Partners: Intel’s Hiring Of HPE’s Justin Hotard Is ‘Huge Coup’ In AI Talent Battle

‘This is a huge coup for Intel,’ says Advizex CEO C.R. Howdyshell. 'There is a talent war for executives and technologists that have AI experience and vision for the future.’

Intel’s ability to snatch away Hewlett Packard Enterprise HPC and AI General Manager Justin Hotard to lead its Data Center and AI Group is a big win in what is shaping up to be a fierce battle for AI talent, partners said.

“This is a huge coup for Intel,” said C.R. Howdyshell (pictured above), CEO of Advizex, a Fulcrum IT Partners company. “There is a talent war for executives and technologists that have AI experience and vision for the future. It’s a challenge to get AI talent, which is why you are going to see acquisitions of AI companies.”

Fulcrum IT Partners, for its part, is about to close on the acquisition of an AI-based solution provider, said Howdyshell.

Howdyshell said he was not surprised to see Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger go after a top AI executive like Hotard. “This is a dynamic move from Pat Gelsinger,” he said. “Pat knows how to build a great organization and he knows what is at stake here when it comes to AI. Kudos to him for making the investment. This is an opportunity for HPE to reset and reinvest in a strong leader. HPE has talent and obviously they are committed to the AI market.”

Hotard, a nearly nine-year HPE veteran who has headed up the HPC and AI business for the last three years, is scheduled to start at Intel on February 1.

HPE, for its part, said it is “focused on identifying the best possible leader for this important role and will utilize this transition period to do so.”

Furthermore, HPE said Hotard’s accomplishments will leave a “lasting impact” on the company. “He led many significant initiatives that strengthened our leadership in supercomputing and put a strong stake in the ground for us to win in artificial intelligence,” said HPE in a prepared statement. “We thank him for his contributions to our success and wish him all the best at Intel, where we look forward to continuing our partnership.”

Howdyshell said Hotard’s move to Intel comes with AI as the most explosive growth opportunity ever for the channel. To that point, Advizex recently closed a huge AI infrastructure deal working hand in hand with HPE’s HPC and AI Group.

“I don’t think there has ever been a bigger opportunity for the channel when you look at AI and what is in front of us in the next 18 to 24 months,” said Howdyshell. “There is no bigger single opportunity for the channel. The market growth is there. Nvidia is expected to grow by another 30 percent.”

Howdyshell said he also sees a huge opportunity with Advizex partnering with Dell and Nvidia to grow the AI infrastructure market. Nvidia, in fact, has assigned Advizex a partner business manager to help close deals on Dell AI infrastructure solutions, said Howdyshell.

“Dell is going above and beyond to make sure that they are front and center with Advizex and the partner community on AI and HPC infrastructure,” said Howdyshell. “Advizex is all in on generative AI. We are making a big bet over the next 18 to 124 months.”

Bob Venero, CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Future Tech Enterprise, a top Nvidia AI partner, said the Hotard hire is a good catch and “smart chess move” by Intel.

“Intel needs to make a mark with regard to what they are doing to compete against the Nvidias of the world as well as AMD,” he said.

Intel faces a tough battle competing against Nvidia in the AI market, said Venero. “Nvidia is light years ahead of Intel in the AI and GPU market,” he said. “I don’t know if they can catch Nvidia.”

Venero compared Nvidia’s dominance in AI to Tesla’s market hold on the electric vehicle market. “Telsa is so far ahead from a technology and software perspective,” he said. “Nvidia has that same kind of dominance in the AI market. Nvidia is the father of AI. Look at ChatGPT and other generative AI it is all powered by Nvidia.”

Referring to the Intel Inside moniker, Venero said when it comes to AI it is Nvidia inside. “Nvidia will own the data center and high performance side of the business, while can make a big mark in the client device side of the business tied to their CPUs,” he predicted.

Future Tech, a one time winner of Nvidia’s Americas Public Sector Partner of the Year, ended 2023 with triple digit growth in AI focused solutions with Nvidia GPUs. He expects another banner year for AI sales in 2024.

“AI today is where the cloud was 10 years ago,” he said. “Everything is being driven around AI and the expansion of its capabitities. I see it catapulting the industry even beyond Moore’s law.”

In three years, more than 80 percent of the channel’s sales will be tied to AI, said Venero. “All of the integration services are going to be around AI,” he said.