Helping Realize Gelsinger’s ‘Software-First’ Vision
New Intel CTO Greg Lavender is vowing an unprecedented persuasion campaign to convince the world’s independent software developers to embrace Intel as their silicon platform of choice over competitors.
In an exclusive interview with CRN—his first since he joined Intel in June—Lavender said the campaign is part of a “developer reboot” he is overseeing that will kick off in public on Oct. 27 and 28 with the Intel Innovation event, a reimagining of the discontinued Intel Developer Forum.
“We got all the great software and hardware, but how do I enable them to want to choose it when they have a choice, and that’s really where we want to reach out in a new way that historically we haven’t,” he said in the September interview for CRN’s cover story on Intel’s “software-first” strategy.
Lavender said the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has done a good job working with developers focused on systems-level programming, so the company is now going “higher up in the stack,” where developers are working on a variety of applications, platforms and software services.
This “software-first” focus championed by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger will require the chipmaker to build “more sophisticated software,” according to Lavender, that will let Intel’s vast ecosystem of partners realize more value from a “total system” perspective and create new business opportunities.
“We need to enable the value of partners and channel and whatever up stack to drive additional value out of that system,” he said. “So therefore, we also have to move up stack with them because they‘re moving to higher levels of abstraction. So when I look at all [of Intel’s] foundational technology—compilers, firmware, BIOS—that’s table stakes.”
Gelsinger hired Lavender in June as CTO, senior vice president and general manager of the Software and Advanced Technology Group, a new division formed that month as part of a restructuring that centralized many of the company’s software efforts under one umbrella.
Lavender previously served as VMware’s CTO while Gelsinger led the virtualization giant. But the two first started working together more than 10 years ago when Lavender ran engineering for Sun Microsystems’ Solaris operating system and Gelsinger was near the end of his first tenure at Intel. The two also worked together when Lavender was CTO at Citibank prior to his time at VMware.
“I guess I wasn’t surprised when he called me up and said, ‘I need you to come over here to help me with my software business [at Intel], because we’ve got a great hardware business but to be competitive, obviously in the AI [and machine learning] space, in the cloud space, we need to bring a software-first focus,’ which he talks about a lot inside the company,” Lavender said.
In his interview with CRN, Lavender elaborated on Intel’s plans to build “more sophisticated software,” enable more value for partners and reach out to more independent software vendors. He also talked about the importance of Intel’s oneAPI unified programming model, how the company’s software strategy differs from Nvidia’s and what kind of new paid software services Intel could introduce.