Intel invests heavily to stay on top of the latest trends in IT, even when it means venturing into unfamiliar territory. Take last year, for example, when the chip maker took a bold dive into Big Data with a homegrown Hadoop distribution. Now it’s hoping to establish a beachhead in the public cloud through the Intel Cloud Technology program, a new partner initiative announced this morning which is designed to let customers reliably compare cloud service providers—without getting bogged down in marketing jargon.
The new Intel Cloud Technology program represents the first major effort by a top technology vendor to address cloud washing on an industry level. Cloud washing is known as the trend of associating the “cloud” buzzword with traditional offerings. With more companies considering outsourcing their IT services, Intel said this is the right time for this type of program because the technology that powers cloud-based services and applications matters more than ever. “The inspiration to create this program came from many discussions with enterprise end-user customers who often expressed their desire to be aware of the technologies powering instances they consider [buying] and their impact on applications performance and costs,” Raejeanne Skillern, Director of Cloud Marketing at Intel, told siliconANGLE. “We have seen multiple cases where the end users were able to save costs or provide better experiences for improved business results when the cloud instance was right-sized specifically for a cloud workload.”
Intel Cloud Technology program
In the Intel Cloud Technology program, participating providers are required to supply customers with detailed information about their Intel-based instances. This information can include details about storage, software and network capabilities, as well as hardware acceleration features and the number of cores available. “Much like when choosing a car, the type of engine that runs a cloud service dramatically affects performance and efficiency,” said Jason Waxman, Vice President of Intel’s Data Center Group and head of its Cloud Platform business. “Cloud customers want to know what technology their applications are running on because it has direct impact to their business.”
Expedient, Rackspace, Savvis (a CenturyLink company) and Virtustream are among the 16 cloud service providers participating in the program as of today. The other participating providers are Canopy (an ATOS company), Cloud4com, CloudWatt, KIO Networks, KT, LocaWeb, NxtGen, Online.net, OVH, Selectel, and UOLDIVEO/UOL Host. “They join Amazon, who announced a similar collaboration with Intel in September, to expose the underlying technology of their cloud instances and promote the benefits to the consumers of cloud services,” said Skillern. “More cloud service providers are expected to join throughout the year.”
In exchange for opening up their environments, participating providers will receive a “Powered by Intel Cloud Technology” badge that they can use to distinguish their offerings, as well as a marketing boost from Intel. “Intel will drive a direct marketing campaign and participate in co-marketing activities with cloud service provider partners,” Skillern explained, ”to educate current and potential users of public cloud services on the benefits of underlying technologies and impact on an end-user’s business.
“For example, informing customers on how technology features, CPU generation or hardware acceleration will impact the performance of specific cloud workloads. Our marketing activities will also encourage [users] to ‘Look Inside’ cloud services for the benefit of Intel Architecture in the underlying infrastructure.”
Skillern said IaaS cloud service providers were offered the opportunity to participate in this phase of the rollout based on having “an existing field relationship, a level of Intel Architecture alignment in their services and a history of successful co-marketing engagement.” She said other cloud service providers may enroll in the program if they meet these criteria as well as the badge use requirements.
To participate in the Intel Cloud Technology program and to use the badge, Skillern said a cloud service provider must be an IaaS provider and have at least one service or instance offering that is based entirely on Intel processors. She said they must use the badge on the service web page or point of purchase console to highlight that instance. “They must also disclose the specific Intel processor type and part number/SKU for that instance,” she added. “In addition, cloud service providers are encouraged to expose other Intel software or hardware technologies (such as Intel Solid State drives, Intel distribution of Hadoop and Intel 10GbE, etc.) in the infrastructure and benefits these technologies enable to end users.”
Pushing cloud transparency
The Intel Cloud Technology program represents a milestone towards industry-wide transparency by removing one of the last remaining barriers to cloud adoption in the enterprise. “For the first time, users will have the transparency to select the technologies that are optimal for running their applications in the cloud,” Waxman explained.
The Intel Cloud Technology program was born out of a collaboration between Intel and Amazon to promote joint offerings. The IaaS giant has been independently working to make AWS transparent for a while now, most recently introducing in November CloudTrail, an API logging tool that lets users track resource usage in their deployments.