Intel builds a private cloud

By reducing infrastructure spending and avoiding building new data center facilities, the company expects to save nearly $200 million

Intel's research and development group was the first internal segment to increase efficiency with an infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service approach, improving its server utilization rate from 59 percent in the first half of 2006 to 80 percent today. By reducing infrastructure spending and avoiding building new data center facilities, the company expects to save nearly $200 million. Following this success, Intel decided in early 2009 to build an enterprise private cloud for its office and enterprise groups.

The Situation: From 2005 to 2006, the demand for new business lines dramatically increased the number of design teams in motion--all of which operated on a non-shared and underutilized infrastructure. This, paired with the fact that R&D represents the vast majority of Intel's infrastructure, made it the logical place to start a transformation to IaaS and PaaS.

What They Did: Intel implemented a grid computing solution inside its R&D environment that features both IaaS and PaaS attributes. The solution is accessible via a self-service portal and command-line interfaces. The portal allows users to provision key infrastructure services--such as storage--in hours instead of months. Perhaps most important, this approach allows Intel to measure what users are consuming.

IT cloud engineering lead Das Kamhout says, "Overall, this represents a dramatic change in mind-set," says Kamhout. "On-demand self-service allows IT to get out of the way of the business so we can up level IT and be a strategic business partner. And with transparent costs, R&D departments across Intel now know what they're costing and what they're consuming."

Why It Was Unique: The combination of the on-demand self-service portal across Intel's entire infrastructure, together with the ability to measure consumption, ensures there is minimal misuse of capacity, thereby allowing IT to efficiently support rapid growth while maintaining high availability of services.

The Takeaway: Having proved that an IaaS approach could work for R&D, Intel IT built the case for replicating those efforts across the organization. The office and enterprise groups' efforts are now under way, with a focus on pervasive virtualization and on-demand self-service for an enterprise private cloud.

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Rick Swanborg

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