virtual machines would be much better. Although I would not recommend running more than two Windows Server or Mac OS X Server instances on a Mac mini Server, multiple Linux or BSD virtual machines could easily be run. It seems that Parallels is carefully trying to avoid cannibalizing their $1999 full Parallels Server 4 for Mac with the $299 Parallels Server for Mac 4.0 Mac mini Edition.

The Mac mini Edition would be ideal to migrate one or two aging Windows, Mac OS X Server, or Linux systems into a virtualization environment while not spending too much. Those desiring a more robust and unlimited server virtualization environment should look at either the Parallels Server for Mac or Parallels Server for Mac Bare Metal Edition.

More adventurous users can also use Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac, VMware Fusion 3, orĀ VirtualBox in a similar capacity. We have successfully run virtual servers in both VMware Fusion and VirtualBox for several years now and the experience has been excellent if you realize that each of these products are designed for the desktop rather than server environment but can be configured to do an excellent job. In the case of VirtualBox, the software is also free.