Intel wants the enterprise world to run on vPro, and to make that happen, the chipmaker has deployed a “small but mighty” team that is dedicated to helping partners uncover new opportunities and find new ways to monetize the hardware-based IT management platform.
The “small but mighty” descriptor is courtesy of Carla Rodriguez, a 14-year Intel veteran who leads the team as senior director of ecosystem enablement — a role she came into more than a year ago that is becoming critical to how vPro gets buy-in from a variety of partners, whether they’re independent software vendors, system integrators or managed services providers.
The increased focus on vPro, which is enabled at the silicon level through vPro processors, is especially important right as Intel’s rival, AMD, is starting to “aggressively” incentivize partners to use its own Ryzen Pro platform for commercial laptops.
“There‘s been reinvestment in this area,” Rodriguez said, “because we recognized over the years, even though vPro’s a 14-year-old franchise, that we need to lean in more, we need to understand how we help the channel sell and also how we help integrate some of our technologies — sometimes things require some coding, some tweaking — and we realized no one was there to play that part.”
This realization happened before the coronavirus pandemic happened and made vPro’s remote manageability and maintenance features more critical than ever since many large enterprises continue to have most of their employees work from home, creating new security and IT challenges.
“It forced us to really highlight the benefits that have always been in vPro,” Rodriguez said. “It just kind of brought them to the forefront because everybody‘s in this situation.”
The vPro ecosystem enablement team — which also includes Caitlin Anderson as head of commercial sales, Kate Porter as director of segmentation and scale and Pam Tenorio as director of marketing — is largely focused on three aspects of vPro enablement.
The first is technical enabling with partners, and a lot of current efforts are focused on getting partners set up with vPro’s Endpoint Management Assistant, which allows managed services providers and IT teams to manage fleets of vPro computers from the cloud, eliminating the need for on-premises servers.
“That‘s really unlocked a lot of capabilities for our partners in the channel,” Rodriguez said. “Some of that technical enabling can be fairly simple, and it’s a matter of light training from our end. Some of it is a lot more entailed and requires a lot more know how knowledge-share, engineer-to-engineer talking as well as potentially some coding and some workarounds, all of which my team can help with.”
Another area where the team helps with technical enablement is vPro’s Threat Detection Technology, which offloads some security workloads to the CPU’s integrated graphics, reducing the performance hit typically associated with running security software.
One important constituency for these enablement efforts are independent software vendors like Datto and Kaseya, which are building integrations with vPro and, in turn, giving their own customers better ways to take advantage of the Intel platform.
“They‘re able to become more competitive themselves by offering this, and then, in turn, the service providers that are utilizing these tools know that that integration is even smoother,” Rodriguez said, “That’s why my team has been great at tackling both sides of that equation, the ISV side of the equation as well as the service provider, system integrator.”
The second aspect of enablement is sales and marketing efforts with partners, including includes training, white papers and other ways to raise awareness of the vPro platform.
“We often work with our partners to do a white paper on it and proliferate that across the partner ecosystem so that others can learn,” Rodriguez said.
The third and final aspect that gets a lot of attention is partner success, which means ensuring that partners are maximizing the benefits of the vPro platform and, as a result, potentially creating new streams of revenue for partners.
Rodriguez said there are times when partners or customers don’t understand all the features in the vPro platform, which can lead some to develop capabilities in-house that would be made redundant by vPro, so her team’s goal is to stop partners and customers before they waste too many resources.
For example, Intel is working with a solution provider in Sweden on vPro deployments, and the solution provider had been developing their own solutions that closely mirrored capabilities that were already available to them, according to Rodriguez. That prompted her team to raise the issue with the solution provider, which enabled them to drop the project and allocate resources elsewhere.
“It was one of those [situations] where we all felt great. We all felt giddy. We‘re like, ‘oh my god. We’re truly allowing them to take advantage of these capabilities and re-purpose resources to something else that their business needs,’” Rodriguez said.
Another instance of how Intel is helping partners uncover new revenue streams through vPro is a new feature that is in testing called the battery life optimization tool.
“We have shared this battery life optimization tool with a handful of partners, such that they can turn around and hopefully implement, tweak to what they‘re trying to do — and potentially charge their customers to say, ‘I’m putting in this tool, which will act as a diagnostic and tell you what is dragging your system down or send that information back to the service provider,’” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said her team also helps partners test vPro and even goes as far as setting up pilots for them with end customers, which can help them identify the different ways they can monetize the platform or consider how vPro can lower the total cost of ownership for IT environments.