Partners: PC Innovation, Data Center Opportunities Top Intel Solutions Summit Wish List

Intel partners are hoping for deeper discussions about the company’s innovations in the PC market and data center -- and the channel's role in these segments -- at this year’s Intel Solutions Summit.

Intel’s partner conference kicks off Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., where the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company will discuss opportunities for partners to tap into and drive revenue from its hardware, data center and Internet of Things technologies.

’I hope to hear more talk about PCs, both traditional form factor PCs and small form factor,’ said Jon Bach, president of Puget Systems, a Kent, Wash.-based Intel systems builder partner. ’We’ve had a strong year for gaming PCs, with new features like [virtual reality] and 4K, and I hope Intel spends some time on that.’

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Intel is bringing 400 of its top North American solution providers together to focus on key areas of growth for the channel.

The desire among partners to hear more about PCs comes as research firm IDC reported that PC shipments saw a year-over-year decline of 10.6 percent in 2015 due to challenges from longer PC life cycles and competition from smartphones and tablets.

However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel -- analysts point to PC replacements picking up in 2016, particularly at the end of the year, because of a rapid commercial transition to Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system, which was released in July.

[Related: Sharpening Their Skills: The 2016 CRN Tech Elite 250]

In addition to desktops, Intel will continue to showcase its small-form-factor PCs, including its NUC (Next Unit of Computing) and its "PC On A Stick" dongle Compute Stick.

Meanwhile, the data center and the Internet of Things are proving to be strong segments for Intel’s North American channel.

While it derives about 60 percent of revenue from its PC chips, Intel has been investing in its data center group. During its fourth-quarter 2015 earnings report, the company said data center revenue rose 5 percent from the year before, and its Internet of Things group revenue increased 6 percent year over year.

Donna Shepard, senior vice president of Dallas-based M&A Technology, a 21-year Intel Premier Provider, stressed how important data center and cloud services were for the channel.

’We are always looking for ways to manage, store and back up data for all the different client devices. … Data is getting bigger and bigger, and the need for data center has become more urgent,’ she said. ’Intel is always continuing to push the envelope, bringing better technology to the market.’

For Intel Technology Providers, data center covers technologies under the the server-networking spectrum, including cloud, high-performance computing, big data and enterprise servers. But this year, partners say the focus on data center will be centered not on Intel's traditional Xeon server processors, but instead on the idea of software-defined infrastructure as the channel looks to monetize optimized cloud platforms.

The Internet of Things is another focus for Intel Technology Providers. As Intel showcases its IoT platform and products, including IoT Commercial Developer Kits for gateways, partners are looking to have more discussions about how they can pinpoint innovative IoT applications for their customers' businesses.