Liveblog: Intel Solutions Summit 2011

Venetian Hotel Las VegasLAS VEGAS — is live Monday from Intel’s annual Solution Summits at the Venetian here, and will be bringing you live updates from the proceedings from 8:15 am to noon Pacific Time Monday.

Check out the Coveritlive window below for ongoing commentary from the event, which is slated to include keynotes from the company’s top channel executives as well as partner and program announcements.

Expect the liveblog to go live just after 8 am Pacific Time, 11 am Eastern Time.

  Intel Solutions Summit (02/28/2011) 

Good morning…. just settling in for the start of the event. Keynotes are up first, probably starting about 8:30 am Pacific.

Monday February 28, 2011 11:19

From the show floor last night and the stage this morning, it looks like Intel is going to be pushing pretty hard on digital signage as an opportunity for partners within its embedded business.

Monday February 28, 2011 11:28

Also, news on the SSD front with the launch of the 510 line of solid state drives.

Monday February 28, 2011 11:34

Opening video is comparing Intel’s channel partners to Las Vegas itself. Make your own jokes.

Monday February 28, 2011 11:37

Event stats: 400 Premier partner attendees from around 11 countries, 190 sponsor attendees from 56 companies and 14 Intel business groups. 

Monday February 28, 2011 11:44

Really in-depth breakdown of the week’s activities here at ISS — the courses and sessions, timetable of events, etc.

Monday February 28, 2011 11:52

Out to kick off the keynotes, Tom Kilroy, SVP and GM of Intel’s sales and marketing group, expecting something of a state-of-the-market talk.

Monday February 28, 2011 11:57

Kilroy was the channel chief at Intel when they introduced ISS — he starts his keynote off by thanking partners for their role in the company’s $40b+ results.

Monday February 28, 2011 11:59

Kilroy touching on the shift in innovation from business innovation making it to consumers in the past, to consumer innovation making it to business now. 

Monday February 28, 2011 12:00

“Computing has become much more personal, and much more about user experience.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:02

Kilroy gives a personal example of having to give up his iPhone and notebook for a couple of hours to IT. “You would have thought I was stranded in some corner of the world. I was in meetings, walking hallways, but not knowing hot get in touch with people.” The point being — you’re not giving up your device, you’re giving up your connections to people.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:03

Kilroy says 40 per cent of consumer Internet traffic is video — I’m pretty sure this stat (or one very much like it) will come up at Cisco Partner Summit later this week.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:07

“We’re all consumers but we’re all also business people.” And we don’t want separate devices for those increasingly intermingled roles.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:11

Kilroy quoting IDC stats for Internet growth through 2015 — Another billion users, 15 billion connected devices, 1,000 Exabytes worth of data.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:12

“Today, there’s a lot of discussion about the PC as an inferior device to the tablet for content consumption.” Kilroy agrees with that, but expects robust growth in “PC-like devices” that will be used to create the content that’s being consumer on tablets and other myriad devices.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:13

Today, only 1 billion people own a PC… and there’s many more than that who can afford a PC but do not have one, Kilroy says. And there are still 3.5 billion people who can’t afford a PC.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:15

“We are in the midst of an explosion of types of devices,” with multiple categories of smartphones, tablets and other devices. “Most of this is additive,” Kilroy suggests. You might carry a different device based on where you’re going and what you’re doing, but you still have a PC for some tasks.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:16

Device expansion is also going in another dimension… Kilroy moves from personal devices into embedded devices. Las Vegas is a great example, Kilroy says. Many modern slot machines run on Intel Atom or Core processors, plus there are the security cameras, digital signage, etc. “Embedded is becoming pervasive.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:18

Now moving onto the example of stores using touch-enabled digital signage that can advertise what’s for sale down a particular aisle.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:20

Main display of the digital signage unit does anonymous video analytics (displaying  primarily male products to male viewers) and uses a gesture interface. Looks a lot like using Kinect on Xbox 360.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:22

A lot of this digital signage technology came to intel from its purchase of Toronto-based Cognivision last year.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:23

Kilroy says there will be a range “PC-like” touch points for users — from digital signage to in-car computing to smart TV through to traditional desktop, laptop and netbooks, plus tablets and smartphones.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:26

There’s an opportunity and a challenge with embedded, Kilroy said. There’s a real infrastructure change here. For example, for every 1,500 iPhones sold, there’s another server required for the carrier.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:28

Explosion in servers, storage and network “put an incredible pressure on the infrastructure,” Kilroy said. 14 per cent annual growth expected in number of servers, 45 per cent CAGR for storage, and 40 per cent for network traffic.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:29

“We can improve the experience,” Kilroy says. Takes it as a challenge. “Consumers want these experiences to work together, they want a level of consistency.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:29

“We’re taking it as a challenge to enable a familiar, consistent user experience where the devices will work together and very securely.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:30

“We’re not alone in this vision, but we believe we’re uniquely positioned to make it happen, along with you.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:30

Why? It starts with the processors, as they’ve shrunk from 45 nm to 32 nm en route to 22 nm.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:31

Embedded starts with Atom, but as experience expectations move up, finding more applications using Core family processors. Consistency between the families is a differentiator for Intel in embedded, he says.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:33

In the past, Intel has brought out certain of its platform technologies (HD graphics, vPro, etc.) on certain products and not others. “We’re not going to hold back enabling these technologies on a netbook any more than we would on a high-end desktop PC.” Drive all of those technologies across its various product families for a variety of applications.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:35

“Everything Intel will do will be the horizontal computing model,” but going to work more and more with partners on vertical applications. Bring greater sophistication at the core, “but still allow you to innovate on top.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:36

“We’re not confused about the importance of the solutions, or the fact that you have the local expertise,” Kilroy says. “The more we can add software and services and enable you to lower TCO for your customers, the better off we’ll be.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:37

SMB is still the biggest growth opportunity Kilroy sees for Intel, says it “dwarfs” the big business opportunity, and even the consumer market.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:38

And with that Kilroy wraps up his keynote, and hands off to CJ Bruno, pesident of Intel Americas.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:40

Bruno hands off to a video interview with CEO Paul Otellini, starting off by discussing Intel’s record 2010 results. “I was particularly happy with servers this year and with the channel’s role in servers this year.” He says a big part of the 2010 server business success was the channel running with Nehalem and driving the TCO message around it.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:44

Otellini on adjacent and embedded opportunities:

  • The PC market’s not slowing down anytime soon, will double between now and 2015.
  • Adjacent market is shifting to Atom, getting five Atom design wins a day, seven design engagements a day, and a lot of that is coming from the channel. “Our job is to drive Atom across all of these segments.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:46

Otellini apologizes to partners for not being here in person, but says that “the channel remains our largest customers, more than 20 per cent of the company’s business. Gives partners credits for being flexible in expanding from the desktop to the variety of plays Intel’s in today. “I think we’re great partners together.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:47

Bruno: PC growth is continuing, and driving similar growth in the data centre. “We see nothing but a bright future for that need to compute, storage and networking in small business and larger data centres.”

Monday February 28, 2011 12:49

Bruno says partners beat every sales expectation Intel gave the channel in 2010, and drove up average selling prices despite the financial environment.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:50

Bruno says partners are driving the business both in the PC-centric business and in the wide variety of embedded opportunities the company sees. Also have been ‘the segment experts” in successes in a variety of verticals, including education, energy and healthcare. 

Monday February 28, 2011 12:52

North American results, per Bruno: Distributor channel revenues up eight per cent year over year, servers 10 per cent growth — SSD growth 2.6x growth over 2009.

Monday February 28, 2011 12:55

Intel bringing together its Technology Provider and Channel Partner programs under the Technology Provider brand.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:09

Bruno says combined program will include the best of its former Channel Partner (system builder/integrator) and technology provider (reseller) programs.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:10

Technology Provider program will have Platinum, Gold and base tiers.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:10

Bruno says more support options including dedicated partner chat and phone support under new program.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:15

And now some entertainment, as Vegas entertainers The Passing Zone throw scythes around with some poor Intel partner between them.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:17

Bruno now details Intel’s online sales investments. “It will be a journey.” Getting into delivery this year after starting in 2010. Promises to deliver more content, deliver leads for partners, have much richer content for partners and customers.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:23

“You’ve asked us for years to fill your funnel. This capability we’re building is what you’ve been asking for,” Bruno says.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:24

Very different tone here from the rest of the conversation — Seems like Bruno is trying to deal with some of the channel conflict fears that usually appear when partners hear vendors are building on their own sales capabilities.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:25

And with that, Bruno’s presentation comes to an end, as do the morning keynotes. Next up, a press conference that will hopefully provide some more details around the revamped channel program, as well as other announcements from here at ISS.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:28
[Standby]  Heading from keynotes to press conference.

Settling in now for the press conference with CJ Bruno and Intel channel chief Steve Dallman.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:42

Dallman: Channel membership program has evolved over last decades – nowadays, more business models. Intel also continues to grow in terms of its focuses at the same time.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:44

Says Intel’s been trying to redo its channel membership program for years, but hasn’t had the ability to invest in it. But for 2011, they got it done.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:45

Expects to build out the Technology Provider program, both quarter over quarter and year over year.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:45

Dallman said changing partner business models and focuses have weakened some partners’ connections with Intel despite selling more Intel than ever before. Aims to correct that with this program launch.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:46

Bruno says the name was chosen because the Technology Provider name is much clearer — partners get credit regardless of what level of integration or solution they provide. Partners now get the same benefits whether they’re delivering their own system builds or building solutions based on third-party vendor solutions.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:47

Dallman: There are some partner conflict concerns with putting all the company’s partners under the same umbrella, but the program has been designed to try to deal with those challenges and will be evolved as challenges emerge.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:50

Levels – 

  • Base level is just a simple sign-up, and can include consultants and other influencers.
  • Gold Status is based on training criteria – accumulate enough credits and you make Gold. At that point, Intel collects more information on how partners go to market. 
  • Support will be different based on go-to-market — system builders will obviously need different types of support than do folks who are reselling branded servers, for example.
  • Those who buy Intel SKUs from distribution will be automatically seeded at the appropriate level into the Technology Provider program.
  • Platinum level will be based on marketing staff, sales clip levels, and industry certifications as well as more training.

Monday February 28, 2011 1:57

Dallman: “I’m a big believer that nothing should be stagnant.” Expects the program to evolve significantly, and wants to provide partners a “clear view” of how to progress within the program as well adding incremental new tools and resources at all levels of the program.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:01

Dallman says Intel is discussing “merit badges” approach to specializations within the channel program — differentiate those who have particularly deep skills in any given solution area.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:06

Bruno: The vast majority of Premier partners will automatically move into Platinum status. They’ll be slotted for 2011, and then have to meet the new requirements in subsequent years. 

Training criteria starts today. All partner training provided here at ISS will be eligible as training components of Gold/Platinum status.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:11

Dallman: Program launches today, but “effective date” varies around the world, basically with when the local version of ISS occurs.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:12

Sounds like the partner program levels will be pretty status-quo for now, but Dallman expects more “shuffling of the ranks” later this year, as partners re-qualify. Some may move down, but it sounds like Intel is expecting more partners to move up as a result of now getting credit under the program for all Intel products they sell, regardless whether the partner is a builder or reseller of systems.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:24

Sounds like Intel/McAfee is expected to close today, but with the announcement not officially made, the company’s not talking about any plans to align or integrate the two companies’ partner programs.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:28

Next up, a briefing with Lisa Graff, vice president of the Intel Architecture Group and GM of the company’s Enterprise Platforms and Services Division.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:33

Graff discussing the evolution of EPSD (this will be EPSD 3.0), working with more channel organizations in addition to its work with major server vendors.

Three pillars of the new EPSD:

  • More products — Partners are getting much more creative, and the company’s finding Xeon-based systems embedded in all kinds of out-of-the-box applications. Adding options including DC power supply, more and different I/O, etc. Expect triple the number of server products with Sandy Bridge EP, due out by end of year.
  • More software and services — Graff says partners are looking for differentiators to help compete against major multi-national competitors.
  • Quality and support — “They know there’s a price to be paid for quality.” 

Monday February 28, 2011 2:42

Graff says Intel Modular Server is finding its way into “huge, thousands of systems” deals, especially for use in remote branch office. Modular Server is built for SMB, healthcare, education, etc. But the challenge for partners is that these types of customers aren’t often channel users. 

Says that because Modular Server is differentiated and because Intel stands behind partners on it, it’s been able to bring partners into those kinds of big deals.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:48

Starting in the second quarter, Graff says Intel will have 3x the number of products in the server space.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:49

Customers want and need differentiated focused products — but don’t need or want the nightmares of SKU management and inventory. “It’s hard to have your cake and eat it too.”

The solution for Intel, Graff says, is to have flexibility in the motherboards so partners can build exactly what customers want with a limited number of boards — multiple hundreds of different options off a single motherboard SKU.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:51

As well as expanding one- and two-processor options, four-processor options are back with the upcoming generation.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:52

Kickoff of this new roadmap is with one-socket platforms based on Sandy Bridge, launching in the second quarter.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:53

Two-socket Sandy Bridge to launch in Q4.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:53

This year’s rollout will also include new software options — already VMware-certified for servers based on EPSD servers, and Intel is reselling VMware licenses along. Now offering the same kind of deal with Symantec, starting with BackupExec 2010.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:55

Also introducing Intel Multi-Server Manager – single pane of glass remote management console for up to 100 servers. Slated to launch in March.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:56

Third new software offering, for second half of 2011, is Business Continuity Suite, a single GUI to manage hardware, storage/backup, disaster recovery and virtualization.

Monday February 28, 2011 2:57

On the services side: two new offerings:

  • Extended warranty — 3-year is standard, but going into fields like embedded, there’s desire for long life, and sometimes, RFQs require that. Sell-up opportunity for an additional two years of warranty.
  • Break/fix next-business-day service on “most Xeon 5600 and later generation products” – debuting in June “in select U.S. cities.” 

Monday February 28, 2011 3:00

Working with yet-unnamed a third party on break/fix program – expansion plans will depend on success of the program in the cities where the program starts up.

Monday February 28, 2011 3:02