Intel Debuts 'Hybrid Cloud' Service for Small Business

Wednesday May 25th 2011 by Stuart J. Johnston
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Intel enters the cloud services business with its focus on small businesses. The hybrid platform provides cloud-based managed services while keeping data on-site.

Intel this week announced AppUp, a subscription-based "hybrid" cloud computing model designed especially for small businesses that allows them to keep their data onsite without having to ante up for server hardware or software.

AppUp's business model is a different one than other cloud services -- one tailored to the needs of small businesses and the managed services providers (MSP) that serve them.

Intel's (NASDAQ: INTC) AppUp Small Business Service consists of a server reference architecture called the Intel Hybrid Cloud Platform, a catalog of applications that small businesses can subscribe to, and a software platform that provides management and tracking of the applications' usage.

The subscription service is provided to small businesses by MSPs, who help set up the customer with an onsite server, and access to the catalog of applications, which are provided by independent software vendors (ISV) who partner with Intel.

"Small businesses need IT but don't want to manage it, and they're concerned about security in the cloud," Bridget Karlin, general manager of Intel Hybrid Cloud, said in a conference call with media.

Intel's software platform is used to remotely activate and deactivate the applications and to provide management functions, including security and billing. One of the benefits is that the customer doesn't need to have an IT staff.

The small business pays the MSP for the applications it uses on a pay-as-you-go model which, in turn, pays Intel, which pays the applications providers.

The small business runs the applications and keeps its data onsite using a server appliance that the business leases or is provided by the MSP, according to Intel officials, so there are no capital expenditures involved.

"AppUp is a very viable model that can give small businesses the security they want but still provide the services they want," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told InternetNews.com.

Although the software and server are remotely managed, customers get the performance and control of running the applications onsite, Intel said.

"Everybody benefits," Boyd Davis, vice president of Intel's architecture group, said during the call. "The MSPs can expand their markets to people who can't afford the upfront costs of hardware and software," he added.

Pund-IT's King agrees.

"The actual intermediaries are the MSPs, and they already know the small businesses," King said. "This gets them another tool where they can engage with those clients."

Intel has already signed up an initial group of ISVs to participate, including Astaro, GFI Software, gloStream, Intuit, Level Platforms, Microsoft, SIOS, Tally and Vembu.

For instance, a small business could sign up to use Microsoft's Windows Small Business Server with Exchange for email and SharePoint for collaboration. Alternately, a customer could choose to run Intuit QuickBooks and use Astaro for unified threat management.

The company says many more ISVs are primed to join the applications catalog soon, such as Allscripts, Apani, Asigra, ClearCenter, Coversant, Critical Links, Elina Networks, Ensim, eTurns, Fonality, KineticD, Lumension, McAfee, Novell, Pragma Systems, StorageCraft, Symantec, and WorkSpace Communications.

"The Intel AppUp Small Business Service provides breakthrough access to an innovative and effective computing model, simplifying IT to empower small business," David Farajun, CEO of cloud backup vendor, Asigra, said in a statement.

The service is initially available using Xeon-based Lenovo ThinkServer TS200v and white box servers, and will expand this year to include Xeon servers from Acer, NEC, and others, an Intel statement said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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