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Intel uncorks marketing syrup, pours over 16 cloud providers

First of many brandgasm 'waves' to come

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Cloud computing has wrecked the carefully tended brands of tech infrastructure providers by smothering their dodgy logos in layers and layers of opaque software, and Intel is not content to let all that expensive marketing go to waste.

Instead, the world's largest chip design company announced on Wednesday that it is slipping some marketing dosh to 17 cloud providers – including Amazon Web Services and Rackspace – to have them highlight the Intel chips running in their cloud.

The "Powered by Intel Cloud Technology" scheme loops in 16 new providers* with a cumulative cloud services revenue of $3bn between them to go along with previously-announced Amazon Web Services.

Though Intel is making a big deal of this, for perspective Amazon's predicted cloud revenue for 2013 was around $3.5bn, so the new providers don't amount to much relative to Bezos & Co.

By being part of the scheme the cloud companies can access "marketing opportunities with potential for joint funding," according to an Intel slide deck seen by The Register, and can piggyback on Intel's own marketing efforts.

Chipzilla isn't disclosing how much money it has set aside for this effort, but the company's director of cloud marketing Raejeanne Skillern tells us "it's a much smaller amount, really more of a supplement," compared to the multi-million Intel Inside campaign

The reason for the scheme is that Intel wants to push some of the more advanced capabilities of its advanced Xeon processors such as their AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions) chip instructions, and so on.

"We have talked to a bunch of users and service providers who believe the underlying hardware does matter," says Skillern.

Savvy developers can usually check the underlying hardware their instances if they're willing to poke around a bit – for example, by running cat /proc/cpuinfo in Linux.

But Intel thinks its worth branding these instances with a big badge. This brandgasm follows Intel's surprise announcement at the Intel Developer Forum in September last year that it had partnered with Amazon to clearly label where its Xeon chips powered Bezos & Co's cloudy instances.

For now, the providers feeding at Intel's small trough of marketing bucks do not include Google and Microsoft – two companies which buy far more infrastructure than anyone barring Amazon, and are the only ones to come close to Bezos & Co in terms of technical sophistication.

We asked Intel why it supposed some of the larger providers were not involved and Skillern said: "Sometimes it's because some players don't like to disclose information." She described this cohort of 16 providers as a first wave and said others would follow.

The entire marketing initiative is somewhat paradoxical, given that the main aim of cloud is to put various clever buffer layers between a developer and underlying hardware – but with the decline of the PC and Intel's negligible presence in smartphones it needs to brand something, and it might as well be "the cloud". ®

* Full list of providers: Expedient, Virtustream, UOL Host, Locaweb, KIO, Rackspace, Savvis, Cloudwatt, Canopy, Cloud4Com Online.net, OVH.com, NxtGen, Selectel, KT, and one other provider which did not want to be part of the Intel release due to some kind of marketing-driven internal initiative beyond our understanding. ®

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