Intel is teaming up with 16 leading cloud service providers (CSPs) to roll out an initiative that aims to provide cloud users with a clear view into the tech powering CSP infrastructure before they purchase any services. Dubbed the Intel Cloud Technology program, the initiative addresses a growing need as the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) trend picks up momentum.
Industry research firm IDC sees IaaS revenue increasing 41 percent annually by 2016. With more companies considering outsourcing their IT services, the technology that powers cloud-based services and applications matters more than ever.
"Much like when choosing a car, the type of engine that runs a cloud service dramatically affects performance and efficiency," said Jason Waxman, vice president of Intel's Data Center Group and general manager, Cloud Platform Group. "Cloud customers want to know what technology their applications are running on because it has direct impact to their business. For the first time, users will have the transparency to select the technologies that are optimal for running their applications in the cloud."
Powered by Intel
Here's how it works: CSPs participating in the new Intel program will be recognized by using the "Powered by Intel Cloud Technology" badge to distinguish their Intel-based instances where the performance and security capabilities of the underlying hardware become transparent to the end user.
Intel points to research presented at the HotCloud 2012 conference that showed
heterogeneous cloud infrastructure environments may result in 40 percent to 60 percent performance variation. Therefore, Intel argued, end users are increasingly looking for more insight into the performance, capabilities and cost trade-offs of the many instances that CSPs offer so they can get the right size and type of performance matched to their specific workloads.
"The key to unlocking flexibility, productivity and cost trade-offs when using the public cloud is choosing a quality provider with platform performance and capabilities that meet our specific needs," said Don Whittington, CIO of Florida Crystals, owner of Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar). "With our CSP Virtustream participating in Intel Cloud Technology program, we are now aware of the underlying hardware powering the services we buy and we can make better choices to ensure we have the optimal workload performance for our investment."
Who Really Benefits?
We turned to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, for his take on the new program. He told us often when a new idea catches fire in technology, it takes some months or years before vendors and customers grasp its full implications and effects -- and that's certainly the case with cloud computing-based services.
"While at one level CSPs are simply selling variants of traditional hosted IT services, the infrastructures supporting cloud-based offerings and the performance they deliver can be wildly disparate, often resulting in a sort of 'your mileage may vary' approach that risks injured feelings, dashed expectations and disgruntled customers," King said.
Overall, he believes the new program will pay dividends for everyone involved. CSP members will benefit from the increased transparency the program offers, both in promoting their services and educating clients, he said, and customers engaging with participating CSPs will appreciate the greater levels of clarity into the services they are offered, along with higher levels of satisfaction with properly configured solutions.
"Last but not least, Intel itself is likely to benefit from the program," King said. "Building what amounts to a 'window into the cloud' should help extend and expand the growth of cloud services that are critical to the company's current and future growth."