How Intel improved its business agility using the cloud

Srikanth RP| Informationweek

Processor giant, Intel, is a superb example of a technology company that shows the full potential of the cloud for transforming business. Intel began its cloud journey in 2009, when it adopted a multi-year enterprise cloud computing strategy. It also started actively implementing a private cloud architecture to support its business.

Today, 80 percent of the new services are deployed within the cloud, using self-service provisioning to quickly deliver solutions. To achieve even higher levels of agility and efficiency, Intel has created a roadmap to public-private (hybrid) cloud.

By applying key lessons from its Design Grid Computing environment (deployed between 2006 and 2008), Intel started an architectural transition focused on building a secure, service-oriented enterprise private cloud for its office and enterprise environment. Accelerated virtualization and building an on-demand, self-service, and measured services capability played a critical first-step role in this endeavor, along with addressing security, manageability, automation, metering, and employee use model considerations.

In 2012, Intel implemented its first fully integrated hybrid cloud for IaaS, allowing it to quickly launch capabilities where it had no data center presence and scale larger than it could do internally. “In 2012, we launched our first fully integrated, secure hybrid cloud to support our software development teams worldwide. Our hybrid cloud enables our developers to launch services in five to 10 days in a new location instead of having to wait 90 to 120 days for a data center to be retrofitted. Consumer-facing web services can now be quickly scaled for global presence,” states Liam Keating, Intel IT Director, APAC, China & Japan.

Intel’s hybrid cloud hosting strategy enables increased flexibility, allowing it to dynamically adjust capacity within its public and private hosting environments across a wide selection of suppliers. This flexibility is particularly valuable when launching consumer-facing web services, which require high availability and may have unpredictable demand cycles.

This year, Intel took into production an open source private cloud environment that enables it to provide a complete infrastructure as a service (IaaS). “Our open source and self-service model enables us to deliver new capacity faster and at lower cost, allowing us to extend the value of our private cloud to more usages. This supports our roadmap for increasing scalability, solutions, and cost efficiency,” says Keating.

Resourcing for the federated, interoperable, and open cloud

The move to an open hybrid cloud demanded new approaches and expertise as Intel sought to transform data center solutions into consumable services that could be quickly obtained through an open cloud infrastructure. To more effectively implement its open hybrid cloud, Intel formed three new disciplines: cloud engineering, cloud system administration, and cloud integration/brokering. This new operating model broke down traditional organizational boundaries, requiring IT employees in these new roles to develop broad technical knowledge to understand multiple areas of the business. Addressing this requirement will also help Intel move at a fast pace as it embraces more open source solutions, increases collaboration, and looks for more opportunities to automate processes.

On-demand self-service

Building on a foundation of virtualized infrastructure, Intel dramatically decreased the time it took to acquire new capacity using self-service provisioning and extensive automation. “Self-service is now the norm. Most new services are now delivered in 10 minutes or less in our private cloud. In contrast, just three years ago, server provisioning in the traditional IT environment typically took as long as 90 days,” exclaims Keating.

Intel IT is also delivering cost-effective social media capabilities faster to meet business needs. Intel has transitioned from a custom-developed solution to a commercially available software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution with external cloud hosting and on-demand self-service. “Moving our social media platform to cloud services enabled us to deliver 650?percent more social media projects over the last two years. We also saved USD?1.6?million — a  52 percent reduction in the overall cost of service,” states Keating.

ntel marketing teams around the world engage customers through short-term marketing campaigns using agency-developed microsites to promote specific programs, contests, or products. By centralizing the hosting for microsites through an external cloud provider, Intel IT enabled a secure solution for rapidly launching targeted campaigns. This self-service capability can fully provision a hardware stack in less than an hour while saving Intel USD 1.1 million a year.

With the goal of accelerating the development time for cloud-aware web applications, Intel launched its first production pilot for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) on its private cloud using open source software. The result is a 5x reduction in development time through a combination of self-service, on-demand tools and automation. In addition, about 10,000 Intel software engineers are now using an application lifecycle management solution created by Intel IT that enables them to begin designing packaged applications for devices in just minutes instead of having to wait a day or longer for the tools they need.

To enable Intel’s services businesses to meet unpredictable spikes in demand, the IT team increased flexibility by deploying a rapid, elastic infrastructure-as-a-service scaling solution to support externally facing Internet applications.  This SaaS/PaaS self-service solution built on Intel’s private cloud gives its software product teams on-demand delivery of application and product lifecycle management.

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