Licensing issues delay vPro security

Windows CE licensing problems delay Symantec's Virtual Security Solution for Intel vPro as the security firm shifts towards open source

Symantec has delayed its virtualised security system for Intel's vPro platform because of licensing issues around the Windows CE platform, the company said on Tuesday.

The delay is the latest setback for vPro, a bundle of Intel technologies aimed at business users. Among vPro's capabilities are virtualisation — which is built into the Core chips used in vPro — and the ability for management tools to access features that are outside the control of the main operating system.

The vPro brand, along with the Viiv consumer platform, was part of Intel's attempt to recreate the success of the Centrino mobile wireless platform for laptops. In July Intel said it will begin de-emphasising vPro and Viiv from next year, in favour of the better-known Core brand.

Symantec's Virtual Security Solution (VSS) is designed to run on a virtual appliance outside the main OS, making it harder for users or attackers to get at.

The problem, Symantec said, is not the software itself, but the tangled licensing issues surrounding virtualisation.

"The first version of this product is actually ready to go. The code is written and we feel the product is in great shape," Gary Sabala, product manager for Virtual Security Solutions, told "However, while the product may be ready, we've discovered what other companies have also discovered when it comes to dealing with a virtual environment: that leveraging virtualisation makes licensing a bit more challenging."

He said the VSS would be released "as soon as possible", suggesting it could be available in mid-2008.

The licensing issues involved specifically relate to the Windows CE software, which currently provides the platform for all vPro virtual appliances. Other third-party licensing issues are also causing problems, Symantec said. The company is working to make the VSS run on open-source software as a way of getting around those licensing issues, Sabala said.

In May, Intel and Red Hat said they were developing a platform for vPro virtual appliances that is based on Linux and the Xen hypervisor, and would aim to have the technology ready by 2008. The move toward open source was the result of pressure by software vendors to move toward a "standards-based approach" for the vPro virtual appliances, Intel said at the time.

Besides Symantec, vendors such as PGP, StarCat, Altiris, Criston, LANDesk and Microsoft are working on management tools for vPro.