Intel Makes An Odd Move Into Software As A Service

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Intel is quietly making a move into software as a service — a move that has helped other hardware providers like HP and Dell counter the effects of falling consumer PC sales.Intel is a chip maker first and foremost, but it does venture into software as well — the AppUp store for netbook apps and tools to help developers take advantage of Intel multicore processors are two examples.

But the AppUp Small Business Service is Intel’s first move into managed services.

The services uses a “hybrid” cloud model. The idea that businesses might want the cost savings of cloud computing — where you only pay for the software you need as you need it — but aren’t yet comfortable trusting everything to a remote server.

Under the plan, a small business (under 100 people) leases an Intel-designed server from a managed service provider that caters to these businesses, like Data Doctors or FutureTech. The servers themselves will be built by partners like Lenovo, and will run business software like Microsoft’s Exchange (email) and SharePoint (collaboration) servers; Intuit (accounting software) and other providers are coming soon.

Intel takes care of the software licensing, and has technology for the service provider to manage the apps. The business pays by the user, and can get away with as little as “a few” dollars a month, depending on the software mix, according to PC Magazine.

The service is strictly for small businesses now, but a spokesperson didn’t rule out the possibility of rolling out similar services for larger companies.