Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) continues to invest in the Intel Hybrid Cloud strategy, which allows MSPs to promote server software and services on a pay-as-you-go basis to customers. But the really interesting part of the Intel Hybrid Cloud effort involves Intel AppUp -- a small business service catalog that includes a growing portfolio of applications that MSPs can offer to their end-customers.

So far, Intel AppUp features the following options:
  • Business applications and business solutions: ClearCenter ClearOS, Intuit, Tally
  • Healthcare applications: gloStream
  • Server O/S: Microsoft, Pragma Systems, SUSE
  • Email, collaboration and instant messaging
  • Databases: Microsoft
  • Security, firewall and unified threat management solutions: Astaro, GFI Software, Sios
  • Backup, storage and disaster recovery: Asigra, Kinetic RoboBak, StorageCraft, Vembu
  • Management and monitoring software: GFI Software, Level Platforms, Lumension
  • VoIP and PBX services: Fonality, WorkSpace
In some ways, the Intel AppUp service is similar to a cloud aggregator service, allowing VARs and MSPs to select software from an online marketplace, and then permitting a pay-as-you-go subscription model to end users.

But so far, it looks like the bulk of the AppUp service offerings involve on-premises software deployed on Intel Hybrid Cloud Servers from such companies as Lenovo, Brite and Equus.

Two-year Reality Check

Has Intel Hybrid Cloud caught on? I'm not sure. Intel first announced the Intel Hybrid Cloud effort and its initial technology partners back in July 2010 or so. Nearly two years later, I do hear good things about Intel Hybrid Cloud but I don't hear from too many MSPs that are using the AppUp service.

Plus, I continue to hear from small VARs and MSPs that are selling fewer on-premises servers. Instead, those channel partners are shifting customers' basic applications (particularly email and database services) into the cloud.

Back in March 2012, Peter Han, GM of Microsoft's U.S. OEM Group, told me that Microsoft's small business server organization was out-performing rivals and taking market share away from alternative small business platforms. But when I asked Han if Microsoft Small Business Server software sales were rising dramatically, holding steady or declining I really didn't get a clear, concise answer.

And therein resides the challenge for Intel Hybrid Cloud and the broader small business server market. A hybrid approach certainly makes sense. Customers will always want end-points and some data on-premises. I'm just not sure how many on-premises servers that approach will require...

We'll likely get our answer from the Intel AppUp Service. If more and more ISVs join that effort, it would represent a clear sign that Intel Hybrid Cloud demand -- and small business server demand -- is growing and thriving.