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Intel Taps SaaS for European IT Market

Intel Corp., known mostly for its hardware chips, has been gradually moving into the software cloud-computing space, with support for IT administrative tasks as its initial target market.

IT providers and consultants across Europe will soon be able to use Intel's cloud-computing technology to deliver network management services to their small-to-medium business (SMB) customers. The management capabilities are being enabled via a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering from Intel, according to Intel representatives in a telephone interview conducted this week.

The services derive from Intel Multi-Site Director (MSD), Intel's first branded SaaS product offering. The chip-making company is tapping into a new business segment, and a new customer base as well.

"As hardware increasingly moves toward commoditization, businesses throughout the service provider ecosystem are looking for reoccurring revenue solutions," said Intel's Frank Soqui, director of SMB market development. "Multi-Site Director is a valid business model that will save money and generate revenues across that ecosystem."

First announced in April at the Intel Solutions Summit in Rome, the Intel MSD was launched in Germany and the United Kingdom last June. Plans call for Italian, Spanish and French versions of the platform to be released this year.

MSD leverages a set of technologies contained in Intel's vPro processor. vPro is embedded in companion chips to the Intel Core 2 quad-core or dual-core processors and also in the new Q45 chipset.

vPro also includes a remote management capability based on Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT). Management solutions such as Microsoft System Center Operations Manager and Microsoft System Center Essentials have used AMT since 2007.

AMT allows users of remote management applications to communicate with desktop PCs and initiate management capabilities that power up, reboot, inventory assets, provide patches and more. While remote management capabilities are readily available in North America, SMBs in European countries have relied mostly on manual system management to accomplish the task.

"We've designed Multi-Site Director specifically for the European market to address a large need for not only small-to-medium-size businesses, but also for technology providers looking to change their business model," Soqui said.

European technology providers will pay Intel a monthly fee for the service, which will allow them to remotely manage customer networks in real time.

"There is a definite cost savings for service providers and customers alike," Soqui said. "This is the direction the world is going for small and medium-size business. Europeans are very focused on green initiatives, and because Multi-Site Director can save power with its power control, and save fuel by eliminating drives, it makes good environmental sense."

MSD also makes sense for Intel by providing recurring revenue and expanding its domination in the chip market. While Intel's MSD technologies are not proprietary, Soqui said that MSD's capabilities would be "hard or impossible" to do without the Intel vPro processor.

MSD is the result of an "accelerated partnership" with Ottawa-based N-able, a company specializing in network and systems management software. According to Soqui, MSD uses core N-able software with specific features and functions defined by Intel for the European market.

"North America has access to a wide-range of SaaS offerings, but that's not the case in Western Europe," Soqui said. "We saw growing needs there and felt it was the best place to deliver this product."

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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