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Intel Launches Hybrid Cloud Service For SMBs

Chipmaker's AppUp Small Business Service will deliver pay-per-use software while keeping data on-site with a leased, remotely managed server at no up-front cost.

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Intel on Tuesday unveiled a hybrid cloud package aimed at smaller businesses and the service providers that commonly manage their IT. The Intel AppUp Small Business Service offers pay-as-you-go software applications delivered online, along with a remotely managed server deployed on premises at no initial cost.

Company executives said during a teleconference that the AppUp service, as part of Intel's broader cloud strategy, is intended to tap rapidly growing cloud spending by small and midsize business. AMI Partners recently projected the SMB cloud market would hit $49 billion in 2015--more than double 2010 spending.

"That represents significant growth," said Bridget Karlin, general manager of Intel Hybrid Cloud. "While we're looking at this terrific opportunity, what does this mean for the small-business marketplace? What are the new opportunities? What are the new possibilities?"

Intel's answer? AppUp. The service, which runs on the Intel Hybrid Cloud platform, will be delivered exclusively via third-party companies such as managed service providers; Intel won't sell it direct to SMB customers.

There are three chief components to the AppUp service: server, remote server management software, and a catalog of subscription-based applications that span a variety of business functions such as security, storage, accounting and collaboration. The catalog will include software from vendors such as Microsoft, Symantec, Intuit, StoreGrid and Astaro.

"We tried to take a look at what are the top things [SMBs] need," Karlin said of the application catalog. "What we've tried to do is come to the market with a wide variety of applications that we'll continue to publish and grow as the service progresses."

The ability for SMBs to customize a package of applications--albeit via MSPs or other vendors--will likely attract SMBs looking to purchase from a single source; AMI's recent cloud research also found a strong lean among smaller companies to bundle cloud services from a single vendor.

While the app catalog's pay-for-what-you-use model will likely hold the marquee appeal for cost-conscious SMBs, the server--which is leased with no capital expenditure up front--is a critical pillar. It enables data to be stored on site, which Karlin said is crucial to addressing concerns about downtime and security in the cloud.

"[SMBs] are uncomfortable about security in the cloud," Karlin said. "They certainly see the benefits and opportunities but are a little concerned with regards to security as it relates to data and access."

The server is likewise important to Intel and its suppliers--it tracks software usage for billing purposes via the Intel Hybrid Cloud Server Manager software. The same software enables remote management by MSPs and other third-party vendors.

Initial hardware options include a Lenovo ThinkServer TS200v and a white-box model. Intel said it will roll out Acer and NEC options later this year, with both the OEM menu and application catalog expected to continue expanding in 2012 and beyond.

Security concerns give many companies pause as they consider migrating portions of their IT operations to cloud-based services. But you can stay safe in the cloud, as this Tech Center report explains. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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