Intel Corp. identified servers as the single most lucrative opportunity for the channel in developing new solutions and generating revenue dollars.

“”The Internet continues to be the motor that drives our industry,”” said David Allen, director of distribution sales for North America at Intel.

“”Servers used to be a pedestal sitting there on the side of the office. We’ve seen a segmentation in servers in the last three or four years. There’s huge growth in rack optimized servers out there. Blade (servers) are the fastest growing right now.””

Allen made the comments to a room full of solution providers attending this year’s CompTIA Solution Provider Breakaway conference here, which attracted 140 attendees.

Intel is forecasting 15 per cent growth in servers, with blade servers followed by rack mountable servers representing the bulk of growth. By contrast the company sees sales of pedestal servers flattening.

“”We can see pretty steady double digit increases for the next decade,”” said Allen.

Allen also gave solution providers an update on where Intel is with its next generation Itanium chip, codenamed Montecito, which will contain 1.7 billion transistors. Other features include dual cores, multithread processing and a tripling in performance bandwidth.

On the software side, Intel is working with vendors such as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to help resellers provide more complete solutions.

Gary Sohal, president of Hamilton, Ont.-based Audcomp Computer Systems, said Intel has formalized its vision of where technology is heading. “”It’s reassuring to us as VARs that we’re heading in the right direction.””

Stephen Tucker, chief executive officer of 407 Info Management, a division of Burlington, Ont.-based MDM Systems Consulting Inc., agreed.

“”Intel talked about its strategy and how to deal with the future,”” said Tucker. He added Intel gave him more direction in this sense than AMD, which kicked off the conference with a keynote session on Monday.

“”Intel gave me a better idea about how I should build my strategy for the next 10 years,”” he said, adding that while his customers still want Intel, AMD might have a future in his business, “”if (AMD) can get their story out.””

Allen also talked about how Intel is meeting increased demand for mobile products. These include seamless wireless connectivity, battery life, new form factors such as PDAs and Tablet PCs and high performance to handle applications. Intel has invested millions of dollars to power a laptop from “”sunrise to sunset”” said Allen.

Allen said there are still opportunities in the desktop refresh market. “”The desktop has been the bread and butter of computer industry for last 25 years,”” he said. “”(Customers) are looking for that refresh. The job of the solution provider is to take integration to them and make a compelling sale and replace the computers they bought in 1999 for Y2K.””

Main reasons resellers can use to convince customers to refresh desktops include lowering security risks, major operating system updates, more productive employees in terms of response time and improving IT efficiency, he said.

Sohal said desktop refresh is a good business for Audcomp. “”We tend to get a lot of refresh because of the age of the hardware and not because customers want new software – at least not yet.””

Allen also told solution providers how the consumer-oriented digital home can lead to potential solution opportunities in the digital office in the future. Allen said the consumer electronics industry in North America is valued at US $100 billion a year.

“”We in the computer channel aren’t really touching that at all,”” he said. “”Our vision is to enable consumers to enjoy multimedia content anywhere, anytime on any device.””

This is something Sohal can see as a potential solution for his customers. “”It becomes information at your fingertips 24/7 whether you’re at home or at the office,”” he said.

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