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Intel vPro Promises VARs and MSPs Less Needy Desktops

Quoting eWeek Channel Insider

Intel aims to change the corporate desktop landscape with its vPro platform.

The business desktop chip platform, which incorporates Intel's recently introduced Core 2 Duo processor and a new supporting chip set that includes its Advanced Management Technology, will be unveiled on Sept. 7 and is expected to be used in PCs from some brand-name PC makers almost immediately, sources familiar with Intel's plans said.

Intel says vPro, made public for the first time in April, will bolster security for desktop PCs and make them easier to manage remotely, two things it says will aid VARs and corporate IT managers and ultimately help both parties save on PC management costs.

The platform's management features, many of which hinge on an updated version of Intel's Active Management Technology dubbed AMT 2.0, will produce the savings in part by applying automation or remote management to tasks that would normally require a deskside visit by IT staff, Intel said.

"We think it's time to reinvent the desktop," Paul Otellini, Intel's CEO, said during the April 24 vPro brand launch event in San Francisco. "We think it's time to reinvent those 85 million [desktops shipped per year] and help bring better manageability [and] better security into the business environment. It's all about driving costs down and driving productivity up for our employees."

Managed Services platform vendor, Level Platforms, of Ottawa, recently integrated into its managed services support for Intel vPro, which uses AMT, to identify, repair and protect computing assets.

In the managed services context Intel's technology, originally targeted at the enterprise, has the appeal of building a greater flexibility into the service provider's arrangement with the customer.

AMT makes it possible to remotely reboot computers and distribute software for maintenance and repair purposes even if the PC is powered down. If a user forgets to leave the computer on for scheduled maintenance overnight, the MSP (managed services provider) can still perform the work because of the remote rebooting capability.

PCs based on the platform can keep track of their own hardware and software, storing the information in nonvolatile memory. A PC that tracks the status of anti-virus applications, for example, can alert IT staff should its anti-virus software be turned off or removed. One additional feature, called Circuit Breaker, can remove a vPro PC from a computer network if a malware attack on it is detected, Intel has said.

HP and Lenovo are expected to be among the first out of the gate. HP has said it intends to host a Sept. 6 client computer event in New York, at which it's expected to detail several new business machines. Lenovo, for its part, has been working with Intel on virtualized applications for some time.

The arrival of vPro could be a boon for corporations, said Richard Shim, an analyst at IDC, in San Mateo, Calif. That is, he said, provided that they're willing to use the right tools with the platform.

"We've heard from corporate PC buyers that security and network manageability are high priorities. But, when it comes to purchasing decisions, those aren't at the top of the list," he said. "When the money is on the table—when they actually have to pay for these features—they're hesitant. But what vPro does is basically give [the buyers] what they want without them having to pay extra for it."

But while vPro offers a number of management and security features, most are designed to work with management software. That software must be able to interface with Intel's AMT, the hybrid hardware-software engine built into its Q965 chip set, in order to take advantage of vPro's features.

"You'll get some of the stuff you need with vPro, but if you really want a more complete solution, you're probably going to want something else," Shim said.

To that end, Intel has been working with a wide range of companies, including Altiris, BMC Software, CA (formerly Computer Associates) and LANDesk Software, to connect their management software to AMT. Of those companies, most are expected to deliver support for vPro and AMT 2.0 on or near the Sept. 7 release date.

Read the rest of the article, here.

 

Published Monday, September 04, 2006 6:25 PM by David Marshall
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