I first became aware of Intel's efforts to reduce networking costs, meanwhile, at an Intel Labs event years ago that showcased a technology called "Data Bricks." This was designed to cut the cost of large-scale routers, and I thought it would put Cisco out of business. Cisco was apparently smarter than I was. Instead of ignoring or fighting Intel, the companies partnered-and Cisco may be a big beneficiary of this switch, rather than a casualty.
Intel now says its solution leads the industry in performance per watt per dollar, cost-effective network security and, since Intel tends to use a modular approach, on-demand scalability. These are all critical parts of a network technology competitive review, and they place Intel at the center of a market where it wasn't even a player before.
Is It a Server or Is It Storage? It Doesn't Matter
If you'd asked me a decade about Intel and enterprise storage, I'd have said that market was too far removed from what Intel does. Technology is very customized and proprietary, customers are conservative and the segment doesn't move quickly enough to make sense for Intel.
Then Intel partnered with EMC. Suddenly, Intel is a player and EMC is moving ahead of its competitors-to the point that it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between some servers and some storage systems.
Pat Gelsinger, the former Intel CTO, who was once in line to run that company and is now in line to run EMC, said as much a few months ago. Gelsinger, who's always ranked among the most forward-looking technology executives, expects future systems to dynamically switch functions, so much so that servers and storage systems may only differ by what they do, not what they are.
Intel appears to be on track to help make this possible and demonstrated this week that systems using its technology can provide the highest capacity and accessibility, coupled with the lowest access latency and GB per dollar cost. That impressed me, given that Intel wasn't even a player in this market a decade ago.
Intel to Create the Data Center of Tomorrow
We've entered a period of rapid change for all technology types. Server, networking and storage technology have typically improved on different cadences, with the latter two demonstrating change far more slowly.