It’s almost trite to say that technology is about innovation but, alas, that’s a generally valid statement. One place that statement is completely valid is in the Intel Builders programs. These programs aren’t just about Intel’s innovations though; they’re collaborative programs that bring together multiple companies and technologies, including Intel’s technologies, to find innovative solutions to address real-world data-center needs. Sometimes that innovation spans the entire data center, and sometimes it involves specific aspects of it, as evidenced in the individual programs for:

When Vendors Work Together

For a decade or more, there’s been a rise in alliances and collaborative partnerships between tech vendors. Alliances became popular as companies realized that the growth of technology was outpacing any one company’s ability to provide all the pieces customers need. Some alliances bring together hardware and software vendors, some are between different hardware vendors, others involve professional services.

In the case of the Intel Builders programs, the alliances include Intel and other companies—sometimes one, sometimes several—and those companies’ customers. The variability in customer needs and participating companies makes the Intel Builders programs fluid, adaptable, and applicable in a way that fosters innovation at a rapid pace.

Moving Innovation Forward by Helping Fund It

As part of the Intel Builders programs, Intel runs the Intel Builders Innovation Fund. The fund offers to reimburse participants up to 75 percent of the cost of an innovative software-defined infrastructure (SDI) project. Funded projects are selected from application submissions. Projects must meet criteria established for the program. One requirement is that a customer has to be onboard—in other words, there must be an actual need for a real-world implementation.

Watching Innovation Become a Reality

Prowess Consulting was commissioned by Intel to help track the 2016 Intel Builders Innovation Fund project and to create high-level internal Intel reports on the proofs of concept that the project’s participants have delivered.

Working with the project and the participants has provided an interesting look at a variety of data-center needs. Some of the funded projects are huge carrier implementations, others are smaller but every bit as innovative. And the funded projects span the globe—from China to Australia to the U.S. and back again. Each one we’ve looked at, following the Innovation Fund’s criteria, has used SDI or network functions virtualization (NFV).

Many of the projects used open-source technologies and participant software and/or hardware in combination with Intel hardware and embedded software technologies. One of the projects ran Red Hat Open vSwitch (OVS) 2.5 in a multiprocessor NFV environment that used a non-uniform memory access (NUMA) architecture. OVS is an open-source implementation of a distributed, virtual, multilayer switch. The project demonstrated that OVS 2.5 takes a performance hit when network traffic crosses the Intel QuickPath Interconnect (Intel QPI) link in these environments.  The conclusion: when Red Hat OVS 2.5 is used in such an environment, it’s best not to let traffic cross the Intel QPI link. Additionally, future versions of Red Hat OVS might be architected to compensate for the performance hit.

Another project showed how using centralized Intel SSD DC D3700 Series SSDs that use non-volatile memory express (NVMe) in a flash-storage appliance can deliver the same performance with greater availability, at a lower cost, and with more scalability than when using localized SSDs.

One of the projects created a plugin that runs an algorithm to help an enterprise running OpenStack to automate the selection of the best available server for a new virtual-machine instance. The plugin helps ensure the use of the server that can best meet service-level agreements (SLAs).

In the coming months, you’ll start to see these projects show up in the Intel Builders solution library, along with many other solutions that are already in the library. Take a look, and check back here any time to read more about the work Prowess is doing.

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