Intel Hybrid Cloud: Go Big or Go Home
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is at a crossroads. CEO Paul Otellini is preparing to retire; the tablet and smartphone markets remain difficult to crack; and new platforms like ultrabooks running Windows 8 or Windows 7 have yet to ignite major PC upgrade cycles. But there could be a silver lining in all this. It's call Intel Hybrid Cloud. The big question: Will Intel put serius marketing muscle behind this potential channel partner opportunity, especially as partners seek alternatives to Microsoft's discontinued Windows Small Business Server (SBS).
Intel Hybrid Cloud essentially is an on-premises small business server that can link to a range of managed and cloud services. Special offers include a BDR (backup and disaster recovery) appliance running StorageCraft, and Level Platforms software that allows MSPs (managed services providers) to remotely manage and troubleshoot customer systems.
It's no secret that cloud computing and SaaS applications have put the squeeze on small business server sales. But with aggressive marketing, evangelism and partner training, I believe Intel Hybrid Cloud could somewhat stabilize small business server sales while also giving VARs and customers a stepping stone toward Intel-based public clouds from Dell, HP, IBM and other hardware giants.
Intel Hybrid Cloud also goes hand in hand with the Intel AppUp SMB Service catalog, which allows VARs and MSPs to plug additional applications into the system.
Serious Contender or Market Pretender?
On paper it's a pretty interesting strategy. Intel has done some road shows and webcasts to promote the Intel Hybid Cloud initiative. The bigger question: Will Intel's next CEO and the company's executive team actually get behind the Intel Hybrid Cloud brand? If so, perhaps this is a sleeping giant opportunity for the chipmaker. If not, it's time for Intel to halt the half-hearted branding push.
Check the Intel Hybrid Cloud website and you'll find links to some good video content but then stumble onto a blog that really isn't a blog; dead links for a Comonly Asked Questions page; and special offers/promotions that ended back on Sept. 30, 2012. Plus, an antiquated sales sheet from 2011 still markets Small Business Server 2008, a dead-end Microsoft product with no upgrade path for VARs and MSPs.
Memo to Intel: There's one month left to calendar Q4 2012. Decide whether to do a serious Intel Hybrid Cloud push for 2013 or pull the plug on this effort. Either way your SMB channel partners will appreciate the clear guidance.