To remain competitive during these challenging times, tech providers need to enhance their skills. One way to do this is with training.
And one way to get trained is with the Competencies on Intel Partner University (IPU). Competencies are deeper training curriculums that can help you build expertise in a specific product, technology or business segment.
At least, that’s the theory. How about in practice?
To find out, we spoke recently with Jas Batra. He’s VP of New Technologies at MJP Technologies, an IT services provider in Ventura, Calif. Jas is a good person to ask; he recently completed over a half-dozen IPU Competencies. What follows is an edited version of our conversation.
Jas Batra, VP of new technologies, MJP Technologies
What’s been the main benefit you’ve received from training with IPU Competencies?
The Intel trainings are short and sweet. That’s great. They go directly to what we need. For each technology, there are a half-dozen or so training modules—it varies by competency—they cover everything you need to know. You do it, you learn it, you take the test, and you’re done.
The Competencies are highly focused, and they get straight to the nitty-gritty. They avoid the basic stuff we covered years ago and don’t need to hear again. I hate sitting through an all-day class when I need just one component that they’re not going to cover until the end of the day.
With so many people now working from home, how do IPU Competencies fit in?
That’s another great thing about the short modules. When do you have time? I’m working from home, I’ve got so many things going on, and I can’t sit for an hour straight. Especially with a kid in the house. Shorter modules make that so much more convenient. Yet you’re still getting all the information you need.
Do Competencies help you serve your customers? If so, how?
Absolutely. I’m going to easily turn around the technology into something we can sell to our customers. Our customers don’t speak technology. They speak ROI. They want to know, “What’s it going to do for my business?”
Also, because the modules are so short—some are just 10 minutes—the information is easy to retain. When you have a two-hour class, it can be hard to remember the first 30 minutes, especially if some parts aren’t relevant to your needs. But with these short and to-the-point modules, retaining the information is easy.
For example, I took the Gaming Systems Competency training and was pleased to see that a course addressed overclocking some of Intel’s high-end processors with details on how to get the best tuning, rather than by trial and error. That’s exactly what I need to know.
How detailed are the IPU Competency trainings?
In the technical competencies, they get quite detailed. For example, in the Intel Optane Technology Data Center Technical competency, they have you go through the command-line details. That’s to make sure you understand which commands you have to run, and what the command will do. These are the details we’ll need to actually implement.
Can you give an example of how information from an IPU Competency training helped you serve or influence a customer?
Sure. I completed the Intel Optane Technology Data Center Solution and Technology Competencies, and I earned the badges. Then I realized that with VMware vSAN—we do a lot of VMware-based solutions—one customer’s implementation would actually be much different when using Intel Optane technology.
Compared with a regular 3D NAND, this would give the customer higher IOPS [input-output operations/sec.] with fewer drives. Their cost would be about the same, maybe even a little less. But the main benefit would be the speed with which they could get the VMs fired up. So now that I understand Intel Optane technology, I can offer not only this customer a better solution, but other customers as well, both now and in the future.
That also helped with the customer’s VMware vSAN solution, which we’re basing on Intel Optane technology. There were a couple commands in the training that we were able to use with the customer, too. Given how quick the modules are, they cover a lot of detail, which was a pleasant surprise.
For this customer, what’s been the main benefit?
We actually did a proof-of-concept for them. It was completed a few weeks ago, and now we’re waiting for the customer’s approval. We’re going with Intel Optane DC SSDs, rather than with 3D NAND SSDs as we’d have done in the past.
This customer serves K-12 students, and they have a VMware environment. So we used the same exact hardware; all we did was swap out the drives. When they saw how much faster things would fire up and respond with Intel Optane DC SSDs, they realized this solution could deliver results in a lot less time.
Also, we’ve done the testing, and we’ve had some calls with our Intel sales rep and technology leads to validate the solution. We wouldn’t have done that without the Intel Optane DC Technology training.
How important to customers are the Competency badges?
With new customers, someone you’re presenting to for the first time, it’s important. New customers want to know your background, your competencies, your areas of experience. This is where the badges really make a difference.
Have other MJP employees taken the trainings?
Yes, a few others have. Within just minutes, they had ideas about something new we could offer our customers. It’s a good use of our time, as it produces a return that’s almost immediate.
Intel’s newest server family has a split personality. And that’s a good thing.
On the one hand, the new servers—called the Intel Server System M70KLP family—are designed to run mainstream workloads. On the other, unlike most mainstream devices, Intel’s newest servers also provide extremely high levels of compute and memory density.
The Intel Server System M70KLP family can do this, in part, because it’s the first line of servers to support the 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with up to 6 Ultra Path Interconnects (UPIs). It also offers the highest available memory capacity of any Intel server.
As a result, these new servers can handle compute- and memory-intensive workloads. That includes analytics, CRM, database, data mart/warehouse, ERP, OLTP, in-memory database and virtual-machine consolidation.
Yet these new servers can also reduce your customers’ total cost of ownership (TCO). They do this by consolidating workloads, in turn lowering costs for power, space, software licenses, networking components and management.
The Intel Server System M70KLP family offers a line of 4-socket servers, all in a 2U form factor. Four sockets provide some pretty impressive compute power. With each server able to take up to 4 CPUs, and each CPU offering up to 28 cores, that gives you a total maximum count of 112 cores per server.
And not just any CPU, but the 3rd gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors. They offer up to 40% higher performance than their predecessors.
That gives the Intel Server System M70KLP enough oomph for both enterprise private clouds and “next wave” cloud applications. Within the 3rd gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor line, the new servers can handle both the Platinum 83xx and Gold 63xx SKUs. Both are air-cooled.
Memory capacity for the new servers goes up to a max of 15TB per server. This enables larger datasets for in-memory databases. Some of this is achieved with support for the new Intel Optane 200 Series persistent memory (in App Direct mode), which has been optimized to work with the 3rd gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
Storage options are robust, too. The Intel Server System M70KLP supports both Intel Optane SSD and Intel 3D NAND SSD drives. In a single server, you can configure up to 24 drive bays.
The new servers are also certified to work with a wide range of third-party OSes and software. These include Windows Server, Oracle Linux, Ubuntu, VMware, SAP HANA (coming soon), SLES and RHEL.
AI, speed, I/O
This isn’t your father’s server. The new Intel servers boast some other, quite modern features.
That includes built-in AI acceleration. It comes from Intel Deep Learning Boost with VNNI, and the new BFloat16. Both can speed both AI training and inferencing on the server’s general-purpose CPUs.
Another modern feature on board is Intel Speed Select Technology. It lets users dial in Turbo Boost Tech frequencies, on CPU cores they select.
Yet another is an increase in Ultra Path Interconnects for I/O-intensive workloads. Each server can now have up to 6 UPIs, double the previous generation for greater inter-CPU bandwidth.
To keep the new Intel Server System M70KLP family safe and secure, Intel is also packing in hardware-enhanced security features. These help protect against malicious exploits and accelerate data encryption, yet also maintain workload integrity by reducing the server’s performance overhead.
Familiar look & feel
If you’ve already worked with other members of the Intel Server System portfolio, the new Intel Server System M70KLP servers should look and feel familiar. They use the same tools and utilities as the other family members, making your work easier and faster.
Enterprise-class server management tools are included, too. They’re designed to simplify deployment, monitoring, updating and debugging.
Do you have customers looking for servers that can handle just about anything today’s modern workloads can throw at them? Then tell them about the new Intel Server System M70KLP family.
“Together, moving the world forward” is the theme for this year’s Intel Partner Connect.
This partner event will be held virtually on April 22 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. PT / 11 a.m. to 4:30 pm ET. You're invited to attend.
Join this year’s Virtual Intel Partner Connect, and you’ll connect with the industry’s premier ecosystem to create innovative solutions, grow your business faster, and take advantage of new opportunities.
You’ll also learn about the latest tech trends, hear Intel’s product priorities, and discover how the new Intel Partner Alliance can help you grow your business.
The agenda for Intel Partner Connect 2021 features regional sessions, breakouts, and sponsor sessions. This year’s sponsors include Accenture, Dell, HP, Microsoft and VMware.
Technical sessions will cover Intel’s data center portfolio, cloud computing, memory tech, intelligent edge, SmartNICs, and Intel’s Optane PMem and Optane SSD solutions,
Several of these sessions will be hosted by Intel executives. They’ll include John Kalvin, Intel’s new GM of the global scale and partner organization; Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s new CEO; and Julie Malloy, Intel’s GM of global partner marketing.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger will be among the day's speakers
The day’s guest speaker will be Simon Sinek, a TED Talk celebrity and author of five books, including the bestseller, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Simon will be interviewed by Intel’s John Kalvin in a session entitled “Better Together.”
Mark your calendar for April 22. Register to attend. And connect, innovate and grow at Intel Partner Connect 2021.
The pandemic is transforming tech. Even after it ends, as many as 1 in 4 jobs could still be done remotely. Meanwhile, hardware sales are hot, hot, hot. That certainly includes gaming—just in time for the creation of a new PC category.
Sound intriguing? Then watch the latest video discussion between Ed Hannan, senior digital content manager at The Channel Co., and me, the editor of Tech Provider Zone.
In our latest “In the Zone” video, Ed and I discuss the changing face of tech work during the pandemic, why hardware is so hot, and the technology behind the ultraportable gaming PC.
Get in the groove with Tech Provider Zone. Watch our new video now:
Have you connected yet with the Intel Partner Alliance? It’s the new, streamlined platform designed to help you get the maximum benefit from Intel’s partner programs while also learning about the latest technologies.
The program gets explained in a new video featuring Jason Kimrey, Intel’s general manager of U.S. channel scale and partners. Jason works with solution providers, distributors, systems integrators and software partners, helping them harness value from today’s new and disruptive technologies.
In a new “Pardon the Integration” video, Jason speaks with Ed Hannan, senior digital content manager at The Channel Co.
Jason and Ed discuss the Intel Partner Alliance’s roles and benefits, personalization features and partner portal, new capabilities for partner training and marketing, and more.
Get to know the new Intel Partner Alliance program. Watch the “Pardon the Integration” video now:
You already know that COVID-19 has many people working from home. But what else has changed?
To find out, Robert Half Technology, a job-placement firm for IT professionals, recently surveyed more than 2,400 senior managers in the U.S. The survey results have been published in the company’s 2021 Technology Salary Guide.
Here are some of the top findings:
> Top changes of working during a pandemic: More frequent communication from leadership (cited by 38% of respondents); improved collaboration (37%); more innovation (32%); greater transparency into business priorities (31%); and more efficient processes (30%).
> Top hiring industries: Healthcare, technology, financial services, and government.
> Top management concern: Retaining valued employees (cited by over 80%).
> Top work challenges related to the pandemic: Employee morale (cited by 47%); heavy workloads and burnout (47%); lowered salaries (39%); staff dissatisfied with management (29%); and employees losing interest in working for the organization (26%).
> Top IT certifications in demand: AWS certified solutions architect; certified cloud security professional; Microsoft certified Azure solutions architect; Salesforce certified development lifecycle and deployment designer; and others.
> Top IT salaries by title: Chief information officer ($175K - $300K); chief technology officer ($153K - $267K); chief security officer ($156K - $281K); VP of IT ($146K - $239K); big data engineer ($133K - $227K); IT security manager ($124K - $213K).
> Top hiring changes as a result of the pandemic: Conducting remote interviews and onboarding (cited by 54%); shortened hiring processes (42%); and hiring for fully remote jobs (42%).
> Top reasons why organizations use interim professionals: To scale the team (cited by 40%); evaluating a person for a full-time job (39%); gaining access to specialized skills (37%); adding flexibility (34%); gaining support for special projects (34%); and alleviating the burden on full-timers (32%).
> Top IT skills in demand: Agile, cloud, Java, Linux, Python, virtualization, and others.
> Top job perks: Flexible work schedules (now offered by 46% of organizations); remote-work options (44%); paid parental leave (33%); and employee discounts (26%).
Learn more: Download the Robert Half Salary Guide 2021 (registration required)
Now is a good time to be in hardware.
People who have held onto their jobs during the pandemic are also holding onto a lot of cash. After all, they’re not buying airplane tickets, not booking hotel rooms, not buying theater or concert tickets, not buying work clothes.
But they are buying PCs, smartphones and smart-home devices.
Plenty of PCs
PC shipments worldwide will grow 8% this year, predicts market watcher Canalys. That will mean total ships of nearly 487 million units. This rising tide will lift all PC categories: desktops, notebooks and tablets.
Notebook PCs will be the fastest-growing sector, with unit shipments rising 9.4% this year, for a total of 258.2 million units worldwide, Canalys says. Tablet shipments will rise 8.3%, the market watcher predicts, for a full-year total of 174.2 million units. And desktops shipments are forecast to rise 4.4% this year, for a global total of 64.4 million units.
Growth would be even higher if the industry wasn’t facing supply issues, Canalys adds. Some items remain on backlog, especially PCs for students and workers affected by pandemic restrictions.
“The PC industry is set to grow for years to come,” says Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi.
EMEA PCs hit new high
Looking just at PCs in the EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa) region, market watcher IDC believes shipments this year will be the highest ever recorded: 96.4 million units, representing a year-on-year increase of 16%.
“Lockdown durations continue beyond the expectations of many,” says IDC researcher Simon Thomas. “The unprecedented demand for personal computing devices continues in parallel.”
Graphical processing units are a leading indicator for the PC market, since nearly every system gets a GPU before it ships. And sales of these components are soaring.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, GPU shipments worldwide rose 12.4%, compared with the year-earlier quarter, finds Jon Peddie Research.
Looking ahead, JPR predicts that global GPU shipments will grow from 2020 to 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7%. That would mean a total of 419 million units by 2025.
Smartphones dial up
Who needs a new phone? Quite a few people. Worldwide shipments of smartphones will rise by over 11% this year, for a total of 1.5 billion units, predicts research firm Gartner.
Gartner believes 2 factors will drive the growth. One, the availability of new phones, spurring people to replace their older phones. And two, the availability of lower-end 5G phones, some retailing for as little as $200.
Last year, smartphone shipments worldwide fell by 10.5% as consumers held onto their wallets. So if the Gartner forecast holds true, that should be good news for phone companies and telco operators alike.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite: a mid-priced 5G phone
How quickly 5G catches is something of an open question. But Gartner believes this could be the year, especially in China. That's where the firm predicts 5G phones will represent nearly 6 in every 10 new phones sold this year.
Smart home: looking smart
Smart-home devices have become really popular. Fully 50% of U.S. consumers now own at least one. That's according to NPD. Just a year earlier, the figure was only 35%, so that's a big leap.
What are the most commonly owned smart-home devices? They would be security cameras, security systems, garage-door openers, and smart lighting.
To get these figures, NPD recently polled more than 5,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and older.
Looking ahead to the rest of this years, NPD predicts that smart-home shipments will rise by 9% over last year. The firm also expects some segments—including smart locks, smart entry and smart lighting—to grow at least twice that rate. Pretty smart.
How is the pandemic affecting the world of tech? Well, as many as 1 in 4 jobs could continue to be done remotely. Cybersecurity spending is up. And brands are spending big bucks on Amazon.
That’s the latest from top researchers, survey firms and market watchers. Here’s your tech provider’s roundup.
The future of work after the pandemic
With millions of people now getting vaccinated, this could be the beginning of the pandemic’s end. That makes now a good time to ask: Will the workplace changes of the last year persist? Or will we go back to “normal”?
The smart consultants at McKinsey & Co. believe they know. They just published a report on the future of work, based on 800 occupations grouped into 10 “work arenas.”
One thing McKinsey has realized: The need for physical proximity varies by occupation. Medical care, for example, almost always requires physical proximity between a healthcare provider and a patient. Same for barber shops and nail salons. But computer-based office work? Not so much.
Here are some of McKinsey’s predictions and insights:
> Roughly 20% to 25% of the workforce in advanced economies could do their work from home from 3 to 5 days a week. This represents 4 to 5 times more remote work than we saw before the pandemic.
> Some companies already plan to shift to more flexible workspaces after the pandemic. On average, companies say they’ll reduce office space by 30%.
> Business travel will rebound, but not fully. McKinsey believes that up to 20% of business travel may not return.
> Shopping online is here to stay. Roughly three-quarters of people who used digital channels for the first time during the pandemic say they’ll continue using them after the pandemic.
> AI is looking better. Two-thirds of executives said they’re stepping up their investments in automation and AI, either somewhat or significantly. What’s more, these investments correlate with physical proximity. That is, the more a job involves close human interaction, the more likely it is to be targeted for automation and AI.
> Due to shifts in the workforce, as many as 1 in 4 people may need to find a new occupation by 2030.
Cybersec and the pandemic
A lot has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes cybersecurity.
Nearly three-quarters of IT decision-makers say they face new security challenges with increased complexity. These challenges include protecting users now working from home, keeping applications updated, and implementing Zero Trust approaches.
That’s according to a new survey report issued from Tanium, a provider of endpoint solutions. Tanium commissioned PSB Insights to conduct an online survey of 500 IT decision-makers, both in the United States and the UK, who work in a wide range of industries.
Here’s some of what Tanium and PSB found:
> Nearly 9 in 10 respondents say that before the pandemic, they had felt confident in their ability to secure remote workers. Yet now, only about 4 in 10 say they found it easy to actually shift employees.
> Nearly a third (30%) of respondents say they’ve observed end users failing to keep their software updated.
> IT groups are shifting their spending priorities toward cybersec. The areas most commonly cited for new investment are data security (cited by 63%); threat detection (60%); security/compliance software and services (59%); and device management (50%). In addition, nearly 4 in 10 respondents say they’ve accelerated their investments in tech that supports a Zero Trust architecture.
> Risky behavior is on the upswing. As the chart below (courtesy of Tanium) shows, the most commonly observed risks are storing sensitive data (cited by 41% of respondents); clicking on malicious emails (38%); and inappropriate admin access (37%).
Brands ♥ Amazon
That smile in the Amazon logo just got a little wider. With so many of us are cooped up at home during the pandemic lockdown, we’re shopping online — a lot.
Brands have taken notice. Today, nearly 8 in 10 brands are selling on Amazon, up from about half (55%) a year ago, according to a new survey report from Feedvisor.
Other findings from its survey include:
> Nearly 9 in 10 brands now use Amazon’s advertising platform. That’s 21% more than did so a year ago.
> Half of all brands say they experience a return of 7x or more when using Amazon advertising. Another 40% or so say their return is in the range of 4x to 6x.
> Brands are increasing their ad spending on Amazon, too. Nearly 6 in 10 spend over $60K a month on Amazon advertising. A year ago, only about 4 in 10 spent that much.
For Intel’s new chief executive officer, Pat Gelsinger, heading up the company is a bit like coming back home.
Gelsinger first joined Intel in 1979 for what was his first real job. He was just 18. Gelsinger moved to Silicon Valley and was hired by Intel as a quality-control technician.
He stayed at Intel for the next 30 years. During that time, Gelsinger earned degrees from Santa Clara and Stanford Universities, joined the Intel engineering teams that introduced the 386 and 486 processors, earned himself no fewer than 8 patents, and was promoted to senior VP.
In 2009 Gelsinger left Intel to join EMC, where he eventually became CEO of VMware. Late last year, Intel announced that Gelsinger would be returning, this time as Intel’s CEO.
Check out Pat Gelsinger’s round trip from Intel and back. Download the “Pat Gelsinger: A journey back home” infographic PDF below.
If you’re a managed services provider that includes in your offerings the Intel NUC Mini PC, Intel has 5 new sales resources for you.
As you probably know, the Intel NUC Mini PCs offer high-level performance in a compact form factor. That includes the latest CPUs, security features and remote management.
The new sales resources for MSPs are available now on the Intel NUC Navigator site. This site provides resources to help MSPs like you sell and deploy a range of Intel NUC business devices for a wide range applications. Those can include digital signage, content rendering, and IoT edge analytics.
The Intel NUC Navigator site now features four Intel NUC devices for business: Intel NUC 11 Pro, Intel NUC 9 Pro, Intel NUC Pro Chassis Element, and Intel NUC Rugged Chassis Element. All four are built on the Intel vPro platform, which offers features for hardware-based security and remote management.
The new Intel NUC sales resources come on top of a slew of NUC sales resources Intel added last year. Here’s what’s on tap now:
> Top 5 Reasons to Choose Intel NUC: Why your customers should equip their workforce with versatile and reliable Intel NUC business solutions. They’ll make you rethink the “power of small.”
> Top 6 Questions About Intel NUC: Learn how these Mini PCs can benefit your customers, protect their security, and more.
> Four Ways to Grow Your Business with Intel NUC: Check out creative new ways to solidify your existing customer relationships — and add new ones, too.
> Intel NUC Objection Guide: Check out these 4 common customer concerns, and how you can respond to them by informing and engaging your customers.
> Infographic: More business device choices than ever before: Compare and contrast the four Intel NUC devices designed for business: the Intel NUC 11 Pro, Intel NUC 9 Pro, Intel NUC Pro Chassis Element, and Intel NUC Rugged Chassis Element.
To get these new MSP sales resources, visit the Intel NUC Navigator site today.
New to NUC? Check out the Intel NUC Mini PCs for business.