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Intel’s John Kalvin On How New ISV Investments Will Boost Partners

Dylan Martin

In an exclusive interview with CRN, Intel Global Channel Chief John Kalvin says the chipmaker is increasing investments to ensure a broader range of software is ready for new processors as soon as they launch to help channel partners deliver Intel-based solutions faster and with greater confidence.

You said that Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told you to focus more on recruiting independent software developers to the Intel Partner Alliance program. Were there any directives that came out of that?

Pat is a bold thinker, so I think he laid down for us as a partner organization some aggressive goals to dramatically increase the focus from a software partner perspective. And I think it’s one, just partner growth in the software arena. For Pat, he’s driving a broad recognition across Intel that if we win with software, then we’re going to make it easier for our ecosystem of partners to deliver solutions around Intel, and so he’s challenged like, “Hey, grow that influence with ISVs dramatically.”

But it isn’t just numbers. We want to also deliver an incredible level of value to those ISVs, and that extends on a continuum of two major buckets.

One is “get to market,” which is all the work that we need to do with ISV partners to make sure that their code is optimized to run on our latest products and technologies, whether that’s new instructions in Xeon [CPUs] or that’s Optane memory or what have you. And Pat wants to pull forward. I think you may have heard this from him, but Pat wants to pull forward that readiness, so that it’s closely aligned or “day zero” [with] our new products and technologies that come out [so] that the ecosystem of software is ready to take advantage of that right away.

So there’s a body of work around that get-to market effort. And then there’s a related body of work around how do we work with our ISVs on a go-to-market perspective, so that can be co-marketing, co-selling programs, connecting them with the rest of our ecosystem of partners, so that we facilitate the solutioning at a much faster pace.

When you’re talking about being more closely aligned with ISVs on day zero, you mean that when Intel has a new processor family being launched, you want more software optimized for those processors on the day of release or earlier, correct?

You got it. New Xeon comes out, new instructions. We want more software ready to take advantage of those as soon as possible, because that’s how you unleash the value of the innovation that we’re doing in the silicon. You have to have the software ready to take advantage of it.

Clearly, Intel was doing this work before. It’s not like you were just never making sure that the software didn’t work on the processors. So what was happening before this new directive from Pat Gelsinger? What was Intel’s approach prior to this change?

I think there’s multi-decade recognition that the software is important from a solution delivery standpoint and unleashing the value of the products that we create. But I also think it’s fair to say the level of investment or the way that we’ve approached that has evolved over time.

So Pat’s just really putting an acceleration around that body of work. And I think he calls it his 11-year vacation [away] from Intel, but work that he did at VMware [as CEO], he obviously got deep and rich in software and came back with a lot of energy and passion around making sure that we invest at an appropriate level in this particular area.

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