Intel Unveils 'Intel Inside'-Style Campaign for Cloud Providers

By Jeffrey Burt

Intel over the years got a lot of mileage out of its well-known "Intel Inside" campaign that highlighted the processor technology running PCs. Now the giant chip maker is looking to a similar program to grow its presence in the cloud.

Intel officials on Jan. 15 are unveiling the company's "Powered by Intel Cloud Technology" initiative to give businesses that are looking to move workloads to the cloud a clearer idea of the underlying technology powering those cloud instances before they buy any services. The company is partnering with 16 cloud service providers (CSPs) around the world who will use the badge to give customers some guidance as they make their cloud choices.

In addition, the chip maker is integrating its Intel Cloud Finder online search engine, which enables organizations to find CSPs that use Intel technologies and can meet the criteria needed for the workloads they're moving to the cloud.

The goal of the program is to enable CSPs to be clearer about the underlying technology in their cloud computing environments, and to give organizations—including those moving into the cloud for the first time—greater transparency when making decisions on what they need and where they will go, according to Jason Waxman, vice president of Intel's Data Center Group and general manager of its Cloud Platform Group.

"[Businesses] are sort of lost in a sea of choices," Waxman told eWEEK, comparing choosing the best cloud infrastructure for the workloads to shopping for the best car for their needs.  "They want greater visibility into what they're deploying their workloads on."

Heterogeneous cloud infrastructure environments can have variations in performance of 40 to 60 percent, he said. Given that, businesses need better clarity of the technology their workloads will be running on to ensure they get the right performance for their jobs. For example, for some organizations, a few extra seconds getting onto their Web sites could results in lost business. Thirty-three percent of users will abandon a page and go somewhere else if a response time takes 6 seconds, he said.

When Website Shopzilla speeded up the page loading time, revenues increased between 7 and 12 percent.

"If you're too slow, people will go to another site," Waxman said.

For CSPs, the program will mean opportunities to grow revenues through differentiated services, he said. In addition, Intel will work with CSPs on direct marketing campaigns and co-marketing activities.

The Powered by Intel Cloud Technology program is an outgrowth of a partnership the company announced in September 2013 with cloud service provider Amazon Web Services (AWS). With that collaboration, AWS instances that exclusively use Intel's Xeon processors can now use the "Intel Inside" brand. AWS officials also put the latest Xeon processors into its data center systems.

Among the CSPs Intel is working with are Rackspace, Expedient, NxtGen, Canopy, Savvis and Selectel.

The new initiative comes at a time when industry analysts are forecasting rapid growth in the cloud computing space. Intel officials cited numbers from market research firm IDC indicating that infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) revenues are expected to grow 41 percent as more organizations migrate their workloads to the cloud. IDC analysts in September 2013 said spending on public cloud services will grow from $47.4 billion in 2013 to more than $107 billion in 2017.

The cloud business is an important one for Intel, particularly as more workloads move from data center servers to the cloud. During a conference call in October 2013, CEO Brian Krzanich said revenues in the company's cloud business jumped 40 percent in the third quarter over the same period in 2012.

Having an Intel Inside sort of campaign for the cloud also will be important to the chip maker. The cloud will be one of several areas of competition between Intel and ARM and its partners, which this year are expected to begin releasing 64-bit ARM-based SoCs for low-power servers.

Intel is rapidly building out its processor portfolio to include chips—not only Xeon processors, but also low-power Atom systems-on-a-chips (SoCs)—that can run the systems that form the foundation of these massive cloud infrastructures. The vendor also is offering a greater range of versions of these chips that can be optimized for particular workloads.

Intel not only is addressing such areas as processor speed, storage and memory capacity in these chips, but also security, which Waxman called the top concern of businesses that are considering moving workloads to the cloud. Through its acquisition of security software maker McAfee in 2011, Intel is integrating security features into its chips, including AES-NI encryption and Trusted Execution Technology.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research, said Intel's initiative could prove valuable to both the CSPs and their customers. Server technology is constantly evolving, and it's important for organizations to understand what their workloads are running on.

"There are quite a number of applications, particularly when you get into mission-critical applications, where having the correct amount of memory to support a [virtual machine] instance is a critical issue that could negatively impact app performance if it's not correct," King told eWEEK.

Businesses need to know the various cost tradeoffs involved with the technology, he said, likening always going with the lowest-cost technology to going to a "bargain-basement dentist." Eventually there will be regrets.

This article was originally published on 2014-01-15