Intel's Cloud 2015 vision stretches beyond its corporate headquarters. On Wednesday, Intel launched a coalition of 70-plus businesses that represent more than $50 billion in annual IT investments -- and who have cloud projects in the works.
Dubbed the Open Data Center Alliance, the group is working to plan the future hardware and software requirements for more open and interoperable cloud and data-center solutions. Initial steering committee members are end-user companies rather than tech providers and include BMW, China Life, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, National Australia Bank, Shell, Terremark and UBS.
An Impressive Group
"I was impressed not just by the size but also the scope of the customers signing on," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "You have everything from automotive and aerospace manufacturing, finance and banking, insurance -- basically all of the big data-center customers that have traditionally had very deep investments in scale-up systems."
As King sees it, global customers of this caliber and diversity signing on to Intel's vision of the future sends a powerful message about scale-out opportunities for Intel x86-based architectures. But, he added, it also sends an interesting message to the IT industry about where some of its biggest and deepest-pocketed customers are planning to spend their money.
Accelerating Cloud Potential
"The industry has an opportunity to accelerate the potential of cloud computing, delivering even better industry economics through this transformation," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group. "With the Open Data Center Alliance we now have the world's top businesses focused and actively engaged with Intel and the high-tech industry, accelerating solutions to the cloud's key challenges."
Skaugen recalled how the server industry went through incredible transformations since the Intel Pentium Pro's introduction in 1995. With the alliance, he said, Intel's goal is to make sure cloud computing continues to "deliver breakthrough economics" based on the fundamental principle of "innovation on open, interoperable standards."
Intel plans to deliver products and services in line with the goals of the alliance, working with hardware and software partners to innovate on open standards. The goal is to deliver a faster ramp to the next stage of the Internet and deliver an open, interoperable and secure cloud for the next wave of technology.
Intel Cloud Builders
Intel also announced the Intel Cloud Builders program to provide a path to the Cloud 2015 vision. The company will rally leading system and software solution partners to offer proven cloud-building strategies and practical tips on how to deploy, maintain and optimize a cloud infrastructure.
Intel Cloud Builders will help bring Open Data Center Alliance requirements to life with solutions. So far, the program has 20 reference architectures and represents cloud-technology providers that include Canonical, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, EMC, Enomaly, Eucalyptus Systems, Gproxy, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Microsoft, NetApp, NetSuite, Novell, Parallels, Red Hat, Univa and VMware.
"Even with a data center that is truly x86, if enterprises purchase systems from various systems vendors, you still end up with several layers of heterogeneity that make it cross-system management," King said. "So creating a set of reference architectures that will eventually lead to a smoother systems management and easier life for enterprise customers is a wise way for the vendors to go."