With the release of Intel Hybrid Cloud, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has gotten in to the server game for real. This isn’t a real surprise if you were paying attention, and the unofficial reaction is going to be fun to watch.
The short story is that Intel’s Hybrid Cloud is a really cool set of offerings, basically a MSP offering in a box. It is also rebranded to Intel AppUp Small Business Service, mercifully now much more descriptive than the older name. There are several hardware choices, a Lenovo Thinkserver TS200v or an Intel (white box) machine for now, with Acer, NEC and unnamed others to follow. You get a server with a special BIOS and VMM that pulls VMs down from the Intel AppUp store. You can read the official word here.
The ‘Hybrid Cloud’ offerings are not sold directly to users, they are leased to authorized MSPs, who then re-lease them to end users. Part of the offering is service and support, and the MSP can control what gets installed, and add other packages. All end user billing is by the MSP, all Intel financial transactions are with the MSPs too, not the end user. Intel is not actually privy to anything about the end user unless the MSP wants to tell Intel for some reason.
Officially, Intel lists offerings from Astaro, GFI Software, gloStream, Intuit, Level Platforms, Microsoft, SIOS, Tally, and Vembu. From there, you can add software from Allscripts, Apani, Asigra, ClearCenter, Coversant, Critical Links, Elina Networks, Ensim, eTurns, Fonality, KineticD, Lumension, McAfee, Novell, Pragma Systems, StorageCraft, Symantec, and WorkSpace Communications. All software is billed through Intel, and leased monthly, not sold. More will obviously be added on a regular basis, and everything we hear is that Intel is listening to requests.
There are two problems we see here. First is that Intel is stepping in to a market that they have never gone in to before, hosting and leasing software, not to mention selling full servers. This is bound to make the big server vendors very twitchy, even the ones that Intel is partnering with on the project. This niche is very lucrative, and any vendor with a services offering will not be happy about this, no matter what is officially said. Keep an eye open on moves made here, it will be interesting to watch the rhetoric by both sides.
More disturbing is the way the software is ‘sold’, it is part of Intel’s AppUp brand. For those of you that haven’t been paying attention, this brand is the kiss of death for anything from Intel, but given the investment put in to it, the company keeps slapping the moniker on things. While what MS gave Intel to move to Silverlight must have been a very lucrative trade, it makes no functional sense. While this doesn’t change the inherent goodness of the underlying technology, it does make you wonder a bit.
In the end, the whole Hybrid Cloud project was a long time in coming, and seems to do exactly what it claims. The hardware and software lineup is greatly expanded as promised earlier, and everything has been officially productised. Pricing is not directly available, and will be quite variable depending on the MSP that you buy it from, and what they add. It is well worth a look though, it is only a matter of time before a lot of others copy this approach.S|A