Intel has announced the next generation of vPro, its business client platform, with, according to the company, a greater emphasis on manageability and flexibility.
Intel's vPro technology is designed to help IT staff manage desktops and notebooks remotely — both within and outside the company firewall — that are in a variety of states, from fully operational to powered down with an unresponsive operating system (OS) and even failed hardware. The key enabling component is an OS-independent 'out-of-band' network connection, run by an embedded processor with independent access to the computer's network hardware.
According to Boyd Davis, Intel general manager for server product group marketing, at a recent briefing in Prague, 90 percent of remote-management problems can be fixed with today's tools, but the remaining 10 percent that currently require a site visit generate half of the total cost of managing desktop and notebook clients. The third generation of vPro, launched on Monday, along with the desktop Q45 Express Chipset (code-named 'McCreary'), is targeted at reducing site visits.
There is new vPro functionality in security and manageability, energy efficiency and 'virtual IT' services for small businesses.
Security enhancements include the ability for IT departments to access systems outside the corporate firewall as easily as they can those within the company LAN. With Remote Alerts, PCs can automatically connect to base when security issues arise, so they can be quarantined and repaired.
Intel has also added secure access in Microsoft NAP (Network Access Protection) environments, even if the PC is off or the OS unresponsive, keeping the PC off the company network if can't authenticate itself or report its configuration.
Access Monitor keeps an audit trail of vPro-related security activities, such as unauthorised access attempts or malicious activity by a legitimate user.
Elsewhere, CPU support for Intel VT (Virtualization Technology) and Intel TXT (Trusted Execution Technology) allows a secure container — called a 'Dynamic Virtual Client' (DVC) — to be created, into which applications and OS images can be streamed.
Further down the line, Intel said it will add optional Anti-Theft Technology (Intel AT) for notebooks. If the laptop is stolen, Intel AT will automatically prevent unauthorised access to encrypted data or disable the system via programmable triggers, in a restorable fashion.
The new Fast Call for Help feature is designed for use in a crisis, such as a rapidly approaching deadline: make a single keystroke on your PC, and your IT helpdesk is instantly alerted. Another new feature, Remote Scheduled Maintenance, makes it easier for outside-firewall systems to receive new virus definitions and OS updates.
Intel intends these features and others to make vPro more applicable to small businesses than before. The company has also set up a website, Intel vPro Expert Center, where the vPro community can share expertise and gather wish-list data for future versions.