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Parsec is taking its pandemic-born remote game development service and turning it into a cloud computing service for remote enterprise workers.
New York-based Parsec used streaming technology to provide access to remote computers for consumers. Then, during the pandemic, it created Parsec for Teams for game companies that needed to enable remote workers to access their heavy-duty files on their work computers via their home PC.
And now it is launching Parsec for Enterprise to provide technical creatives at large media and entertainment production studios, game development studios, visualization firms, creative agencies with access to high-performance computing, at scale, said CEO Benjy Boxer, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“Last year, game studios reached out to us so their employees could use it for themselves to get work done,” Boxer said. “They needed a business version of Parsec, and we called that Parsec for Teams. We solved many of the challenges that customers have with the security, configuration, team management, and all these different things built into it. And then the biggest companies wanted more. They wanted to be able to automate everything, have controlled access, audit logs, and all these different things.”
Above: The admin panel for Parsec for Enterprises.
The new release is a refinement of the Parsec for Teams product with more features. It has granular controls, automation, and integration capabilities to enable lightning-fast remote access to thousands of high-performance workstations, Boxer said.
Boxer said that Parsec saw unprecedented demand for Parsec for Teams as a direct result of global lockdowns. Parsec for Enterprise is designed to give CIOs and IT greater control over the deployment, security and feature set of the platform.
“We got our start in remote access for gaming, but when the pandemic hit, companies in other areas of creative work began using our platform to support their high-performance computing needs,” Boxer said. “Because the platform was built for compute-intensive work, we were able to quickly expand the platform to meet the day-to-day needs of these employees. That was the birth of Parsec for Teams.”
Now the company is looking at a more permanent future for flexible work, he said. It’s become clear that CIOs running remote and hybrid workplaces require more robust controls, flexibility and scale—in order to keep their workforces as productive as possible, he said.
Above: Parsec is a cloud-tech platform.
Rivals include Citrix and VMware. Parsec for Enterprise enables technical creative teams at enterprises to plug Parsec application programming interfaces (APIs) into systems for mass software and provisioning machine installs to enable guest access invitation and security controls.
The enterprise version can also leverage on-premises, high-performance relay servers for added security, performance, and control. It can automate access control such as adding a person to a team, provision a team computer, and assign that user to that computer automatically, with no work required from employees.
Companies can also gain insight into the organization based on how people are using the platform, including sources of traffic, where people are connecting from, and more. It has granular permissions management, allowing managers to define how users connect to both hardware and other teammates, and create custom administrative roles tailored to an organization.
Some of the most prominent gaming studios, including Electronic Arts, Square Enix, and Activision Blizzard, as well as a wide array of creative firms like Sid Lee, Toei Zukun Laboratory, Unity, and LPA, are using Parsec for Enterprise to accelerate productivity for their hybrid workforces. There are well over 100 game studios using Parsec.
Above: Parsec for Enterprises is $540 a year per person.
Boxer started Parsec in 2016 with chief technology officer Chris Dickson. The Parsec app is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Raspberry Pi and the web, and Parsec’s SDK allows its streaming
technology to be leveraged across any platform.
I’ve used Parsec for Teams on game demos as companies such as Ubisoft showed preview builds of their latest titles in a remote way, where I could access a cloud server from my home to play the Ubisoft game, which ran on Ubisoft’s server in a more secure fashion. The quality was good, though it wasn’t as good as if I were playing a Ubisoft game on my own high-end PC.
But it beat flying somewhere in the midst of a pandemic to play a game on one of Ubisoft’s machines. And Ubisoft found it could triple the number of journalists who could play one of its preview games in a hands-on way.
“On the consumer side, one of the challenges about gaming has generally is that you can’t market the cloud service to be better than the hardware that you sit in front of it,” Boxer said. “But it’s going to be pretty darn close. And we’re trying our best to make it as close as possible. And if you have a good network connection, stable network connection, you probably won’t notice much of a difference if you’re playing a game.”
Above: Parsec for Enterprises offers more granular control for IT managers.
For enterprises, the tasks are different and they have their own demands.
The Parsec for Teams product comes with the same administration panel as the enterprise product does. But it’s not doesn’t have as many features. It has secure connections and other basics. But the enterprise version gives more control to administrators.
“We decided to take care of all of the things that customers needed on the enterprise side,” Boxer said. “Our goal with the enterprise product is that you can run tens of thousands of employees on Parsec and have it all automated and managed by APIs.”
Parsec has about 50 employees. As companies prepare to send employees back to offices, Boxer believes many workers will continue to stay at home, and that will make Parsec for Enterprises ever more useful.
The Parsec for Teams product is $30 per month per user, or $360 a year. The enterprise is $540 per year per person. The feedback Parsec has gotten is that it can save an enterprise employee an hour a day in better efficiency. For a game developer, that’s a savings of $18,000 per year, Boxer said.
Parsec has raised $33 million to date.
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