With Intel’s Developer Forum (IDF) just around the corner, it’s a great time to assess the company’s current position and likely moves as it addresses tumultuous changes in its primary consumer and enterprise businesses. As I detail in this column, for IT managers, the focus should be less on PC and mobile processors, or whether Intel (finally) breaks into the smartphone and tablet markets, but the company’s strategy to become a more significant force, nay perhaps the dominant presence, within the data center. The IA platform in the form of its Xeon line, already rules the server market, with survey data from InformationWeek showing 95% penetration, with 8$% of IT organizations making extensive use of the platform. But Intel has steadily been moving up the value chain to thwart eroding commodification of its core business as white box servers have become almost disposable widgets for cloud providers while the cloud itself takes a larger share of enterprise business.
For over a year, Intel has been spreading its plans to re-architect the data center using a three-part strategy:
- Infrastructure optimization for greater power and workload efficiency
- Extending its processor and component designs to meet new workloads, specifically cloud, big data, HPC, network and storage systems
- enabling software abstraction layers in every part of the infrastructure and hastening the move to the automated software defined data center
At IDF, expect the company to not only detail its next-generation Xeon processors, but show how it is forking and customizing the platform, while still hewing to the IA standard, with new chip modules (in SoCs), coprocessors, accelerators and reference designs to meet the full spectrum of data center workloads; not just enterprise software, but cloud scale applications, big data/Hadoop distributed databases, multi-tenant virtualized server farms, custom HPC applications, storage systems, even network switching, packet control and network services collectively known as SDN and NFV. My column fills in the details of what enterprises should look for at IDF. I’ll be back after the show to analyze the actual announcements.