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Intel Taps Hybrid Clouds for SMBs

Intel is rolling out what it describes as a hybrid cloud service that will allow small and medium businesses to deploy bundled solutions on their premises that would be administered by a managed service provider.

Think of it as having the benefits of paying for Software as a Service, in that customers pay for usage but have the data and apps on-premises. Still, it is managed by an outside provider.

The Intel AppUp Small Business Service Catalog is kicking off with solutions from about two dozen software vendors whose offerings will run on the Intel Hybrid Cloud Platform. Among the software vendors and ISVs whose offerings are in the catalog are Allscripts, Asigra, Astaro, Coversant, GFI, Intuit, KineticD, Level Platforms, Microsoft, Novell, Symantec and Vembu, among others.

Customers will have a server on premises based on Intel's reference architecture by OEM partners that will be delivered by the MSP. Initially single-socket Xeon servers will be available from Lenovo and white-box server vendors, with dual-socket servers to follow from Acer and NEC, and perhaps others in the future. Customers can lease the servers from the MSP or the vendors, Intel officials said.

The Intel Hybrid Cloud software stack provides secure usage monitoring that enables the pay-as-you-go service. The AppUp service catalog consists of a variety of solutions, some that Intel officials outlined on a conference call, including:

  • ERP as a Service: Running Windows Server 2008 R2, Intuit's QuickBooks and firewall, backup and anti-virus software from partners in the catalog.

  • Collaboration as a Service: Windows Small Business Server with Exchange and SharePoint, backup and anti-virus software.

  • Security as a Service: Astaro's unified threat management suite.

  • Backup as a Service: Vembu's StoreGrid backup software, which allows customers to backup locally and to a cloud provider such as Amazon Web Services.

Everybody benefits in this model, explained Bridget Karlin, general manager for Intel Hybrid Cloud. "The small business benefits because they get access to the pay-as-you-go software. They have cloud access to the software catalog for the applications that are important to them, and they have their data on-site, with no capital expenditure up front for the server hardware," Karlin said.

For a physician's office, delivering electronic medical record (EMR) solutions may be out of reach for some, Karlin explained. But if it can be delivered in a cloud model, where the office can pay for it on a subscription basis yet keep the data securely on-premise (a key requirement), that might address many of the barriers to deploying the EMR solution. 

"We've had some of our health care ISVs identify that this is a fantastic solution to take their EMR applications, load that onto the hybrid cloud server, maybe wrap it with some other offerings and basically launch that up to the market as EMR in a box," Karlin said.

MSPs and ISVs also benefit, Karlin said, in that they can immediately convert their customers to a subscription model or take on customers that were otherwise out of reach. "They get access to an online software catalog and from that catalog they are able to create their own offers, they can put together different bundles, wrap their services around it and essentially now create valuable offerings out to their small business customers," she said. "And they get the benefit of a preconfigured server that gets deployed on-site at the customer location that they can conveniently and in a trusted manner remotely manage."

And of course, she added, the OEMs and white-box server vendors benefit because they have the opportunity to deliver their hardware in this new hybrid cloud model.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on May 24, 2011


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