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New Intel Cloud Optimizer Tool To Help Partners Tackle Cloud TCO

The new cloud optimization tool is among a bevy of new tools and resources Intel is using to defend its dominant position in the cloud infrastructure market. ‘That’s going to really help our partners and our sellers have a capability to optimize performance and cost of that cloud instance,’ Intel sales exec Rose Schooler tells CRN in an interview about the company’s data center and cloud strategies.

Intel plans to introduce a new tool that will help partners optimize the performance and total cost of ownership of their workloads on cloud instances powered by the company’s processors.

The tool, called Intel Cloud Optimizer, is currently being piloted internally and will be made available to partners later this year as part of the semiconductor giant’s efforts to defend its dominant position in the cloud infrastructure market against AMD and other players with a bevy of new tools and resources, Intel sales executive Rose Schooler told CRN in a recent interview.

[Related: How Nvidia Is Helping Partners ‘Democratize AI’ For Enterprises]

“That’s going to really help our partners and our sellers have a capability to optimize performance and cost of that cloud instance,” said Schooler, who is corporate vice president of global data center sales.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is developing the tool with cloud optimization software vendor Densify, and “it helps optimize cloud, container and VMware infrastructure to provide recommendations of public cloud instances with the price and performance characteristics required for your specific workload,” according to a white paper on Intel’s website.

A landing page for Intel Cloud Optimizer on Densify’s website said the tool uses machine learning techniques to “optimize existing infrastructure to improve performance and reduce cost​” and “modernize cloud instances onto the best-matching instance families​,” among other things. The tool supports Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, VMware and Kubernetes, according to the page.

Intel Cloud Optimizer is among several new resources coming online through Intel Partner Alliance, the chipmaker’s new partner program that consolidated previously disparate programs and brought together tens of thousands of partners of different types when it launched in January.

These new resources include Intel Cloud.U, a training program focused on cloud architecture, and a team of internal cloud solution architects who can provide expertise across different areas. Greg Ernst, vice president of the Sales and Marketing Group and general manager of U.S. sales at Intel, detailed the company’s new cloud solution architect team in a previous interview with CRN.

“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 in April.

The goal of these new resources isn’t just about helping partners move their customers’ workloads to cloud instances. Instead, it’s about having them embrace cloud computing as an architecture and deployment model across hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments, according to Schooler, who has previously called this movement the “cloudification” of the data center market.

“The word ‘cloud’ led to this vision of a set of hyperscalers, and that’s very true. Obviously they’re pervasive in this market, but it’s also an architecture and a deployment model that’s being used in [communications] and in enterprise [for] on-premise and hybrid implementations, so we realized that we needed to change the approach for our own internal selling as well as selling with our partners,” she said.

For the launch of Intel’s latest third-generation Xeon Scalable processors, Schooler said, the company has refreshed roughly 80 percent of the reference architectures in the Intel Select Solutions program, which was launched in 2017 to make it easier for partners to sell solutions optimized and validated to run on the company’s portfolio of data center products.

Intel is encouraging partners to sell solutions around cloud, AI, 5G and the intelligence edge, which Schooler said can benefit from the company’s new Xeon Scalable processors.

“We are creating a flexible and scalable foundation with capabilities that allow us to meet the needs of those use cases,” she said.

The company has also launched a new program, called Intel Data Centric Solutions Scale, which allows partners to submit their own reference architectures that are optimized on the company’s products. Intel Data Centric Solutions Scale, Intel Select Solutions and Intel IoT Market Ready Solutions will eventually be available through a single solutions framework on Intel Solutions Marketplace, a new directory of Intel-powered solutions that is part of Intel Partner Alliance.

“Our Select Solutions were solutions that we created with our assets working with a partner and really driving that optimization,” Schooler said. “[Data Centric Solutions Scale] extended that capability to our partner community so they can put forth and add different solutions into that portfolio.”

Schooler said Intel’s new third-generation Xeon Scalable processors, code-named Ice Lake, are seeing “tremendous pickup” from hyperscalers and OEMs. She added that the supply situation for the processors is “fantastic,” despite the global chip shortage.

“We’ve planned for the ramp that we’re seeing and planned for upside opportunity,” she said.

At the same time, Intel will continue to sell its previous generation of Xeon Scalable processors, code-named Cascade Lake, according to Schooler.

“We’re going to sell the product that fits the need of the customer opportunity and value that they’re trying to bring to market,” she said, “We see a lot of Cascade Lake opportunity in 2021 coexisting with the ramp of Ice Lake, so yes we’ll see both of those platforms in the market in this calendar year.”

With Intel planning to begin production of its fourth-generation Xeon Scalable processors, code-named Sapphire Rapids, by the end of the year, Schooler said the company is working with partners and customers to ensure they know which platform they should choose for their next server refresh.

“We will work with customers to make sure that no matter what the timing or what the platform that they’re ready with support, the knowledge and the opportunity to manage the platforms that are going to be in the market at that time,” she said.

Doug Bourgeois, a managing director focused on cloud engineering at Deloitte Consulting, the New York-based consulting giant, told CRN that it’s “critical” for Intel to provide a variety of resources to partners for areas like cloud computing and data center architecture because there can sometimes be a gap between what the customer wanted and the solution presented by the partner.

“When Intel is relying 100 percent on the channel partners to convey to them what client needs are, there’s a little bit of a translation issue and gap that occurs,” he said.

Bourgeois said Deloitte has “deep-dive conversations” with Intel architects at the strategy formulation stage as well as the architecture development stage to ensure the consulting giant is using the best technologies to optimize for different workloads. He added that Intel is engaging in more direct conversations with Deloitte’s clients than the chipmaker has done in the past.

“I think they’ve done a really good job in the last few years of having an industry-specific focus in how they go to market and provide those informed architects that understand client needs and can translate that back to the engineering and [business unit] teams,” he said.

Many of Deloitte’s clients are at different points of their “cloud journey,” according to Bourgeois, but one common theme he has seen is the “acceptance of hybrid cloud as the predominant architecture.”

“What that means is that there’s now decision points around, how do I move certain workloads to the cloud, how do I modernize the workloads and data that I expect to stay in some sort of private data center type of a model, and how do I create an environment where I can manage that holistically so that it is cohesive — and we’re working with Intel on all of those aspects,” he said.

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