Channel programs News

Intel Shuts Down Channel Platform Group

CRN Staff

Intel's Worldwide Reseller Channel Organization (RCO) led by Steve Dallman and the North America group under it are unaffected by the change, a spokesperson for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker told ChannelWeb.

Intel VP and CPG chief Tom Rampone's status in the company is uncertain. The spokesperson said "there's no longer a need" for Rampone's position as GM of the group but that the executive will be free "to pursue other leadership opportunities within the company."

"Tom Rampone did great things. But the strategic decision has been made that there's more efficiency and quicker decisions to be had by integrating those product development efforts back into our key business groups," the spokesperson said.

The CPG, founded in August 2005, had "achieved its goals" of developing Intel partner ecosystems mainly in emerging markets, she said. Intel's North American partners would be largely unaffected by the change, according to the spokesperson, and recently introduced channel-specific products such as the Intel modular server, the commercial vPro hardware platform for desktops and notebooks, and the Rich Creek 2 custom notebook motherboard would continue to ramp as planned.

North America-based system integrators contacted by ChannelWeb confirmed that they had little direct contact with Rampone's group. Todd Swank, director of marketing at Burnsville, Minn.-based NorTech said his company dealt exclusively with Dallman's RCO and the North America channel team led by Eric Thompson, a statement echoed by Fremont, Calif.-based AMAX Information Technologies' James Huang.

The CPG in recent years has largely focused on working with Asian partners on low-cost computing projects, most notably in conjunction with Intel's Emerging Markets Group on the Classmate PC initiative.

Rampone's efforts at recent U.S. events like the Intel Developer Forum and Intel Solution Summit were firmly focused on the Classmate and emerging market opportunities around small form factor platforms like the Little Falls 2 mini-ITX motherboard. Intel partners said they heard about such products from North America channel managers like Todd Garrigues rather than Rampone's group.

One set of U.S. partners that could feel some effects from the re-organization is the very limited group of larger regional system builders piloting Intel's Centrino 2 whitebook program, such as North Syracuse, N.Y.-based Seneca Data and Minneapolis-based Equus Computer Systems. Steve Maser, VP of marketing at Seneca Data, said his company's interaction with Rampone's group was real but limited.

"Our messaging comes less out of the CPG. It's a re-org, if you will, which they do every other day or so [at Intel]. It should help to bring our channel products to market faster and quicker, not getting held up by some brain trust," Maser said.

"The way I look at it, it's potentially more of an opportunity for us. We've all had our challenges around custom notebooks for some time, but if this gets us better in-geography representation, than it's all for the better. When I talk to my field rep or my mobile guy, if it gets back to the source quicker then that's great."

The Intel spokesperson said the Classmate PC initiative and the Emerging Markets Group were also unaffected by the re-organization. But some sources said Intel is facing real challenges on its laptop-driven model for low-cost educational computing in developing countries.

Intel earlier this month lost Mark Beckford, a top executive on the Classmate initiative, to Redwood City, Calif.-based Ncomputing, which offers a thin-client desktop solution in contrast to Intel's individual netbooks, the model also followed by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

"It doesn't surprise me, given the economic situation," said Beckford about the closing of the CPG, a group that he worked with closely at Intel. Beckford, Ncomputing's new head of global business development, said he switched teams because he believes the worldwide economic slowdown would hasten the pace at which thin-client solutions overtake the netbook model for educational computing in developing countries.

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