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Intel’s Dave Guzzi On The Big Channel Bet, Emerging Technologies And GPU Strategy

Shane Snider

Channel veteran Dave Guzzi is responsible for global channel strategy, value exchange, business results, and end-to-end engagement with OEM, ODM, and distribution partners worldwide. Here’s why he says the technology giant is placing big bets on partners.

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If an iconic company like Intel Corp. wants to bolster its channel partner program, who better to help lead the charge than a veteran executive who led that company’s channel advisory board? That’s the route the Santa Clara, Calif. company took when bringing on channel vet Dave Guzzi last September as general manager for systems and components partners.

Guzzi worked as an executive for more than 30 years with five different Intel partners spanning OEM, distribution and ODM business models along with a wide range of vertical markets. In his role at Intel, he’s responsible for global channel strategy, value exchange, business results, and end-to-end engagement with OEM, ODM, and distribution partners worldwide. Before joining Intel, Guzzi served on Intel’s U.S. channel board of advisors for 10 years, the last two as president.

Guzzi, the former CEO of Equus Compute Solutions, joined up at an interesting time at Intel, to say the least. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has outlined a beyond-ambitious roadmap that includes a massive manufacturing push in the U.S. and Europe that could untether the global tech industry from Asia’s chip dominance. In the short term, though, Guzzi and Intel’s channel team must navigate rough waters with multiple macroeconomic hurdles, including a supply chain snarled by two years (and counting) years of pandemic lockdowns.

[RELATED: Intel Hires Microsoft Exec To Lead Global Partner Sales]

Despite concerns, major tech vendors have posted stronger-than-expected gains in the beginning of 2022, while warning that softening in the consumer tech market could ripple through the business sector as well. Still, Intel has signaled they will forge ahead with Gelsinger’s roadmap that includes billions of dollars in manufacturing investments in Europe and North America.

John Kalvin, Intel’s global channel chief, said Guzzi “brings external perspectives into everything we do and is helping us ensure we best serve Intel’s global partners.”

Guzzi summed up the benefits for Intel’s partner program, saying, “We try to think about the value to a partner being part of the alliance. And we think of it in terms of five key areas. One is to connect and collaborate, so you are part of a community. And that makes it easier to find supplemental partners when you’re facing a hard problem – whether that’s deployment in a region you’re not used to, or solution elements that you’re not accustomed to. The second is just to build knowledge – so that’s where Partner University comes in...”

He talked about a variety of topics during an interview with CRN recently:

What should Intel’s channel partners be most excited about going forward?

I would start with the huge commitment that Intel’s making to fill supply, and also bringing new technologies to market faster. Sometimes, I think the manufacturing side is a little separated from what partners usually think about. But that’s a huge issue for all of us. When you look at the geopolitical piece of it and consider that something like 80 percent of semiconductors are manufactured in Asia. We have this very specific goal of shifting from 80 percent of manufacturing in Asia, to something more like 50 percent. And that’s not just Intel… but we would be looking at 30 percent of semiconductors produced in North America and 20 percent in (Europe). For partners, one of the keys is recognizing that these tens of billions of dollars of investments are so that we have the capacity – in a secure supply chain – to fill the demand that we expect them to help create. When Intel bets $100 billion on manufacturing, that’s a huge bet on our channel partners – a big part of that is our confidence in the channel to deliver cutting-edge technologies.

With technology changing at a constant rate and with Intel shifting focus to more emerging tech like AI, what can channel partners do to keep up?

There’s a small number of critical suppliers in our industry, and partnerships with those suppliers are critical. And having depth of knowledge and depth of relationship is important – along with creating solutions. Our channel partners are the ones that in the end, create full solutions and the rest of the channel players are providing elements of the solution. When I was in the channel as a customer, there were a handful of partners that I knew were going to be the backbone of everything I did. We offer a lot of training, like Partner University, and much of that goes in depth to better enable solutions with Intel. We think our products are really important to the heartbeat of AI solutions and the more they understand our technologies, they’ll create solutions that are even better for their customers.

With the PC market softening on the consumer side after record pandemic growth, how will the macroeconomic challenges impact Intel going forward?

We have the benefit of having a leader (CEO Pat Gelsinger) who’s been in the industry for so long. He spent decades at Intel, and then spent more than a decade with VMware. His view and our board’s view is much longer term than just the next couple of quarters. For those of us in the day-to-day part of the business, sometimes, our vision gets blurred by what needs to get done tomorrow, next week and this quarter. To have leadership and a board that’s viewing things much further out and setting our path – that commitment to the long term is critical.

Intel’s game plan includes going after GPU market share in the data center that’s already dominated by Nvidia and AMD. Why should partners be excited about GPU offerings from Intel?

The number one benefit that channel partners are going to realize is choice. We’ve heard again and again that the market is hungry for an alternative supplier. And it’s going to be a several-year journey to have a really full, robust product line (for GPUs). We’ve been clear in our intentions, and we’ve also not overpromised what we’re going to deliver. I have great confidence that when we’re delivering those products, they will be great. People think of us as a CPU supplier, but Intel has about 17,000 software developer. When you consider the GPU market and you think about the scale and breadth of knowledge at Intel and what we can bring to the markets we choose to focus on, that’s something that should excite our partners – not only will they have choice, but they’ll have great selection.

Can you preview any new plans for Intel’s channel program?

John Kalvin is continually challenging us to reconsider anything and everything in our partner program… How do we make it better for partners? We’re looking at strategic initiatives … Some of that is trying to balance what we can do in the near term versus some of the things we can do longer term because these projects are difficult and more complex. I think if we were going to say there is one thing that will be different, it’s the types of partners we’ll be targeting. We’ve got great hardware-centric partners and we expect to continue to expand the number of partners there. But we expect a great rate of expansion in the cloud software and serves partners. For what has largely been seen as a CPU company, it’s interesting to see how this is progressing.

Shane Snider

Shane Snider is a senior associate editor covering personal computing, mobile devices, semiconductor news, hardware reviews, breaking news and live events. Shane is a veteran journalist, having worked for newspapers in upstate New York and North Carolina. He can be reached at ssnider@thechannelcompany.com.

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