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Intel's Lisa Spelman: Why Optane DC Is Winning Over Customers

'The part that's been interesting has been—and I feel good because I said this before launch—was once we get the product in the hands of customers, they will do things with it that we didn't think to do,' Intel Xeon and Memory Chief Lisa Spelman tells CRN in an interview.

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High Conversion Rate For Optane Proofs Of Concept

Lisa Spelman says Intel's Optane DC persistent memory is winning over data center customers running proofs of concept at a high rate as interest expands beyond the virtualization and in-memory database applications that got the new memory type up and running.

"One of the things that we're just getting into now is the conversion rate, so we're getting high 80 [percent to] 90-plus percent conversion of proof of concept into deployment, which is insane," she said in an interview with CRN at CES 2020 earlier in January.

[Related: Intel: Xeon Supply Is Not Constrained, Delays Can Happen ]

In her new role as vice president and general manager of Intel's Xeon and Memory Group, Spelman is charged with leading product strategy and marketing for server workloads that can take advantage of Intel's Xeon processors and Optane memory combined. The group was created in November when Intel quietly reorganized its Data Center Group into the Data Platforms Group.

Last year saw the official launch of Intel Optane DC persistent memory, a new tier of memory that combines the persistent qualities of storage with performance that nearly rivals DRAM. The company is hoping it will give customers extra incentive to buy Intel's second-generation Xeon Scalable processors as it faces greater competition from rival AMD since it's only compatible with that processor family.

While it's still early innings for Optane DC, Intel has already racked up a couple of major wins for the product line: a multiyear partnership with SAP to optimize the software company's applications on Xeon and Optane as well as a deal to put Optane DC into Oracle's new Exadata X8M sever platform.

In an example of how Optane DC can benefit certain workloads, Intel has previously said that the memory type can reduce the data recovery time of a 6-TB SAP HANA instance from 50 minutes to four minutes since the product's persistent qualities make it more resilient to server outages.

In her interview with CRN, Spelman highlighted Intel's more than 200 ongoing proofs of concept with large enterprises using Optane DC and said this year is about expanding the market for the persistent memory product line, which happens to be suited for high-performance computing with large data sets.

"The part that's been interesting has been—and I feel good because I said this before launch—was once we get the product in the hands of customers, they will do things with it that we didn't think to do or honestly we ran out of technical resources to do," she said.

The company also plans to launch a next-generation version of Optane DC persistent memory this year while it works closely with SAP on the design of a future generation.

"They're working together on what do we need to do with the hardware changes we're making on the software side for the next-next generation," Spelman said.

What follows is an edited version of CRN's interview with Spelman, who talked about why Optane DC is winning over customers, how Intel is working with SAP, which applications Intel plans to target next with Optane DC and why channel partners should stick with Intel as AMD finds momentum.

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