Intel's 10-Year Channel Anniversary

Ten years ago, Intel launched its first formal channel program. Now, Bill Siu , who was recently named head of the new Channel Products Group, and Steve Dallman, director of distribution and channel sales and marketing, discussed the chip giant's restructuring and drive to re-energize the white-box channel with Editor In Chief Michael Vizard, Editor/News Steven Burke and Senior Editor Edward F. Moltzen. Visit CRN.COM for the full interview.

CRN: What does Intel's restructuring mean for your white-box builder channel and tens of thousands of VARs?

SIU: We are going to pull together the effort that Intel has developed over many years in the channels into one cohesive group, forming a business unit around it, reporting directly to the executive office. There is a very strong message in terms of Intel's commitment and continued commitment to the channels. We are going to increase the focus, increase the commitment and make it a strong thrust.

CRN: How is that going to translate into specific products and programs?

SIU: Intel, across the company, has made a lot of investments in terms of enabling solutions. One of my first tasks is really to find out how we can marshal all of this capability and bring it to market to the white-box builder in a more effective way.

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We soon are going to ramp our dual-core processors. We have new desktop, mobile and server products coming. [Recently] we announced that we are going to accelerate the Vanderpool virtualization technology. All of this means a lot of energy and a lot of excitement in the marketplace, and it will require focused programs from the Intel side, working with our channel partners to exploit these technologies.

CRN: In what new areas will the white-box builders have an opportunity to play?

SIU: Mobile is growing very fast, as you know. So far, I think the channel participation in mobile has not been that significant. It has been impeded by a number of infrastructural issues. [We will be] looking at the opportunities and working with integrators to see how we overcome some of these barriers.

DALLMAN: I can't tell you enough how important it is to have this division in place to tackle those infrastructure issues. [That's] our roadblock to grow the channel in mobile. Last year in North America alone we had 10 percent more channel customers making server products and building servers. Last year, we had 43 percent more customers—integrators and builders—making mobile products and building systems. For the Sonoma launch, we put in place a 25-city training program, where over 900 integrators will learn how to build a Sonoma system in March.

CRN: How will you help partners be successful building bread-and-butter desktops?

SIU: New technologies that we are bringing to market, including virtualization, open up some very exciting value-add opportunities for the channel. I think part of what Intel brings [compared with AMD's] Opteron, is more than just one product and just one component. We bring to the market our CPUs, chipsets, motherboards, the whole enabling program, infrastructure building and leadership.

DALLMAN: These new technologies aren't just a piece of hardware that goes faster or suddenly gets an application running quicker. When you look at the Intel embedded IT strategy, using our active management technology and virtualization, those are solutions that will now be enabled in hardware that could never have been done before. But it is going to require our solution providers and integrators to go into small businesses, where they are extremely strong, and help bring those solutions to market.

CRN: Are customers taking full advantage of all the technologies that Intel brings to bear?

SIU: There really lies the opportunities for the channels and the white-box manufacturers. What I would like to do is really understand how we can work with them more effectively to amplify these technologies. And the purpose of this, aside from the obvious benefit to Intel, is that it brings new value to them. I think we need to change the mind-set here of just saying, 'How come your product is 5 percent more than the competitors?' to focusing on how we together, as the ecosystem, utilize the technologies to generate value for both of us.

CRN: How will you approach white-box builders differently?

>> 'Last year we had 43 percent more customers—integrators and builders—making mobile products and building systems.'

DALLMAN: That is exactly why we are doing the 'platformization' of Intel. We had all these piece technologies that probably weren't being fully utilized and enabled. Look at what we did with notebooks when we brought out Centrino. We were talking about the platform, and it energized the industry and energized enough of our white-box builders, with 43 percent more [in 2004] building [notebooks] than [in 2003].

CRN: What is your message to white-box builders who feel they're second-class to Dell?

SIU: I will make it a personal priority to understand their needs and work with Steve [Dallman] and his organization to talk to them directly and get their input so I understand what we can do from our side to create value.