Intel Arms Partners With Rich Network Insight By Turning PCs Into Sensors

The real-time insight generated by Intel Connectivity Analytics from driver-level telemetry data can help partners deliver solutions around network performance optimization and dynamic bandwidth adjustment for critical usages, among other use cases. ‘What this analytics capability is supposed to do is help IT managers and service providers understand what’s really happening from the client level all the way to the cloud,’ Intel executive Eric McLaughlin tells CRN.


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Intel wants to equip IT vendors and solution providers with advanced capabilities to fix network issues by giving them real-time access to connectivity data from PCs. 

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant this week opened a new program to give partners access to Intel Connectivity Analytics, a commercial software service that creates “unique networking and system insights” using driver-level telemetry data captured from Intel Wi-Fi 6 chipsets in laptops and desktops.

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Eric McLaughlin, general manager of Intel’s Wireless Solutions Group, told CRN that Intel Connectivity Analytics is meant to help partners develop advanced solutions for fixing network issues and improving the end-user experience for PCs in offices, homes and other environments.

“What this analytics capability is supposed to do is help IT managers and service providers understand what’s really happening from the client level all the way to the cloud,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT

The real-time insight generated by Intel Connectivity Analytics can help partners deliver solutions around network performance optimization, dynamic bandwidth adjustment for critical usages, performance monitoring and technical support for client networking, security threat detection and issue resolution as well as asset tracking and facility resource management. 

“Imagine having data that tells you what apps are running, how frequently they’re running, how are the laptops performing or the desktops performing in every segment of the enterprise, in this area, on this [access point], at this time of day, running this set of apps,” said McLaughlin. “And if you see a set of failures, for example, that are a fairly consistent set of failures, why are those failures happening? What was happening at that given time? How can we troubleshoot that in a much more cohesive way?” 

How Partners Can Use Intel Connectivity Analytics

Intel is making Intel Connectivity Analytics available as a software development kit that allows partners to integrate the service’s network insight into their own services and applications. 

For partners to turn on the firehose of telemetry data, they will need to load a customer’s fleet of PCs with an Intel Connectivity Analytics application that will require the consent of each user. Any personal information is parsed out from the telemetry data, according to McLaughlin.

The ability to turn PCs into sensors to analyze network data means that partners no longer have to rely on stand-alone sensors to capture data throughout a network, McLaughlin said. 

“What happens with this is every PC in the environment that has the application installed becomes a sensor. And so from a business model perspective, they have two benefits: They don’t have to put the hardware sensors in, and they have five [times] the sensors that they probably had before, and the data set is way more rich,” he said. 

With Intel Connectivity Analytics open to both vendors and solution providers, MSPs and other kinds of channel partners can benefit from Intel Connectivity Analytics by selling a vendor’s offering that relies on the service or baking the service into their own offerings. 

The first two vendors to use Intel Connectivity Analytics through the new program are wireless network optimization providers Wyebot and Ambeent, which both work with MSPs. 

In a roundtable discussion, Wyebot CEO Roger Sands said Intel Connectivity Analytics will allow his Marlborough, Mass.-based company to use PCs as “micro sensors” that complement its own sensors and feed telemetry data from those computers into Wyebot’s AI engine, which identifies and solves issues within Wi-Fi networks. 

“It’s like having micro sensors everywhere to use around the world. You could be traveling to a conference in Asia. [You] could be staying at a hotel on vacation but you have a business-critical call,” he said. “All those analytics and information, the telemetry data coming right out of the Intel drivers and chipsets [are] feeding our AI engine [for] IT organizations around the world so they can understand and optimize the end-user experience.”

Mustafa Ergen, CEO of San Francisco-based Ambeent, said by getting access to information from a PC’s physical layer, MAC layer and network layer with Intel Connectivity Analytics, his company will be able to improve the way it troubleshoots network issues and optimizes the radio spectrum for Wi-Fi connections.

“Before, in the application layer, we were poking it with our eyes closed. Now our eyes will be opened with Intel [Connectivity Analytics],” he said.

New Program Part Of Intel’s Broader Paid Software Push

Intel plans to make money from Intel Connectivity Analytics through a revenue-share business model with program participants, according to McLaughlin. The semiconductor giant’s cut of revenue through partners will be a percentage of every user or seat a customer pays for in a monthly or quarterly Software-as-a-Service agreement with the partner.

“It’s structured in such a way that we only get paid as they build out their customer base,” he said. 

Intel Connectivity Analytics is part of a growing portfolio of commercial software services offered by Intel. But while Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said that he wants to significantly grow the chipmaker’s software revenue, the development of the service started before he became CEO in 2021. 

McLaughlin said the technological underpinnings of Intel Connectivity Analytics came from the company’s 2020 acquisition of Rivet Networks, a provider of Wi-Fi products and networking software that optimizes network performance for gaming. One motivation behind the acquisition was Rivet’s ability to capture and analyze telemetry data from its Wi-Fi products. 

“[Rivet] had recognized this data capability that they have. There’s so much data flowing over the [Wi-Fi] card, and they had packaged it up and they had one customer that they were selling this data capability to, but it was really nascent, and it was a very small company,” he said.

Intel initially launched Intel Connectivity Analytics in 2021 as part of a collaboration with Cisco Systems, which uses the service to generate wireless client insight from its wireless controllers and access points.

“Once we get some capabilities beyond what we’re doing today with them, we’re talking about unique business models we can have going forward,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said Intel’s Wireless Solutions Group, which is part of the chipmaker’s Client Computing Group, is “profitably selling software” now, but the division has larger ambitions in the area. 

“We have a long-term plan to build a software services business, and we have a really good start on that. So this is like phase two of a [five-phase] plan,” he said.

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