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

‘I am here today to personally commit that every single day Intel will work tirelessly to be an incredible partner to you,’ Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told partners in his keynote at this week’s virtual Intel Partner Connect. Meanwhile, company executives said Intel is improving on supply issues, ironing out issues with Intel Partner Alliance and working to improve partner access to resources throughout the company.


Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the semiconductor giant needs to be a “relentless advocate” for partners and ensure they have consistency and reliability with the chipmaker’s products and programs.

“I am here today to personally commit that every single day Intel will work tirelessly to be an incredible partner to you,” Gelsinger told partners across the world in his keynote for the virtual Intel Partner Connect events happening this week. “Together, we are going to do great things for our customer. That is our true north: to work together, to help our customers be successful.”

[Related: 4 Big Changes Coming To Next-Gen Intel CPUs]

Sponsored post

Gelsinger made his pledge to partners at the twice-annual partner conference a little more than two months after he became Intel’s eighth CEO. In those two months, Gelsinger has brought back former talent and announced Intel’s new IDM 2.0 hybrid manufacturing strategy that he said will return the chipmaker to “unquestioned leadership.”

In his keynote, which will air Thursday for Americas partners, Gelsinger said he has asked Intel’s partner-facing teams to focus on three areas for partners, which includes value-added resellers, system integrators, software vendors, cloud service providers and OEMs.

The first priority is to “listen and understand to truly know [partners’] challenges, your opportunities, your needs,” Gelsinger said. The second is for Intel to be “be relentless advocates” for partners, he added.

“A strong voice of our partners permeating across Intel is essential to refine and focus our efforts,” said Gelsinger, who previously led VMware for nearly nine years.

Execution is Gelsinger’s third priority for Intel’s partner-facing teams. This goes for not just the company’s products but also its programs, like the new Intel Partner Alliance, which launched at the beginning of this year and consolidated multiple partner programs, bringing together tens of thousands of partners of different types.

“From products to programs, our teams need to take on the tough challenges and hard work to make Intel a consistent and reliable partner,” Gelsinger said.

For Intel’s partner-facing teams, these priorities mean “discipline, results orientation, quality, assumed responsibility,” according to Gelsinger.

“These are my expectations of my team. My expectation of you is that you will push us to be our best and your best partner,” he said to partners.

Gelsinger’s Intel Partner Connect keynote incorporated previous points the CEO has made in the past two months. They included Intel’s new IDM 2.0 strategy, which includes a $20 billion investment for two new fabs in Arizona; the company’s satisfactory progress on its troubled 7-nanometer manufacturing process; new business opportunities created by cloud and AI technologies; and Intel’s differentiated capabilities as an integrated device manufacturer.

Bringing Partners To The Table, Fixing Intel Partner Alliance Issues

In a session that followed Gelsinger’s keynote, top Intel sales executive Michelle Johnston Holthaus said Gelsinger is “excited, energized and really challenging us, asking us strong intellectual questions about where we’re going, why we’ve made the decisions we’ve made.”

“And I really see us making leaps forward,” added Johnston Holthaus, whose title is executive vice president, chief revenue officer and general manager of Intel’s Sales, Marketing and Communications Group. “He’s been really focused on, as you can imagine, execution, execution, execution, and he means it. He says our customers need to know that we’re going to execute and deliver exactly what we promise. Pat is so bold, he has great ideas, great vision for the company.”

Johnston Holthaus said Intel has moved John Kalvin, the company’s new global channel chief, to her staff to “elevate” the partner role to “make sure that we got the voice of those hundreds of thousands of partners around the globe at the table every day, the same way other customers are represents to make sure we understand the trends, the concerns, the needs of this critical base.”

Kalvin, who was with Johnston Holthaus for the virtual session, reiterated remarks he made to CRN in a recent interview and said he wants to ensure his team is creating better integration across Intel’s partner ecosystem and within the company itself.

“We have an enormous company, an incredible set of capabilities, lots of different partner-focused activities around the company, and I want to try to bring those together, so that our partners, first of all, get ‘One Intel,’ but they [also] get the full weight and capability that exists around the company. And I want to try to do that as simply as possible,” said Kalvin, who took over from Greg Baur as vice president and general manager of global scale and partners in December.

Kalvin said thousands of partners have signed the terms and conditions to join the new Intel Partner Alliance program and that tens of thousands of individuals have visited the program’s unified portal to use tools like Intel Partner University and Intel Solutions Marketplace.

With the new partner program being only a few months old, Kalvin admitted that there are some issues partners have had in accessing Intel Partner Alliance’s online resources.

“It’s been very hard. It’s been a tough program, and some of our partners have had some challenges just in access to the portal and things like that,” he said. “Intel IT, our partner team [are] working really around the clock to make sure that we work through those pretty quickly.”

Kalvin added that he has “big ambitions to amplify Intel Partner Alliance” and add new capabilities to the program over the next few years.

Supply Issues Move From Intel To Other Supplies

Another important issue for partners is product supply, and Johnston Holthaus said Intel has increased its internal manufacturing capacity by two times over as many years to get away from the shortage issues that had lingered since 2018. She added that Intel is continuing to build out capacity, which includes the new fabs under construction in Arizona, but demand continues to be strong as the pandemic has made clear how essential PCs have become.

With Intel’s improving capacity, the company can “build the die to be able to supply well over market demand,” Johnston Holthaus said. However, the issue that that there’s “new industry and ecosystem challenges where the rest of the component ecosystem can’t keep up.” That includes Wi-Fi components, substrates and panels, which are acting as new bottlenecks to industry growth, she added.

But Johnston Holthaus stressed that Intel has “plenty of die,” referring to the semiconductor material that serves as the basis for the company’s computer chips and other silicon products.

“I want everyone to know that those investments are absolutely paying off, and now we got to go work on all the ecosystem pieces,” she said. “We understand those shortages cause a lot of stress and a lot of frustration, and we’re doing everything we can to maximize our mix, our output, so that our customers and partners can deliver what they have committed to their shareholders and partners.”

The appointment of Gelsinger as Intel’s new CEO and the launch of Intel Partner Alliance happened as the semiconductor giant faces greater competition from AMD, Nvidia and companies that are using alternative chip architectures like Arm to build competing products.

Johnston Holthaus said competitors are making Intel better, stronger and more agile. It’s also making Intel’s employees “better listeners,” she added.

To fight back, Intel is “doing much more direct, kind of hard-hitting marketing, to really talk about the advantages of the x86 ecosystem and why buying a PC and having the variety of solutions out there is much better than one solution,” Johnston Holthaus said. She added that Intel has “probably the broadest product portfolio of anyone in the industry.”

“Since Pat’s come on board, we are fired up, and we are ready to go, and we will win,” she said.

Partners Receptive To Intel’s Channel Commitment, Improving Resources

Gelsinger’s commitment to the channel was well received by Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel distributor. He told CRN that Intel’s partner organization and its relationships with partners have long been strengths of the company.

“They’ve been one of the companies that has always really been there to help make sure that the channel is aware of all the changes that are occurring in the market and how they can move forward together, so all those things are great to hear,” he said.

Tibbils said it was also important for Gelsinger to emphasize the importance of execution for partners, who rely on Intel to supply them with a steady cadence of products and product improvements. Those are two areas where the company has faltered in recent years, with Intel suffering from CPU shortages and issues with its next-generation manufacturing processes that delayed product launches.

“Everybody would really like to see Intel start to hit their marks, especially on the release of new products,” he said.

Lisa Groeneveld, co-founder and chair of the board at OnLogic, a Burlington, Vt.-based industrial computer manufacturer and IoT solution provider, told CRN that Intel has been improving its outreach to partners from previous years, when it was more difficult to get an Intel representative on the phone.

“If you think about it, OnLogic, we’re headquartered in Vermont. We’re fairly large for what we do. But in the range of Intel’s customer base, we’re fairly small. And what has really been obvious, especially as it relates to IoT, is that Intel is starting to really understand what the remotest end-user customer needs, but they’re [also] starting to work up through the entire chain of the Internet of Things and are touching upon every player in the middle,” said Groeneveld, who sits on the Intel Channel Board of Advisors.

While Kalvin, Intel’s new global channel chief, has vowed to open up more of Intel to partners, Groeneveld said OnLogic already has a lot of access to resources throughout the company.

“One of the best things about being a partner with Intel is they allow us to reach into their organization to take advantage of their technologists, their engineers, their sales team — like their feet on the street are very dialed in,” she said.