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While managed services have captured the attention of many solution providers recently, Intel’s partners attending the company’s partner summit showed more enthusiasm about small-form-factor PCs based on the company’s Atom processor than the company’s announcement of a white-label managed services offering.

Intel’s channel chief Steve Dallman announced the managed services offering and talked about opportunities around small-form-factor PCs and the Atom processor during his keynote address at the summit, April 8.

Intel said the offering, powered by provider NaviSite, would allow Intel channel partners to deliver self-branded hosted Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint; e-mail spam and virus filtering and archiving; online backup and restore; and remote monitoring and management.

But some of Intel’s partners said that getting into the services business was tough for smaller VARs.

David Valencia, sales and marketing manager of Intel partner U.S. Micro, said managed services could work for larger VARs, but for some smaller solution providers the expense and the personnel needed to remain competitive just didn’t make it worthwhile.

"To be able to do services, you would have to add more [staff], and sometimes that’s just not possible," he said.

Todd Marvin, U.S. Micro’s vice president, added that for small companies like U.S. Micro, even asking existing personnel to take on additional workload would be difficult.  "They’re saying, ‘reassign your existing personnel,’ but for small companies like us, with about 16 people, all our guys are already wearing a ton of different hats."

But another solution provider said his company’s moves into the services side of the business came naturally.

Anthony Antonacci, associate director of Cartier Informatique, an Intel solution provider in Quebec, said managed services often require a long lead time, especially as a smaller partner, but that his company “fell into” the services business almost accidentally.

"For us it became first we’ll sell you the PC, and then we’ll come and fix the PC.  And then ‘Hey, maybe with some tools we can save time and resources and fix the PC from here,’ so for now we use LogMeIn to do remote monitoring and management. So it’s something we just sort of fell into."

Partners, however, were abuzz about Intel’s plans for small-form-factor PCs based on the Intel’s Atom processor. Solution providers at the summit said they agreed with Intel’s Dallman about the opportunities for lower-power processors and motherboards that fit into small-form-factor chassis.

Marvin said he was extremely pleased with the direction Intel was taking and that the increased ability to offer small-form-factor machines would be especially important for his company’s education and government customers.

Antonacci said that small-form-factor machines were always a big hit for customers looking to replace large, unwieldy towers that usually ended up on end-users’ floors, pushed under their desks to get them out of the way.  He added that the power savings and the more efficient cooling available were also key selling points.

For another Canadian solution provider who wished to remain anonymous, it was most important that Dallman seemed tuned into what partners needed and also presented a message consistent with other conference speakers.

"The keynote was great—it seems like he really listens, and I’ve seen him the last few days walking around the [show] floor and talking with people. He totally is enthusiastic and engaged," the solution provider said.


Related coverage from the Intel partner summit:

Intel, NaviSite Ink Managed Services Deal

For Intel, Desktops Aren’t Dead

Intel Channel Chief: Virtualization a Boon for Intel

Intel Partners Say Small Form Factor a Big Deal

Intel Jumps Into Managed Services Market