What is the Intel Hybrid Cloud?

While the cloud computing market is still nascent and most aspects of it are changing every day, a few things should be well-defined at this point. Things like the definitions.
So far the Industry used to recognize three major architectures for cloud computing, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and four deployment models: public, private, hybrid and the community cloud.

When we talk about a hybrid cloud, we usually think about a private cloud that interconnects with a public one, or with a virtual private one, through a secure channel, some routing and a network fencing technology to overcome any networking conflict between the two segments.
In this scenario the customer is supposed to extend his private cloud infrastructure off-premises, and, whenever possible, to remotely control the virtual machines (if IaaS), the application framework (if PaaS) or the web-oriented services (if SaaS) that are hosted in the public cloud with his on-premises management tools.
But Intel is working on a product dubbed Hybrid Cloud that seems to work the other way around. Sort of.

The Intel Hybrid Cloud is a physical server (a Lenovo ThinkServer TS200v or a white label machine that meets the hardware requirements) that Managed Service Providers (MSP) can buy and deploy at a customer’s site.
MSPs remotely control the server out-of-band by leveraging the Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) 6.0, part of the vPro technology.


Inside the server there’s Microsoft Hyper-V, ready to serve a number of pre-configured and pre-deployed virtual machines, including Windows Server and Small Business Server (SBS) 2008, firewall, backup, disaster recovery, VoIP PBX and other software platforms.
Additional applications provided by Intel partners will be published through a software catalog. The MSPs will be able to preinstall their own applications inside the server to differentiate the offering.

SMBNation has three interesting videos about the product, and the last one shows how the management software works.

The customer will be able to “subscribe” the server paying a monthly fee, which will be set by the MSPs.
MSPs will remotely decide what VMs to turn on and manage for the customer according to his choices in this pay-as-you-go model.

The whole relationship between Intel, the MSP and the customer works this way:

  1. MSP signs contract with Intel for monthly software usage.
  2. MSP establishes own agreement with small business customer with markup over MSP cost for software and hardware.
  3. MSP orders Intel Hybrid Cloud Server from Intel’s fulfillment partner.
  4. Server is shipped to MSP.
  5. MSP places server on site at the customer, and configures the system.
  6. System automatically sends secure, encrypted monthly software usage data to Intel. (Only the server is identified; no customer data other than software usage is reported.)
  7. Intel provides monthly software usage report to Intel’s fulfillment partner.
  8. Intel’s fulfillment partner bills MSP for hardware and software usage monthly, and provides copy of usage report for each server the MSP has deployed.
  9. MSP bills end user based on report from Intel’s fulfillment partner.

In June Intel launched a pilot program for US and Canada, and earlier this month demonstrated the product at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2010. The chipmaker also announced the first partners as MSPmentor reports: Astaro, Level Platforms, Lenovo (of course), SteelEye Technology and Vembu.

While the approach is interesting, can we really call it “hybrid cloud” or even just a cloud technology?