Intel executives are kicking off a broad initiative to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing in enterprise data centers and to position the company’s silicon and related products as the enabling technologies for the infrastructure that will power the clouds.
Officials with the giant chip maker on July 23 unveiled the Intel Cloud for All strategy, which includes not only supplying the processors for the systems running in the cloud environments, but also investing in the ecosystem that will develop the solutions for software-defined infrastructures, leveraging Intel’s platform technologies to optimize the infrastructure to run an array of cloud workloads, and pushing the development of open standards and offerings to encourage cloud deployments.
The investments could come in a range of forms, from product launches and acquisitions to investing in other companies and partnerships, according to Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group.
The goal of all this is to “accelerate the adoption of highly efficient clouds for businesses and providers,” Bryant said during a conference call with journalists and analysts.
The first step in this effort is a partnership with Rackspace to establish an innovation center to create the world’s largest cloud for OpenStack developers, drive the creation of enterprise features in OpenStack and significantly increase the number of developers working on the open-source cloud platform. The partnership is the first of 15 to 20 announcements Intel will make around its cloud initiative over the next year, according to Bryant and Jason Waxman, general manager of Intel’s Cloud Platforms Group.
“Most people look at the cloud and say it’s on fire, but we’re in the position to say that we don’t think it’s moving fast enough,” Waxman said, adding that an aggressive approach is needed. “Incremental action is not going to cut it. We really need to move the needle.”
Cloud computing is getting a large share of attention in the industry, and for good reason, according to Bryant.
“The move to cloud computing is happening because there’s a very clear and compelling value proposition,” not only for end users but also for developers and data center operators, she said.
Currently about half of all applications are delivered via the cloud, and that is predicted to go up to 85 percent by 2020, Bryant said. However, the bulk of the cloud right now is centered around consumer services from top cloud service providers; about 75 percent of current cloud usage is consumer-focused, according to Intel officials.
Businesses want to adopt cloud computing, but right now the technology is difficult and complex for enterprises to implement on a large scale, according to Jonathan Donaldson, general manager of software-defined infrastructure for Intel’s Cloud Platforms Group. Donaldson has been talking with journalists this month to lay out the foundation of Intel’s cloud efforts and has echoed what Bryant and Waxman were saying.
“We don’t really think [cloud computing] is growing fast enough,” he told eWEEK, adding that enterprises face the challenges that proprietary cloud offerings are expensive and that open-source solutions are complex and lack enterprise-level features.
Intel’s cloud push is designed to bring those enterprise features to public, private and hybrid clouds, giving businesses greater incentives to make the move to cloud computing, Bryant said.
Intel Kicks Off Broad Effort to Grow Enterprise Cloud
The cloud also represents a significant opportunity to Intel, whose revenues are being impacted by the slowing sales of PCs worldwide. Bryant said that such trends as the Internet of things (IoT) and big data will fuel enterprise demand for cloud computing, noting that the market for cloud infrastructure technologies will grow faster than traditional infrastructure products. That could help Intel offset any lost business from the weakening PC market.
Intel already works with an array of cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services, and is building out its custom chip business to develop processors optimized to meet their particular needs. The upcoming acquisition of programmable chip maker Altera and partnering with eASIC also will help with Intel’s cloud efforts, and Bryant said the company also is working with Red Hat, VMware, Microsoft and other vendors on cloud technology.
Getting enterprises buying Intel-based cloud infrastructures could boost the chip maker’s bottom line. Where there are now hundreds of clouds, Intel wants to enable tens of thousands.
The partnership with Rackspace—the co-founder of OpenStack—will help bring enterprise features to OpenStack, according to Waxman. The OpenStack Innovation Center will be housed at Rackspace’s headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. It will include a developer cloud comprising two 1,000-node Intel-based clusters that developers can use to test OpenStack performance, code and features. It will be available within six months.
The two companies also will add more than 100 engineers to work at the center to bring enterprise capabilities to OpenStack.
“The center will be our joint hub to recruit and train open source developers, and provide a center of excellence for engineers from Intel and Rackspace to collaborate and focus on improving the scalability, manageability and reliability of OpenStack,” Scott Crenshaw, senior vice president of strategy and product at Rackspace, wrote in a post on the company blog. “All of the OpenStack Innovation Center work will take place within existing OpenStack processes and community. This is important; our actions are intended to strengthen the community and add to the resources available to it, not to fork code nor create new distributions.”