A few months ago when I interviewed Ross Tisnovsky, vice president of research for Everest Group, about cloud computing, he mentioned an interesting cloud concept he called operations-as-a-service. While software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service seem like no-brainers for many companies, the infrastructure-as-a-service layer of the cloud stack is more problematic, Tisnovsky told me. He said:
Because if you want to carve an application out of your infrastructure, an application with the operating system and hardware underneath it, and you want to put it in the cloud, you're going to have a significant problem with integration, with privacy, with security, with regulations and with data management.
A logical solution to these issues, he said, was for service providers to deliver infrastructure management from the cloud while clients' data and hardware remain on-premise. As Tisnovsky described it, clients could be charged directly per server, per terabyte of storage, per any measure of output. They'd pay based upon their consumption. Like other cloud solutions, it offers scalability, flexibility and predictable pricing. Yet it "is largely missed by suppliers and buyers today," he said.
This may be where Intel is going with its Intel Hybrid Cloud. According to MSPmentor, Intel plans to partner with companies offering security, storage and remote management and monitoring. Those partners will remotely manage the servers (which will incorporate Intel technology, of course) via software. It's already lined up five partners, which it announced at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. (Microsoft isn't officially one of them. At least not yet.)
During the same conference, Microsoft introduced an Azure appliance, which will allow Microsoft to remotely update and issue patches for its software via its Azure cloud computing platform. According to a Seattle Times story, eBay has signed up as a beta partner for the appliance. The story quotes Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's Servers and Tools business:
People wanted what we were doing with Azure and to allow them to run it in partners' databases and client databases.
An earlier MSPmentor report described the Intel Hybrid Cloud's three components:
Depending on service providers' business models and customers' needs, the Intel Hybrid Cloud can also incorporate custom applications and services.
As Ars Technica reports, Intel is bullish on the cloud. The chipmaker attributed a good chunk of its record earnings in 2010's Q2 to strong demand from cloud providers purchasing more Xeon servers.