Intel Announces Collaborations with Rackspace and Micron

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  July 29, 2015

Intel recently announced key collaborative efforts with two of its strategic partners:

  1. On July 23rd, as part of a new Cloud for All initiative, Intel said it will work with Rackspace to establish an OpenStack Innovation Center to drive enterprise features and scale optimizations into the OpenStack source code. The new Innovation Center will include the world’s largest OpenStack developer cloud consisting of two 1,000-node clusters to support advanced, large-scale testing of OpenStack performance, code and new features. These clusters are expected to be available within the next six months. The companies will also focus on the delivery of new enterprise features and optimizations that are aligned with the OpenStack Enterprise Working Group and community priorities. These efforts all aim to accelerate cloud adoption by making public, private and hybrid cloud solutions easier to deploy.
  2. On July 27th, Intel and Micron unveiled 3D XPoint, a new non-volatile memory technology that they said combines the performance, density, power, non-volatility and cost advantages of all other available memory technologies on the market today. According to the companies, 3D XPoint is up to 1,000 times faster and has up to 1,000 times greater endurance than NAND, and is 10 times denser than conventional memory. As such, it has the potential to revolutionize any device, application or service that benefits from fast access to large sets of data. Now in production, 3D XPoint is the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989.

The pitch

Intel leverages collaborative relationships to capture next-generation innovations.

Final analysis

Collaboration is an oft-used term in the IT industry but just what vendors mean to accomplish in vaunted collaborations is often unclear. More importantly, their final results sometimes fall into the “less than meets the eye” category. However, neither of those points seems to color the separate collaborations that Intel announced with Rackspace and Micron. Why that’s the case is worth a closer look.

The effort with Rackspace should deliver practical benefits for both companies. In Rackspace’s case, though it was one of the originators (with NASA) of OpenStack, the company has faced challenges in capturing significant financial and other benefits from the popular open source cloud software platform. Working with Intel on the new OpenStack Innovation Center should provide Rackspace opportunities to demonstrate its acumen to numerous developers and their employers. The company operates OpenStack at scale, and its deep knowledge of the platform is likely to lead to valuable consulting and other commercial engagements.

But the deal should also benefit Intel. The OpenStack Innovation Center will certainly give the company regular occasions to highlight its latest data center technologies and solutions. But its experience in optimizing hardware and software, in concert with Rackspace’s OpenStack expertise should also result in core contributions to the OpenStack kernel and help ease clients’ deployment issues. These points, in turn, should improve, encourage and advance the adoption of cloud infrastructures by enterprises and cloud service providers.

The Innovation Center will place Intel in close contact with developers doing innovative work in key cloud applications and workloads. But easing cloud deployment and management processes will offer customers incentives to invest in those technologies. Finally, Innovation Center encounters should provide Intel information and insights for evolving new cloud-centric strategic relationships and next generation solutions, and thus contribute to the success of the Cloud for All initiative.

The new 3D XPoint memory technology that arose from Intel’s collaboration with Micron is an entirely different sort of effort. In this case, the companies synergistically leveraged each other’s core strengths and experience – Micron in memory development and Intel’s in materials science and manufacturing processes – with what appear to be breakthrough results. In fact, if the companies can deliver on their claims of orders of magnitude better speed, endurance and density, 3D XPoint could change the game in numerous existing computing products and scenarios, and inspire next generation and entirely new solutions.

The partnership could also result in substantial revenue for both companies. That would be welcome news for Intel whose shares have been challenged due to issues in PC and mobile markets. But it would also benefit Micron, which has been suffering its own woes, to the point of being a rumored takeover target by China’s Tsinghua Group. Given the growing, critical importance of memory in both consumer and business computing, 3D XPoint promises to be a timely and impactful effort for both companies.

Overall, these announcements show Intel doing what it does best but also substantially extending those efforts through creative collaborations with innovative partners Rackspace and Micron. As a result, all three companies have opened the door to potential strategic and financial benefits, but they should also achieve those results with substantially less work and risk than they would have had they pursued these projects individually. In essence, these announcements both qualify as “more than meets the eye” collaborations that offer good news for the companies and their customers.

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