SAN DIEGO – A year ago, Intel partners were feeling the heat from a combination increasing demand for AMD-powered servers and a shortage of Intel chipsets and motherboards, which lead to sizable layoffs last fall.

The atmosphere as several hundred Intel premier system builders met here Monday for their annual Solutions Summit was much more upbeat, with Intel having a lead over AMD in quad core CPUs for several more months, and it will likely be better with an upcoming overhaul of its Intel Inside partner marketing program.

At the end of next month Intel will allow partners greater discretion in using funds they’ve built up in their MDF accounts for print advertising and other collateral, and, through a partnership with Google, give system builders the ability to place online advertising.

Intel also announced a partnership with Linux operating system distributor Red Hat where systems assembled from an Intel parts list will be automatically certified to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which will get around lengthy delays in getting the OS certified to run on channel-built platforms.

Steve Dallman, general manager of Intel’s worldwide reseller organization, called the change in the Intel Inside program an “exciting” development that will help partners broaden their marketing efforts.

Until now, the company has been restrictive in the way marketing funds can be rebated for partner expenses. One Ontario VAR, for example, recalled in an interview here that the company refusing to help pay for an ad because the Intel logo was placed in the wrong part of the page.

At a session with reporters, Dallman acknowledged that channel partners have been asking for less restrictive rules for some time.

That will change with the creation of online marketing stores, where channel partners can chose from a number of templates for building ads which not only have approved Intel logos but will also allow partners more freedom in the placement of their messages.

There will be up to 100 reimbursement for their expenses coming out of their Intel Inside accounts (credit that is built up through the purchase of Intel products), so the partner does not have to put out cash up front. 

It will also cover spending on marketing events channel partners host, up to 50 per cent of direct mail campaigns and spending on some marketing research.

Dallman had few details about the arrangement with Google, which will be announced by that company April 29, but it will apparently involve an online store where system builders can place ads for desktops, notebooks and servers built with Intel components.

The Red Hat deal is open only to Intel Premier and Associate partners.

“If they order from a menu of options from server configurations that are both standard and solutions-processed components, they’ll be pre-certified to run RHEL,” said Edward Boyajian, Red Hat’s North American vice-president and general manager. “That means that all of the ISV certifications that we would have normal support for they could take to their customers” and show support for that configuration.

“Normally what we would do for any hardware vendor is charge a fee to certify that platform so we can ensure we support it.

“I think it’s going to fundamentally change the channel’s ability to serve customer demand. There’s still a large per centage of servers that ship as white boxes. Those have typically not been the focus of our core RHEL certification. This allows us to reach more customers through Intel partners and their relationships.”


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