“Synergy” means creating a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
And synergy is exactly what VNR Tech Solutions, a managed services provider based in central New Jersey, has gotten by combining its existing management console software with PCs featuring Intel vPro technology.
With the synergy of this powerful combination, VNR has achieved:
> An up to 50% reduction in the time needed to resolve a hardware problem.
> An up to 60% reduction in the time needed to resolve blue-screen issues.
To learn more about how VNR did this, we spoke recently with the company’s president, Vince Robinson. Following are highlights from our discussion.
Vince Robinson, president, VNR Tech Solutions
You recommend that all your customers use Intel vPro technology in their PCs. Why?
Because Intel vPro allows us to manage more systems and remediate problems quickly and remotely.
It all boils down to this: Our average client is 30 minutes away, so we end up wasting a large amount of time driving. But Intel vPro-based PCs let us handle more issues remotely from our office. So the technology makes us much more efficient.
And in the future, as our customer installed base gradually becomes more and more vPro-based, this will have a significant positive impact on our margins.
How have you used Intel vPro technology to cut hardware-repair times in half?
If a customer has a hardware issue on their PC, they may be up to an hour’s drive away from us. With Intel vPro, we can diagnose the issue remotely. So when we make the first visit, we’ll take the right part. And we’ll avoid the need for a second visit.
This is a big deal: Our average time savings is 60 minutes. Also, our client is back in business faster, and our communication with the client is clearer.
How did you cut blue-screen repair times by 60%?
With Intel vPro’s KVM [keyboard, video, mouse] Remote Control. It allows us to diagnose and usually fix a blue-screened PC remotely, without having to drive to the customer’s location.
The time savings is significant, about a half-hour on average. Plus, the service level for our customer is improved. Our customers are back in business faster, and they’re saving money through improved productivity.
Earlier, you mentioned improved margins. How does remote manageability of PCs help with that?
Take a client who is 25 miles away. It could take us an hour to get there, then an hour to get back. That can add up to $200 in useless cost, just to drive around.
So any time you don’t have to roll a truck is great. And Intel vPro-based PCs greatly reduce deskside visits.
I estimate that a customer with Intel vPro-based PCs will need just a third of the desktop visits required by a customer who doesn’t have vPro.
During the pandemic, is Intel vPro helping you manage customers working from home?
Yes. With COVID, more and more of our customers’ employees are becoming remote workers. We’ve seen a great increase in the number of PCs that we support in workers’ homes. So reliable remote access is now more essential than ever.
Intel vPro’s superior remote capabilities — and the fact that they’re integrated into our Datto RMM remote management console — make vPro-based PCs ideal for the changes we’re seeing.
In fact, having Intel vPro technology capabilities integrated into Datto RMM greatly improves the value of Datto to our business. So we get a significant additional value for no additional investment.
You favor Lenovo’s PC hardware. Why is that?
Like any MSP, we find that the service we receive from our vendors is critical. Lenovo’s support for both sales and technology is top-notch. If we need something, I know Lenovo will take care of it.
By Greg Baur
Responding to ever-changing partner needs during a global pandemic requires companies like Intel to be creative…and quickly.
I’d like to share some of my reflections. Here’s what it takes to support partners and the community through Intel’s Pandemic Response Technology Initiative and Channel Relief and Support Program, and in a business environment that’s changing daily.
Early warning signs
When troubling news started coming out of China about a virus earlier this year, and as the scale of the outbreak accelerated and started making headlines in countries around the world, our partners wanted to know what we were hearing.
What our partners wanted was reliable, up-to-date information. They knew our wide network of customers and industries and our global outlook could provide the insights they needed.
Even before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, businesses around the world started to face local lockdown orders, causing work-from-home mandates to be handed down quickly. Our partners were dealing with how to get everyone set up to work remotely. They were also looking for help to deliver secure networks with adequate bandwidth to keep people connected.
Once again, information was the most valuable resource to our partners. They were looking for best practices for transitioning their workforce to work at home to keep their people safe.
What’s interesting now as I look back at our evolving response is that, although managing cash flow is top-of-mind today for many businesses, it wasn’t the first concern they shared with us. The first thing they needed was reliable information and best practices to help protect the health of their people. They also wanted best-known methods to secure remote workplaces for both their own operations and the operations of their end customers.
The next area of support was helping partners figure out how to properly run their businesses and manage their supply chains. We helped them tap into our supply-chain expertise with best practices developed in our “supply chain war room,” which was at the cornerstone of our pandemic response.
For example, we deployed a rapid mobilization program and used our cross-company expertise to expedite creative solutions for our providers. Communication was a cornerstone of the effort, both internally with global experts and externally with partners and suppliers. That helped to ensure all our efforts were coordinated.
Coping with mountains — and cliffs
Within a few more weeks, we started to see more businesses impacted. Some of our partners faced a mountain, while others saw a cliff.
With work-from-home orders skyrocketing, partners in the client business needed to get a remote workforce geared up and operating fast. Also, server and networking hardware was urgently needed to support increasing end-user demands. To respond, Intel needed to spin up our supply chain and adjust inventory to support our partners facing that mountain.
While some partners were struggling to keep up with demand, others were seeing some big valleys ahead for their business and cash flow. Our Channel Relief and Support Program was designed to help a broad cross section of partner concerns.
That includes warranty relief and programs to ensure that while sales were being impacted, membership levels were protected and costs were minimized with additional Intel Technology Provider Points offers. We also continued to provide marketing and sales support.
An unprecedented global situation such as COVID-19 requires creativity, innovation and quick decision-making. That’s how we’ll combat the virus, keep people healthy and safe, and ensure students can continue to learn.
Intel’s $50 million Pandemic Response Technology Initiative was created to accelerate access to technology at the point of patient care, speed scientific research, and help students and teachers access online learning.
I have no doubt that our partners will be instrumental in finding solutions to the problems brought to light during the pandemic. As those solutions take shape and are ready to scale, the Intel Solutions Marketplace will help partners make connections on a global basis.
The light ahead
For businesses still in the thick of the shutdowns, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many companies are wondering what the business environment will be like when economies reopen.
While no one can know what the future holds, we can share what we’re seeing around the world. Here’s the good news: As businesses reopen, we’re seeing many companies return to a stronger financial footing.
Looking ahead, we see the client business continuing to be very strong. Companies that can operate with some level of work-from-home status will see a quicker return to “normal.” But where working remotely is not possible, the impact will take longer. Research is also showing that a large percentage of companies will continue work-from-home programs even after lockdowns are lifted.
While we’re all looking forward to getting “back to normal,” we need to realize that normal does not mean what it was before.
The pandemic has changed everything from working at home to healthcare, industrial operations and retail. The pandemic has fundamentally changed how we communicate, work and interact.
We are so interconnected. That’s why we need to support each other. Together, we can survive in the short term and thrive over the longer term.
Stay safe. And stay connected. #iamintel
Learn more: Intel COVID-19 Response and Support Hub
About the author: Greg Baur is a VP and general manager of global scale and partner programs at Intel.
Do you have customers running IBM Cloud Pak for Data? If so, tell them about Intel’s add-on software packages.
These Intel add-ons can save your customers weeks of time in configuring and tuning software for their workloads. Even better, they’re free.
If you’re new to IBM Cloud Pak for Data, it’s a unified, cloud-native platform that provides users an information architecture for AI. And it runs on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, an open analytics system. (As you may remember, IBM acquired Red Hat last year for $34 billion.)
Also, IBM Cloud Pak for Data supports multicloud environments, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and private clouds. Companies use the platform to collect, organize and analyze data, infusing AI throughout their organizations.
Easier deep learning
Now add to this Intel’s Deep Learning Reference Stack. It’s an integrated, high-performance open source stack for platforms based on Intel Xeon Scalable processors. And it gives AI developers easy access to all the features and functions of Intel platforms.
This containerized software stack is easy to install and run. And it could save your customers weeks of times in adjusting and customizing the software.
The Deep Learning Reference Stack works with both TensorFlow, a machine-learning framework for deep learning; and PyTorch, an open source machine-learning library for Python. Both TensorFlow and PyTorch are already optimized for Intel hardware. And both are free with the IBM Cloud Pak for Data platform.
Currently, Intel offers a total of 4 add-ons for IBM Cloud Pak for Data. There are 2 add-ons for the Deep Learning Reference Stack, and 2 add-ons for analytics:
Add-on software for Deep Learning Reference Stack:
> Deep Learning Reference Stack for TensorFlow: To take full advantage of the Intel architecture, and to achieve maximum performance, the TensorFlow framework has been optimized using Intel MKL-DNN primitives.
> Deep Learning Reference Stack for PyTouch: This open source machine-learning library for Python runs significantly faster on an Intel Xeon Scalable processor-based platform than non-optimized versions.
Add-on software for analytics:
> Analytics Zoo for Apache Spark: An open-source distributed deep-learning library for Apache Spark. It helps companies scale AI models for distributed training and inference.
> Intel Distribution for Python: A ready-to-use integrated package that includes prebuilt solutions for data analytics and drop-in replacements for existing code.
Intel’s add-ons for IBM Cloud Pak for Data can help your customers customize their AI systems. They also help your customers take advantage of features built into their Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
Your AI customers can get faster performance from these free tools. Customers can also save weeks of time.
Now that’s intelligent.
Q: What’s under 3 inches long … plugs like a thumb drive into the USB port of a Windows 10, Ubuntu/CentOS Linux or MacOS computer … includes the OpenVINO toolkit … makes it easy to develop computer-vision and AI prototypes for IoT and edge devices … yet retails for just $70?
A: Intel Neural Compute Stick 2.
Intel Neural Compute Stick 2 (NCS 2) is a development and prototyping platform. You can use it to quickly bring computer vision and AI to IoT and edge devices.
Intel NCS 2 is built on the latest Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU (visual processing unit), a dedicated hardware accelerator for deep neural-network inferences. This component, combined with access to the Intel Distribution of the OpenVINO toolkit, boosts the NCS 2’s performance by up to 8x over the previous generation.
You can combine the hardware-optimized performance of the Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU and the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO Toolkit to accelerate deep neural network-based applications to systems with a common USB Type-A port. You can also use the NCS 2 to test, tune and optimize your applications, then move from prototype to production with help from an Intel AI: In Production partner.
Intel NCS 2 supports common frameworks and includes out-of-the box sample applications for easy on-boarding and fast development. And you can run NCS 2 “at the edge” without a cloud-computing connection.
As mentioned above, Intel NCS 2 comes with a free downloadable software developer kit, the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit. It’s a collection of developer tools which can be used to develop and deploy computer vision inference applications across Intel NCS 2 and other Intel hardware.
The Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit also supports frameworks such as Caffe and TensorFlow on Intel NCS 2. Also included are APIs for C++ and Python that you can use to build deep-learning applications.
Models, references included
Pretrained models are included, too, so you don’t have to search for or train your own. These include a smart shopping cart, 3D printing error detection, machine learning for mammography, and coral reef restoration and research.
There’s also a long list of open-source reference implementations to help you quickly deploy projects. These include intruder detection, store traffic and shopper gaze monitors, a parking lot tracker, and a monitor for machine operators.
And once you’ve developed your prototype on Intel NCS 2, you can bring it to production with help from the Intel AI: In Production website. It’s your ecosystem of equipment providers, software and analytics providers, systems integrations, solution aggregators and cloud service providers that can help you get rolling.
Do more with NCS 2:
Think your deadlines are tough? Try making a Hollywood movie with complicated computer-generated animations.
Rendering these animations is so complex, one recent movie, “The Meg,” would have taken a single machine an estimated 113 years. Instead, Scanline VFX, the visual-effects studio working on the project, engaged a “render farm.” This compute cluster was powered by 2,500 Intel Xeon processors and loaded with visual-effects software from Ziva Dynamics. With this render farm, Scanline VFX completed the work in just under 21 days.
The Ziva Dynamics software relies heavily on Intel libraries to let users generate results by running computationally expensive simulations offline. “Intel’s CPU architecture lends itself extremely well to parallelized simulations,” says Ziva’s chief creative officer, Michael Smit. “These need a lot of compute power.”
Smit adds: “Teams using our software running on Intel’s technology are able to decrease turnaround time on iterations of their work, run multiple simulations in parallel, and — as a result — deliver better results in a fraction of the time.”
The Meg: beware the big sharks
The animated creatures in “The Meg” are prehistoric, 75-foot-long sharks known as megalodons. To create these sharks, Scanline VFX ran some 2.7 million simulation tasks, 1.7 million 2D image renders, and 1.3 million image renders. That averaged out to nearly 6,000 simulations and renders each day.
The Meg: happy to eat you
This degree of processing was possible using Ziva Dynamics’ VFX Batch. This software enables studios to distribute simulation jobs to render farms for greater processing capacity and speed. This process is further enabled by Intel Xeon processor computations that can run in highly parallelized scenarios.
“We basically take our Intel Xeon processor–based render farm and combine it into a supercomputer,” says Stephan Trojansky, a supervisor at Scanline VFX. “That’s what makes it possible to create the massive simulations needed in feature films these days.”
Pacific Rim monsters
Another recent Hollywood movie sped along by the powerful combination of Ziva Dynamics software and Intel Xeon processors is “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” This sci-fi thriller features giant space creatures, known as Kaiju, covered with dinosaur-like plates and bony spikes.
Kaiju: not just another pretty face
These monsters were created by DNEG, a UK-based visual effects studio, using AI and machine learning systems powered by an Intel architecture. “We wanted to push the boundaries,” says DNEG’s computer-graphics supervisor, Russell Bowen.
Specifically, DNEG used Ziva Dynamics’ flagship Ziva VFX simulation software. Traditionally, animations are created by first building the characters, then animating them frame by frame. Instead, ZIVA VFX uses advanced simulation technology that lets animators essentially mimic the physics of any material. Created characters can organically move, flex, jiggle and stretch.
ZIVA VFX works by creating physics-based computational models of the natural body features of real people and creatures. The software then applies simulation algorithms based on biomechanics and animated movements.
As part of the development process, ZIVA VFX also allows simulation results to be feed into a machine learning (ML) process. This reduces the data model, allowing it to be loaded into a real-time animation pipeline.
‘Real computational overhead’
To appreciate how big a shift this represents, consider the project’s scale. Some of the shots in “Pacific Rim: Uprising” included 10 Kaiju monsters, with each creature involving as many as 1.7 million polygons.
“There’s a real computational overhead in each of those characters,” says DNEG creature supervisor Adam Vanner. “Ziva software helps us accelerate that process. That allows us to produce characters in parallel and produce great-looking results with fewer resources than we’ve needed in the past.”
For the “Pacific Rim: Uprising” project, all of DNEG’s workstations and servers were powered by Intel Xeon processors. Overall, the company used 25 servers and 3 petabytes’ worth of storage, with systems located in London, Vancouver and Mumbai.
Why so much hardware? In a word, speed.
DNEG’s Bowen estimates that if the company had instead rendered the movie on just one standalone computer with 24 cores, the work would have taken nearly 14 million hours.
In other words, they would have missed the deadline by a mere 1,600 years!
> Ziva Dynamics: Powering the animation revolution (case study)
> Intel and Ziva Dynamics: Transforming computer-generated imagery (white paper)
Imagine having to transform nearly 1,000 hospital-room TVs into virtual care endpoints — and in record time.
That exact challenge was faced by nonprofit health system Banner Health earlier this year. As COVID-19 patients began flooding into Banner’s hospitals and emergency rooms, it suddenly needed a large number of in-room telehealth systems. These systems would let Banner nurses and doctors check in on highly contagious patients without getting sick themselves.
To create these systems quickly, Banner Health worked with Intel and a telemedicine company called VeeMed. Their solution combined VeeMed’s advanced software with Intel NUC Mini PCs.
This telehealth system is now being used in all of Banner’s 28 acute-care hospitals in six western U.S. states, helping staff to provide fast, safe and efficient patient care. The Intel-VeeMed solution also saved a “great deal of time and money,” says Banner CEO Jim Roxburgh.
Simple and fast
Traditionally, telehealth systems were moved from room to room on rolling carts. But the carts can be expensive to build. And they can take months to deploy. In the middle of a pandemic, Banner Health simply didn’t have that kind of time.
Instead, retrofitting the in-room TVs turns out to be a fast, economical and effective way to provide telehealth. As part of the solution, an Intel NUC — a small, reliable and high-performance compute device — is attached to a TV.
Then the Mini PC is loaded VeeMed’s HIPAA-compliant telehealth software. Finally, this setup is augmented with a speakerphone and pan-tilt-zoom camera. Because the setup is relatively simple, each installation took only a few hours.
Banner Health’s telehealth system in action
The telehealth solution lets doctors and nurses check in on the patients remotely; it also lets the patient reply from their bed. There’s no need to interact with a cart, keyboard or other peripheral device.
Doctors and nurses can also monitor patients’ oxygen levels and other vitals. And the camera lets them inspect the patient’s appearance, zooming in to see details as small as the pupil of their eye.
With this in-room telehealth setup, Banner Health enjoys several valuable benefits:
> Higher-quality patient care: Doctors and nurses can check in on more patients in less time, respond more quickly to their needs, and provide personalized care — even during a pandemic crisis.
> Reduced risk: Staff can check in on patients without entering their rooms, reducing their risk of infection and the need for protective personal equipment (PPE).
> Lower costs: The Intel NUC Mini PC can be mounted on TVs at a fraction of the cost of cart-based telehealth solutions.
> Faster installation: Each installation takes hours, not weeks or months. Plus, Intel NUC Mini PCs are easy to store or transport.
> Higher performance: Intel processors offer the performance and reliability Banner Health requires. That includes high-quality graphics for video streams.
> Get a 2-page PDF, “Intel NUC Mini PCs Power the Future of Inpatient Telehealth,” by clicking on the Download File link below:
As business demands become more dynamic, running workloads on rigid legacy architectures no longer makes sense.
Enterprises are shifting from separate storage, storage networks and servers to software-defined systems. A single hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) system enables an agile, scalable data-center foundation that delivers more flexibility, easier provisioning and lower costs.
So it’s no surprise that HCI is a fast-growing market, with a five-year compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 26.6% and revenue expected to hit $7.15 billion in 2021, according to research firm IDC.
Trusted Intel hardware certified by Nutanix
Together, Nutanix and Intel have developed fully validated and certified Intel Data Center Blocks for the HCI market. The result of this collaboration enables you to speed your path to market, grow your business with new revenue streams, and deliver peace of mind to your customers with technology and support from industry leaders.
Intel Data Center Blocks for Nutanix Enterprise Cloud platform are available as configure-to-order systems that include processors, server boards, chassis, power supply, storage, network and memory that have been validated to work together. Value-added resellers and system integrators add Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software to provide a fast route for building on-premises clouds.
HCI and the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud advantage
Your customers are modernizing their data centers, and they need help to transition, deploy and scale. Intel Data Center Blocks for Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform are designed to allow IT teams to build and operate solutions that meld private, public and distributed cloud operating environments, and provide a single point of control to manage IT infrastructure and applications at any scale.
With a hyperconverged infrastructure, separate, siloed servers, storage networks, and storage arrays are replaced by a single scale-out solution, giving enterprises newfound agility.
Differentiated systems with technology leadership
Intel Data Center Blocks for Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform are configurable, starting with two base server configurations:
> 2U 4-node system based on Intel Compute Module HNS2600BP family
> 2U 1-node system based on Intel Server Board S2600WF family
The advanced thermal design of Intel’s 2U 4-node DCB allows for high compute density, including options for more powerful CPUs that deliver more performance in a 2U space and at a lower hardware cost compared to four separate 1U or 2U systems. This makes an Intel Data Center Block based on the Intel Compute Module HNS2600BP an excellent choice for virtualized systems.
Intel’s 2U 1-node DCB, based on the Intel Server Board S2600WF, is architected for up to 24 high-performance flash storage devices, with balanced input and output operations. Greater throughput and lower latency allow for faster access to large data sets, which is desirable for enterprise-class workloads.
Both base systems encompass the hardware essential to hosting the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS. These fixed features include a chassis with redundant power, four computer modules or one server board, up to 24 x 2.5-inch drive bays, SAS controllers as needed per the number of drive bays, redundant cooling, and advanced server management.
Both platforms allow for customization to meet the compute, storage and networking requirements of specific end users. A Nutanix channel representative can also help to provide an accurate infrastructure sizing through the use of the Nutanix Sizer Tool.
Customize your solution using Intel’s configure-to-order tool
Nutanix-certified Intel DCBs are available with a range of configurations for fast, simple and risk-free selection to fit different business use cases — including enterprise applications, server virtualization, virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI), databases and remote office/branch office (ROBO).
Intel’s configure-to-order (CTO) system allows for customization and is designed to take the risk out of component selection, allowing only certified and compatible options. Customers are able to configure a solution that starts with either a S2600BP or S2600WF base platform and allows a variety of choices from the following items to meet their requirements:
> Intel Xeon Scalable Processor (Gold, Silver and Platinum)
> DDR4 memory (16-, 32- and 64-GB DIMM)
> Metadata cache device (660GB to 3.84TB SSD)
> Storage devices (960GB to 3.84TB SSD)
> Networking 10GBASE-T and SFP+ available at launch. 25GbE with RocE RDMA is available too.
Peace of mind with support from industry leaders
Intel and Nutanix are collaborating to provide integrated support to help ensure a seamless customer experience. Intel DCB hardware is backed by world-class technical support and Intel’s standard 3-year warranty from the date of purchase, with optional 5-year warranty plans available for select components. They're also eligible for Advanced Warranty Replacement, allowing a replacement part to be sent before the defective part is returned — reducing downtime and speeding time to resolution.
Nutanix Enterprise Cloud software is backed by award-winning support, industry leading services and global training. Resellers for this joint solution can capitalize on Intel member programs, with the Intel components helping to earn revenue credits and program benefits (points).
Check out these additional resources:
> Get more information on Nutanix Enterprise Cloud
> Learn more about Intel Data Center Blocks for Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform
In technology terms, the year 1975 is another universe. PCs are available only as kits for nerdy hobbyists. Cellphones don’t exist. The minicomputer, that extinct dinosaur, still roams the earth.
But 1975 is also the year Carolina Business Equipment was founded by two service technicians. Today the Columbia, S.C.-based company, better known as CBE, offers print and IT solutions.
CBE’s offerings include managed print solutions, document management, managed network services, computer and network design, antivirus protection, cloud services, and both remote and on-site support. CBE’s customers are home offices, SMBs and enterprises in verticals including legal, accounting, manufacturing, healthcare and retail.
Along the way, CBE started using PCs featuring Intel vPro technology in conjunction with its management console software. This powerful combo has helped CBE enjoy:
> A 50% reduction in the average time needed to resolve an OS problem, from 90 minutes down to 45 minutes.
> A 60% reduction in the average time needed to resolve a hardware problem, from 2 1/2 hours down to just 1 hour.
> A 33% reduction in the time needed to achieve 95% patch saturation, from 90 minutes down to 60.
Matthew Lucas, operations manager, CBE
To learn more about how CBE benefits from Intel vPro technology, we sat down recently with the company’s operations manager, Matthew Lucas. Here are selected highlights from our discussion.
How does Intel vPro technology help CBE save money and time with remote access?
If we have a failed patch, we’re able to remotely diagnose the problem with the system as opposed to needing the client to read the error for us. Being able to take care of software issues such as blue screens without having to roll a truck is a big help to us.
Has that reduced the number of on-site visits and PC downtime?
Yes, with Intel Active Management Technology, we can rectify more issues in the BIOS remotely, reducing on-site visits. We can perform updates in the BIOS without having to roll a truck. This way, our technicians can spend their time working rather than driving. When we need to actually go onsite to repair a machine, we’re able to diagnose problems
You’re recommending Intel vPro on all your customer PCs. Why is that?
We look for technology that makes life easier for our customers. If we can get computers equipped with Intel Core vPro processors, we want to do that.
The Intel vPro platform is a magnet for us. With PCs built on the Intel vPro platform, we can troubleshoot remotely, saving money.
We’re also able to scale up our capacity, reducing the number of field engineers. So we can have more help desk technicians.
You’re a big fan of Lenovo PCs. What’s the special appeal?
We’ve had a great experience with Lenovo hardware. And in the rare times we need customer support, we’ve had a good experience.
Ready to boost your remote manageability? Check out the Intel vPro platform.
CRN just unveiled its 2020 Women of the Channel Awards, and 2020 Power 100, which include a number of Intel’s own. These women are making big impact on the channel and playing an important role in technology.
To celebrate the incredible contribution of the women on this year’s list, we reached out to a few of the Intel winners to get their views on a range of topics. Here’s what they had to say, in their own words.
Q: What are STEM careers like? And how can we get more women interested in pursuing a technical career?
Tiffany Sargent, senior principal engineer, Intel:
Most STEM careers begin either as a result of formal education or through exposure to technology and/or personal interests. Technology is always changing. So it’s important that people entering this kind of a career are excited about being on a continuous and lifelong learning curve.
Learning is taking on a broader meaning than just technical skills. It’s now accomplished through personal exploration, mentorship, volunteerism, new jobs, or even stepping out of a daily routine and comfort zone to try something new. One thrives on constantly scanning the world around you and continually revamps how and where you spend your energy and focus.
Q: Where do you see women having the greatest influence in the channel and making the greatest impact?
Michelle Johnston Holthaus, executive vice president, chief sales officer, and general manager of sales, marketing and communications, Intel:
What I’ve noticed and admired is how much time women generously give, in mentoring, sharing best known methods and paying it forward.
Q: For young women considering a career in the channel, what would you describe as the top skills they need for success?
Kim Carlton, director of channel marketing and sales development, Intel:
Strong collaboration skills and the ability to build partnerships are critical to a career in the IT channel. I believe that creating win-win partnerships is something women do naturally. If women can draw on that strength throughout their careers, they can enjoy real success. In the IT channel, it takes many different companies and products to solve customer problems. Making those partnerships work takes creativity, flexibility and collaboration.
I would also encourage women who are considering the channel as a career to develop their technical skills. As we move into the data-centric era, capturing, understanding and using data will open opportunities for people interested in analytics — not to mention the opportunity this presents for the channel.
Q: What makes working in the channel such an exciting career path?
Michelle Johnston Holthaus:
Over the many years I’ve worked in the channel, I’m continuously inspired by how Intel’s partners transform their business models to drive new growth strategies. It’s a dynamic industry that thrives on innovation. As we enter new markets together, having diverse perspectives across organizations is critical for success.
One of the most exciting things about careers today, especially in STEM, is that we have the opportunity to continually refresh our skills at any stage of our career and to pivot directions, thus creating new possibilities for ourselves.
Many of the complex technology solutions and ecosystems require a team of collaborators with diverse skill sets. If we can figure out how to identify what we bring as our unique strength and have a personal career destination in mind, we can contribute in a meaningful way to a new wave of technical solutions based on our evolving skillsets. A pathway is wide open for any background to participate in a technology-related career.
Q: Business today is global. What would you say to women about a career with worldwide opportunities?
Stephanie Hallford, vice president & general manager of business client platforms, Intel:
I was born overseas and have seen the channel from many points of view. What I gained from my experience at Intel’s headquarters in California and Portland, Ore., as well as a 15-year career in Asia, has been incredible.
If you have an opportunity to work overseas, grab it. You can only learn when you push out of your comfort zone. You’ll experience cultures as they really are, and not shaped by your point of view. Everyone around you will also grow from the experience. We are a global community, and we need more global citizens.
Technology is changing very quickly and affecting our lives in new ways, but women are born multitaskers and can thrive in this setting. Women are quite comfortable with the speed, ambiguity, risk taking and integrated global nature of technology. There are a lot of examples where having women in leadership positions is advantageous because of these abilities and a natural capacity for problem-solving.
Q: How have women changed the way the technology industry handles sales?
Gina Merjanian, general manager, U.S. inside sales, Intel:
Women have changed the perception of what constitutes an effective salesperson. They tend to emphasize listening, relationship building, trust, collaboration and empathy. For effective selling, that’s a winning combination.
Women also bring a fresh perspective to IT sales with their unique point of view on different industries and approaches. Diversity is a very good thing for all businesses and industries. We’ve seen countless studies and research that proves the more the diversity, the better the innovation, and therefore the better the results.
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the IT channel?
Laura Barbaro, managing director, Americas IoT sales and marketing, Intel:
There is no doubt that COVID 19 has been a life-changer. It has changed the way we work, and it has changed the way our customers are working.
The need to accelerate digital transformation became critical for business survival. Many industries — including healthcare, smart infrastructure, digital surveillance, security, transportation, logistics and education — are experiencing business pain points that need solutions now. We need to be ‘collaboration leaders,’ listening to pain points and collaborating with the ecosystem/multiple vendors in ways we never have done before. By building customer trust during these difficult times, we will build a strong foundation for future business.
COVID-19 will forever change the way businesses operate. We are seeing a more rapid move towards automation and frictionless interactions. The era of digital transformation will be that much more accelerated as businesses lean in closer with technology leaders to help solve their problems and advance their businesses.
I talked earlier about the need for creativity to succeed in the IT channel. Creativity is essential to connect in the virtual world companies have started to embrace. We are going to have to get creative in terms of how we engage and build relationships with our partners, and how we connect with end-user customers in a virtual world.
On a more personal note, people working from home are finding life different. Making a ‘stronger you’ is more important than ever. You need to be able to create separation between work time and ‘you time.’ Hit pause and appreciate the little things. Get into an exercise routine. Practice healthier eating patterns. Call a friend. Enjoy nature. Be grateful for good health, and thankful to first responders. Inspiring others is contagious!
Congratulations to all the strong, inspiring women who are shaping the future of the Channel. #iamintel
It’s no surprise that John Gibson is a big fan of Intel vPro technology.
His San Diego-based IT support company, Just Right, deploys PCs based on Intel vPro tech for better functionality and lower service delivery costs. And the company’s improvements have been remarkable:
> A 95% reduction in the average time needed to resolve an OS problem, from 240 minutes to just 13.
> The total elimination of PC downtime, from an average of 45 minutes per PC to zero.
> A doubling of the number of PCs managed by one technician, from 40 up to 80.
Even better, Just Right has been able to use Intel vPro technology in conjunction with its existing management console software. That’s allowed the company, founded by Gibson in 1995, to continue offering its customers 24 x 7 support.
John Gibson, founder and CEO of Just Right
To learn more, we recently sat down with John Gibson for a discussion. Here are some selected highlights:
Why is remote access so important to Just Right?
Remote access is huge. In the past, we had cases where we had to go on-site because the computer wasn’t on. But now, the ability to remotely turn on a computer and access it with Intel Active Management Technology is huge for our productivity. It saves us time and money, because it’s going to be a lot quicker. It also helps with customer satisfaction, because they don’t have to turn the computer on.
Are there business benefits too?
Yes. Reducing on-site visits allows us to focus on other things. It expands the tech usage, saving us time and money. We’re counting on gaining more clients, even larger clients now. We’re expecting to double the number of endpoints we can manage and be able to hire another tech in the near future.
How are you getting customers to help you with remote management?
We always recommend PCs built on the Intel vPro platform. We always lead with it because we see it as a huge advantage, both for us and for the customer.
For example, we’ve got a prospective client who is due for a hardware refresh. We will definitely recommend the Intel vPro platform, because they will be replacing 50 to 60 computers. Even though there’s an upfront cost of upgrading to the Intel vPro platform, just the cost of electricity alone will be saved.
Are you partial to any PC brand?
We typically recommend Lenovo to our clients. The primary reason is that Lenovo seems to be more of a channel-friendly company. It feels like they’re looking out for us. They also provide more options for configuring computers.
Also, Lenovo edges everyone else out on innovation. Their laptop designs are the standard that everyone else follows.
Ready to improve your remote manageability? Check out the Intel vPro Navigator.