Intel package enables hybrid cloud for small businesses

Small businesses will keep hardware on site but pay a service provider on a monthly basis for maintenance and applications

With its new AppUp offering, Intel hopes to facilitate a new kind of cloud service for small businesses that have security concerns but want to take advantage of the cost benefits of moving to the cloud.

The service will let small businesses use applications hosted on hardware that is located on premise but pay only for what they use and leave the management to someone else.

Intel is offering the AppUp Small Business Service to third parties such as resellers, which in turn will sell applications on a monthly, per-user basis to small businesses. AppUp consists of servers, a selection of applications, and Intel software for managing and tracking use of the applications.

"The possible lightning that Intel is trying to catch in a bottle here with AppUp is giving people a little bit of both -- allow them to keep data and hardware and applications on site, but doing it with this service-provider relationship that can take some of the management headaches and maintenance headaches off the shoulder of the small business," said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT.

Intel announced on Tuesday that it is making the offering available to service providers in North America and India now. Initially, the Lenovo ThinkServer TS200v will run the software, with additional server models coming from Acer, NEC and others, Intel said.

Through a service provider, small businesses will be able to order applications from software makers including Astaro, GFI Software, gloStream, Intuit, Level Platforms, Microsoft, SIOS, Tally and Vembu. Software from additional providers including Allscripts, Apani, Asigra, ClearCenter, Coversant, Critical Links, Elina Networks, Ensim, eTurns, Fonality, KineticD, Lumension, McAfee, Novell, Pragma Systems, StorageCraft, Symantec and WorkSpace Communications will become available "soon," Intel said.

Small businesses will pay for the use of the software on a monthly and per-user basis. The cost of the server will either be built into that price or will represent a minimal additional cost. Intel did not disclose information about the costs to end users for the service, which presumably will differ based on exactly what software applications they use and the services provided by the third-party vendor.

AppUp represents a new business model for Intel, King said. The company is providing microprocessors for the servers, but it is also serving as a "strategic go-between" between the server vendors and the service providers. "It wouldn't surprise me to see more of this sort of thing from Intel," he said.

The service is built on the Intel Hybrid Cloud, which the company first unveiled last year as a platform that third parties could use to deliver hybrid services. AppUp is a packaged offering, based on the Intel Hybrid Cloud, that includes applications and Intel software that helps service providers manage usage.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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