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Intel Is Helping Partners Navigate Cloud, IoT, Stimulus Spending

The chipmaker’s partner program is giving channel partners access to new resources, including cloud solution architects and online courses on how to take advantage of new U.S. stimulus packages like the American Rescue Plan Act. ‘What we have done is we’ve looked at every line item — where every dollar is appropriated — identified all the places where technology will be needed and broke that down,’ Intel’s Greg Ernst tells CRN.

Intel Partner Alliance is adding new capabilities to help the chipmaker’s partners optimize Intel-powered cloud instances, build industrial systems and take advantage of technology spending measures in economic stimulus bills passed in the United States.

Intel is adding these and other new capabilities for partners this year as the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company rallies the channel around Intel Partner Alliance, the company’s new partner program that launched in January, consolidating previously disparate programs and bringing together tens of thousands of partners of different types, from value-added resellers and cloud service providers.

[Related: Pat Gelsinger: Intel Needs To Be Consistent, Reliable For Partners]

Ahead of this week’s Intel Partner Connect, Greg Ernst, vice president of the Sales and Marketing Group and general manager of U.S. sales at Intel, told CRN that Intel this year hired cloud solution architects who can help Intel partners optimize their use of cloud instances that are powered by Intel processors.

This new capability will allow partners to benefit from Intel’s deep engineering work with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and other cloud services providers to determine what kind of instances can benefit their customers’ needs, according to Ernst.

“They’re all accessible for conversations with any channel partner whose customers are looking at either moving to cloud for the first time, or more likely, trying to optimize their cloud infrastructure, their hybrid cloud infrastructure and selecting instances, services and then the technology required to transfer the data back and forth,” he said.

Another new capability for partners is Intel Edge Insights, which provides reference architectures for systems required for industrial environments like factory floors, to take advantage of IoT opportunities.

“IoT has been a big market,” Ernst said. “We’ve been investing in this in over a decade. I’d say we’re at a tipping point now where sales for our channel are really starting to boom.”

But the chipmaker isn’t just helping partners on the technology side.

Intel is also helping partners understand where there might be sales opportunities in the U.S. for technology spending measures in the CARES Act, American Rescue Plan Act and other federal stimulus packages that have been passed in the last year.

Ernst said Intel Partner University, the company’s partner training program, now has courses that break down spending opportunities line-by-line for stimulus packages. He added that the company will have a similar course for President Biden’s $2 billion infrastructure plan once it’s passed by Congress.

“What we have done is we’ve looked at every line item — where every dollar is appropriated — identified all the places where technology will be needed and broke that down,” he said.

The first courses are focused on education-related spending measures at the state and local government levels, and they address things like hybrid learning environments and data collection technologies for monitoring students’ progress, according to Ernst.

Ernst said Intel has tracked technology spending measures from the government before, but by incorporating the company’s analyses into online courses on Intel Partner University, the content is more accessible and scalable than previous efforts.

“It was a big ask by a lot of our channel customers,” he said. “They asked us to invest the resources to do it once and then that way they can all benefit.”

The chipmaker is making other investments in Intel Partner Alliance, particularly to reach a broader channel through authorized distributors.

Ernst said Intel is now enabling branch offices for distributors like Synnex and Arrow to provide sales support for channel partners.

“What we’ve invested in is really empowering them to be an extension of our sales force,” he said.

Intel is also giving distributors the ability to provide partners with motherboard design services as part of the Intel Solutions Alliance program.

The chipmaker’s other major priorities for partners include the launch of Intel’s third-generation Xeon Scalable processors, code-named Ice Lake. Ernst said the company has started ramping up shipments of the extreme core count versions of Ice Lake, which go up to 40 cores, to distributors. He emphasized that there will be healthy supply for the new server CPUs when the sales embargo lifts next month.

“We’ve made a really focused effort of getting supply there for third generation Xeon [Scalable],” Ernst told CRN. “So as you [reach out to partners], I encourage you to bring it up because the volume and the commits are there.”

The chipmaker is also pushing partners to use Intel DevCloud, which allows developers to test workloads for free in the cloud on a variety of Intel products, from CPUs and discrete GPUs to FPGAs and VPUs.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest from data center companies who want to use the FPGA as an accelerator, but they don’t want to learn the RTL code,” Ernst said. “So that’s one big thing that channel customers asked us for. We’ve made a ton of progress, and the pickups have been great.”

Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel distributor, told CRN that Intel has made efforts in the past to educate partners on how sales opportunities can align with government spending measures, which is a major benefit.

“Especially when you’re talking about something that’s as complicated and extravagant as a $2 trillion infrastructure spending bill,” he said.

Intel has increasingly relied on distributors to help channel partners navigate the chipmaker’s partner programs, according to Tibbils. That support has been especially important as Intel transitioned partners to the new Intel Partner Alliance program.

“They really want to make sure that they don’t lose track of any of their resellers along the way, so they’re really leaning on distributors to help the [partners] navigate through that,” he said.

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