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Intel's big plan to seed the private cloud market

Brandon Butler | Aug. 5, 2015
Everyone knows Intel makes chips but what's the company cloud strategy?

Intel cloud computing
Credit: Flickr: Wesley Fryer

Everyone knows Intel makes chips but what's the company cloud strategy?

Intel's not building its own public cloud to compete against stalwarts like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure in the infrastructure as a service market. But nor are they sitting idly on the sidelines either.

What Intel is doing is being a sort of behind-the-scenes arms dealer to public cloud vendors supplying them with customized processors to power ultra-efficient and powerful virtual machines. But the company has grand plans for its next move, and it involves targeting not just the big service providers but regular enterprise companies.

Cloud for All

Earlier this month Intel launched the Cloud for All initiative, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. While the public cloud has taken off in recent years, Intel now wants regular businesses to have their own clouds too.

The reason is simple: Private clouds that customers run in their own data centers require chips; Intel is the biggest provider of processors in the market. So, more private clouds equates to more chips that Intel can sell.

Intel doesn't quite put the proposition in those terms. Instead, it says that many more businesses like the benefits that cloud brings, but some would prefer a cloud on their own premises. Diane Bryant, Intel's senior vice president and general manager of the company's data center group, says there are impediments to enterprises more fully adopting cloud. Private clouds today are too complicated to install and manage and the market is too fragmented, she says. "Our goal is to eliminate these impediments and enable the deployment of tens of thousands of new clouds, both private and public," Bryant said during the launch of Cloud for All.

How will Intel help make the cloud more enterprise ready? It's involved in a variety of industry projects, from OpenStack for building open source IaaS clouds, to Cloud Foundry for building open source application development platforms, to supporting the development of standards for application containers. During the launch of the Cloud for All program, Intel announced it would help fund a team at Rackspace to invest in working to mature OpenStack. Intel is seeding the market: It hopes that investments in these projects will eventually lead to more mature product offerings, leading more enterprises to buy private clouds and the Intel chips inside them.

One for the money, two for the show

A closer look at Intel's financials provides more context as to why this is such a big push for the venerable chip manufacturer. During its most recent quarter Intel raked in a $2.7 billion profit, but there are some signs of weakness within the company. Overall revenue was down 5 percent to $13.2 billion.


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