Intel Says It's Ready to Help Enterprise Complete Transition to Cloud

At its first Cloud Day, Intel officials declared the company is ready to provide the technology, standards and know-how to help enterprises complete the transition to cloud computing.

Intel Cloud 2

SAN FRANCISCO—Intel gathered enterprise developers, customers and media here for a Cloud Day event that featured new products and some impressive customer examples of private and hybrid cloud systems they have implemented.

Intel declared the trend toward cloud computing is at least as important as the chip architectures the company developed to power the PC revolution of the 1980s and 90s.

"I think when we look back at what cloud computing has done we’ll see that it had a bigger impact than PCs did in the 1990's," said Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, kicking off the event.

Bryant noted that Intel has been talking about the cloud for more than five years and has made considerable investments in both related products and partnerships. While Amazon has a significant lead in cloud computing with competitors Microsoft and Google making gains, Bryant said a variety of hybrid solutions are driving cloud adoption in the enterprise.

She cited a RightScale survey of more than 1,000 IT professionals that showed that enterprises were running on average six cloud systems, typically a mix of both public and private services.

That same survey said security is no longer the top barrier to greater cloud adoption; rather, it's the lack of expertise to deploy and manage cloud systems. To that end, Bryant said Intel has been working with a number of tech firms, including Mirantis, HP, Microsoft, VMware and others on reference architectures, twenty of which have already been published.

She said one measure of the success of these efforts that has already been demonstrated in proof-of-concept deployments is the ability to roll out a rack of servers into the data center to set up a private cloud and have end users able to access a fully functional self-service portal to those cloud services the same day.

As part of its cloud push, Bryant said Intel has assembled the largest OpenStack developer team worldwide including an innovation center in San Antonio, Texas. It's also working with RackSpace to make cloud resources available to developers to test and validate at scale. Currently, there are 500 servers available to developers with that number expected to grow to over 1,000 soon.

Mark Williams, CTO at data center solutions provider Redapt, talked about how some companies are moving their public cloud platforms to a private cloud. "There are customers that have an opportunity to let their apps mature in the public cloud and the final step for optimization" to give them more operational control is to bring it back to a private cloud in their own data center, he said. He cited as a customer example of such a move.

"People are really building their own cloud, it’s not a myth," he added. "When you've already invested in automation, it's easier to bring it back in house."

Jason Waxman, Intel's corporate vice president and general manager of the cloud platforms group, said Intel's goal is to help companies build the next 10,000 clouds. There has already been considerable investment in cloud-related companies.

Waxman noted that venture capital firms have already spent more than $17.5 billion the past five years in cloud-related funding. Intel itself has a large VC arm that invests in cloud computing among other technologies.

As these investments continue to grow, Waxman says IDC forecasts investments in cloud infrastructure will triple in between now and 2020. "What needs to happen is cloud for all," he said.

One barrier to such growth is the adoption of standards. Waxman said there is still a lot of fragmentation in cloud computing. "Open source has been a great enabler, but even there, there are some cases where people are holding back and not putting out the full features needed to let the industry move forward," he said. "Intel will not sit by."

Waxman said one example of Intel being proactive on the standards front is work it's doing with open source developers CoreOS and Mirantis to help establish a universal resource scheduler where companies can manage their workload and automate cloud functions.

"You get momentum behind a de facto standard and it creates a virtual cycle. We saw this in the PC industry and the Internet, now it's time for cloud computing," said Waxman.

On the product front, Intel unveiled the latest generation of Xeon E5 server and workstation processors designed to help businesses more easily adopt cloud computing and better manage the increased processing demands coming from mobile devices. Intel also introduced new solid-state drives, including its first 3D NAND drives that the company says are optimized for cloud and enterprise workloads.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...