One of the final spotlight sessions on theCube this week featured an in-depth look at the datacenter, with Billy Cox, Director of Cloud Strategy at Intel, and Jake Smith, Manager of Advanced Technology at Intel offering their company’s perspective on an industry in transition. Standing on Intel’s three pillars of federation, automation and cloud awareness, the company is known for its long term vision and ability to bring products to market. When it comes to the cloud, this is a great knack to have, and makes Intel an attractive partner on many fronts.
Years back, Intel went through its own transition for re-working its own cloud systems, finding that different departments now had different needs. Seeking ways for them to work together, Cox encouraged employees to break the rules on what the datacenter is, how it’s designed and how it manages workloads. “We got to the end of our architecture and we saw that we were transitioning into this new world with concentrated application infrastructure, and as you make that transition, you have to start making trade-offs,” Smith builds on Cox’s original point. “Virtualization made that transition possible.”
Translating that internal experience to the enterprise, however, is another story for Intel, and one that brings us into present day. From Cox’s standpoint, determining customers’ needs was central in designing a strategy from Intel. “What the early people did effectively is find new patterns,” he explains. “Look at how you deal with failures and how you manage those applications–that’s a whole different way of thinking about the problem, and virtualization was instrumental in that. What I think we’re doing now is taking those interesting capabilities and putting them into something the enterprise can use.”
And though Intel is going through yet another transition as cloud and mobility become important drivers in the industry, Cox is clear on Intel’s vision for the cloud. And it’s all about automation. “We have an interesting perspective. We get to see a lot of different things,” Cox says. “The federation of automation is making the client aware. We look at the client device, be it a kiosk or a laptop–they want the best experience, from security, storage or power.”
This goes back to the earlier point Cox made about identifying customers’ needs, and creating real solutions. For Intel, it’s not about building technology, “throwing it over the fence” and saying “look what I made!” But instead, with products like Cloud Builder, Intel is taking a step back to see what the pain points are for users. “We took those usage models and went to build OEM solutions, end-to-end, honest to God solutions for those,” Cox persists. “We run use cases against those. For the IT guy, it’s a starting point, not a bag of tools he has to go figure out.”
It’s at this point interviewer Dave Vellante asks for some examples of Intel’s reference architecture, which is breaking down the cloud for more manageability. “If you look at today’s needs, you need flexible storage, and to be able to provision virtual machines in real time,” Smith points out. “And what we show customers is they can do that in a referencable way. Show them if you want to do this with your machine, you have to change this instruction. It’s very referencable, and if you want to solve these problems, you have to show them. We’ve gone from ten reference architectures last October to 45 now, so it’s really gaining traction.”
Intel has an important vision for security as well. “Security has a lot of different facets and we find all of them when we talk to our customers,” Cox says. “From our standpoint, security is something we build into the product. And with Cloud Builder, we show them how to take advantage of that in the cloud.”