Are clouds the answer? What is the question?

In a prior post I argued that a lot of the work happening in your data center could probably be done someplace else. One of the counter arguments to this approach is the potential loss of the competitive advantage achieved by owning your compute resource, especially where your competition can not or does not own a parallel resource. There may be some situations where this is true, but in most situations external resources (ex: Cloud Computing) can actually liberate a business from the capital constraints of building a private compute center. If compute capacity delivers a competitive advantage, external availability provides scale to the limits of what an organization use. Like any other resource, the trick is in using it effectively. Ability to take advantage of this resource will be a future differentiator for compute enabled companies. One of my favorite sound bites was an estimate in "information week" stating that a one-millisecond advantage in trading applications could be worth $100 million a year to a major brokerage firm.

Taking advantage of the computing cloud starts to look a lot like the fabled utility computing architecture. Utility computing is real, but Gartner* still places it on decent into the "trough of disillusionment". I agree, and broad availability of utility computing is still a few years out. That doesn't mean IT managers should be waiting.

Why does Intel care? Will processor type matter in this emerging utility era - in the era of hosting, SAAS, and clouds? My short answer is yes. I think Intel has the right products and roadmap to be "platform of choice" in the evolution to utility. My rationale for this position comes from the behaviors of companies doing leading work in these areas. It turns out that service providers want the very best value, where value is measured as a combination of performance, performance / watt, performance / $, platform efficiency, support for virtualization, management, and security. I.E. pretty much the same stuff that every data center manager should value. Intel has focused server platform evolution toward delivering platform leadership in, efficiency, virtualization and performance. Success in these three pillars ensures continued leadership in the data center. Beyond these pillars, Intel is also working with the software ecosystem to enable effective integration and optimization of the rest of the solution stack. The combination of technical leadership and a shared core architecture that spans mobile, desktop, and servers gives Intel a distinct advantage in utility computing.