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Intel plots 'client-aware' cloud services

James Niccolai | Feb. 25, 2011
Intel wants the cloud to be a bit smarter.

"It's not necessarily exclusive to one chip provider or another. It's really more about the value you deliver through that chip," he said.

However, the processor API doesn't work with ARM-based chips, at least in its current version, cutting out most smartphones and tablets.

As well as making the Internet smarter, moving forward Intel hopes the client-aware project will boost demand for its processors. The company often adds new security and management features to its chips, and providing more ways to exploit those could give customers more reasons to choose Intel over a competitor.

"They can say, 'If you pick Intel you get these additional APIs, you get security built in,'" Chang said.

Boitano wouldn't talk about any specific plans for additional APIs, but he implied that a security API could be in the works. For example an application might be able to detect whether a processor has Intel's Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), which aims to guard against root kits.

"Imagine I'm out in the field, I have a PC and I want to access an application back in the data center. I ping it, and the app has the ability to determine whether I have TXT running on my device, and therefore whether I am permitted to download this secure data," he said.

The next version of Intel's vPro processor, aimed at business users, is expected to include a two-factor authentication technology, and Intel's McAfee acquisition should allow it to embed more sophisticated security technologies in the future.

Intel also hopes PC makers will use the APIs as a way to differentiate their products. For example, Dell, which is also working with Intel on the technology, might be able to use the security API to offer its business customers a secure, end-to-end system for delivering applications and data to mobile workers.

"Any number of folks could choose to do this to gain a competitive advantage," Boitano said.

Intel hasn't said much about its "client-aware cloud" project since it introduced the idea last October. But customers will be hearing more about it in the coming quarters, said Rick Echevarria, general manager of Intel's Business Client Platforms division, at a Dell event in San Francisco this month.

In fact, Intel is holding an event in Oregon next month to lay out its "Cloud 2015 Vision." The client -aware cloud is one part of that. The others, aimed more at the data center, are data federation -- or sharing data among different cloud platforms -- and the automation of cloud services.

"We've been somewhat quiet about the cloud," Echevarria said this month. "We've allowed the industry and those who don't understand end-point computing to position the cloud as simple act of presenting data through a browser. We believe the cloud has a lot more potential than that."



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