Intel Channel Chief Todd Garrigues: We Want Double-Digit Channel Growth In 2016

Intel's Channel Goals For 2016

As Intel accelerates in such areas as data center, the Internet of Things, and small form factors, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor's channel leaders are eyeing how its Intel Technology Provider base can also grow.

Todd Garrigues (pictured), Intel's North America channel director, said he would like to see double-digit growth in channel partners for 2016, as well as an increase in the number of training available to partners interested in certain verticals, such as education and IoT retail.

The following are excerpts from a conversation with Intel's Garrigues during this week's Intel's Solution Summit in Orlando on what partners can expect in the coming year from the client computing, data center and IoT segments.

What are your goals for Intel's ITP partner base this year?

Last year we had double-digit growth for our engaged partner base, including gold and platinum members — we grew 15 percent. This year our goal is even more aggressive; we expect to grow our engaged partner base by double digits again.

We have about 4,500 engaged Gold and Platinum partners today and about 24,000 total registered Gold and Platinum partners in North America. Our goal for the year is to get to 5,000 Gold and Platinum engaged partners in North America.

Along with that, last year we were focused on our training engines, trying to deliver that vertical and segment training as well as the product training, and we will absolutely continue down that path this year. Each year we deliver approximately 100,000 training completions into the channel, and that is our goal again this year.

What opportunities are there in the data center that partners can look to in 2016?

Data center is our label covering all things in the server-networking arena. So at a generic level, when I say data center I'm talking about cloud, HPC, big data, enterprise servers and everything in between. In the data center, that has been a significant growth engine for North America and significant strength area for our channel partners. That certainly remains a big focus area for us.

In terms of new opportunities for 2016, topics you'll see on site, SDI [software-defined infrastructure] will certainly be a conversation, OmniPath, for HPC primarily, will be a focus for us, on top of the Xeon stack and what's new and great there.

We're really focused on the other pieces of the data center as well, the other components, whether that's the PCIe-based [solid state drive] SSDs and our strong presence from the SSD perspective on the data center and enterprise, to networking, and the server boards and platforms themselves. These are strong focuses for us in the North American channel.

Describe the community of Intel's Technology Provider base that are tapping into data center and cloud-based opportunities.

We're looking at our channel from two places: the hardware technology and also the solutions perspective.

Whether you're building on components or integrating based on OEM system, those messages and the teachings we want to do onsite are the same. We have OEM partnerships, they bring their gear to market, we want our system integrators and SPs who buy HP or Lenovo products to be educated at the technology and solution level to deliver the best solutions to customers.

[System integrators and solutions providers] are our traditional model over the last few years. And now with the MSP [managed service providers] and CSP [cloud service providers] communities, it's evolving in parallel.

You have partners that do customer build or integration, but also offer public cloud services. That's the part that's evolving and we're becoming very aware of and trying to figure out how to best serve that part of our audience as well.

Intel’s channel traditionally was made up of system builder partners and resellers focused on sales of the company’s hardware segments. However, as Intel delves deeper into the Internet of Things and Data Center, partners are taking on a managed service provider model to build solutions around these new technology segments. Do you see a lot of Intel’s partners adopting an MSP model?

Intel has had focus on MSPs for several years. We ran it like a separate program. The model isn't as prevalent in other parts of the world yet, so over the past year, we started talking about how we were more aware of it from a channel perspective.

This year we have a more significant display of, one, the suppliers and ISVs in that space, and two, courses on how to activate and best take advantage of technology solutions available that are enabled by vPro, whether at the management level or the remote management level. So it's very fair to say there is increased investment and visibility for our partners at ISS around that segment.

Talk about the Internet of Things and your goals with Intel channel partners in this segment.

The Internet of Things — in that realm we have a program called the Internet of Things Solutions Alliance. That's a program focused on the industrial and embedded segments. Some of the key players in that market … are the component suppliers in some cases and solution providers in other cases.

Bringing the IoT Solutions Alliance and the Intel Solutions Summit together, we'll have some cross-pollination. The goal there is to help encourage that conversation, so some of our traditional customers in the channel can see these solutions, and explore the question: What could this mean to me?

There's a wealth of IoT opportunities, such as smart buildings, energy management, digital signage, security and surveillance. As we go forward there will be more of those kinds of solutions that our traditional channel base will be able to look at (and) say "Is this a fit for one of my customers?"

Talk a little more about Intel's partnership with Microsoft. How will this partnership further tie together Intel's sixth-generation processor with Microsoft's new Windows 10 OS to drive PC refreshes in North America?

We want to do co-messaging with Microsoft to say upgrading is a really good deal. But also to say "Here are the technology reasons and solution benefits of Windows 10 Pro and sixth-generation Core processors." We want to say, "Here are the fantastic new solutions that offer your customers new benefits." Part of it's the messaging, part is the acknowledgement that these are some really cool solutions in terms of productivity, security, battery life, and other features.

Once we have the awareness around how cool these things are, we want to drum up excitement about that.

Another goal is between Intel and Microsoft, we want to create more incentive for upgrades. What we're announcing on stage is (a) promotional incentive through our points engine that will be available to all our partners buying through distribution to help motivate them to move forward with sixth-gen core Windows 10 solutions.

How has Intel's client computing segment been for North American channel partners?

We believe we are not opportunity-constrained. So whether its workplace transformation-type technologies like wireless, or like Unite — whether it's the solutions themselves — how amazingly light these ultrabooks are getting, or whether it's the overall performance level of the device, there are a lot of compelling features and benefits that we want to showcase at the client level. These are amazing devices, and we believe our partners can deliver a very compelling offering to their customers.