Intel Hybrid Cloud: Ready for MSPs?

When the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference kicks off July 11, Intel will spend considerable time speaking about a Hybrid Cloud Pilot Program. If it works as advertised, the Intel Hybrid Cloud will allow MSPs to provide on-premises servers to end-customers on a pay-as-you-go basis. In some ways, the Intel effort reminds us of Hardware as a Service (HaaS) options promoted by companies like CharTec. Here's a look at the Intel Hybrid Cloud strategy.

Intel's Christopher Graham (product marketing engineer, server CPU Channel Marketing) and Josh Hilliker (director of small business initiatives) have been on their soap box in recent weeks evangelizing the Intel Hybid Cloud. That effort will continue at Microsoft WPC, where Intel will demonstrate the solution. The concept is pretty simple: MSPs can deploy a specialized Lenovo ThinkServer TS200V or white box server on a customer premise. The MSPs, in turn, can remotely manage that server. And the server can tap off-premise cloud services, if needed. End customers pay a monthly fee for the total solution.

The solution includes three components:

  1. Intel Hybrid Cloud Server Manager: A software application that allows MSPs to remotely monitor and manage the server. We're double-checking to determine whether Intel developed this software on its own, or if Intel licensed the RMM software from a third-party.
  2. Intel Hybrid Cloud Catalog: Initial software options include firewall and unified threat management (UTM); remote management, back-up, disaster recovery and VoIP-PBX functions. Here again, we're checking to see which third-party software companies are involved in the catalog. Intel also says the catalog will expand over time. Initially, it sounds like the catalog is built atop Windows Server 2008 and Windows Small Business Server 2008 options.
  3. Intel Hybrid Cloud Server Options: A Lenovo ThinkServer TS20ov or white box server available in multiple Xeon configurations.
An MSP can also load up his own personal applications and services and structure pricing as needed. If there's a custom VM that needs to be run to load up a specific application, that can be done as well.

What's In A Name?

Intel is dubbing this a 'hybrid' cloud because the device works like a private cloud when it's at the customer's site and when the MSP manages it (through a web portal). But the server can also reach out to clouds the MSP manages (for backup) or even Intel's cloud. Intel is also supporting an online community for MSPs who are utilizing these hybrid solutions as a place where they can collaborate and talk shop among themselves.

When I spoke to Graham and Hilliker regarding price points and the terms of agreement, they declined to share specifics, noting that the hybrid cloud effort details were under NDA. The actual SaaS/HaaS solution will be on display and demoed at Microsoft's World Wide Partner Conference and Intel is looking to "recruit a set number of MSPs [and] broaden [the program] sometime next year" in 2011.

During the Microsoft conference, we'll seek to determine which ISVs (backup, PBX, security, etc.) Intel is leveraging for the Hybrid Cloud solution.

In some ways, the Intel Hybrid Cloud effort reminds us of existing HaaS initiatives. CharTec, for instance, offers HaaS servers pre-loaded with Level Platforms' managed services software. And Lenovo has been in the market promoting its MSP-centric server since April 2010.

Learning From History?

Intel has paid close attention to the managed services market but not all of the chip giant's efforts have succeeded. Back in 2009, Intel leveraged N-able's software code in an attempt to build a managed services cloud across Europe. But Intel ultimately abandoned the effort, called Multi-Site Director, because it wasn't cost effective to customize the cloud for all of the localization requirements across Europe.

We'll be watching to see if Intel has more success with Intel Hybrid Cloud.

Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri. Sign up for MSPmentor’s weekly Enewsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. And follow us via RSS, Facebook, Identi.ca; and Twitter. Plus, check out more MSP voices at www.MSPtweet.com.


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