vPro remote management coming to Intel laptops

When Intel Corp. rolls out its Centrino Pro laptop processor technology next month, the addition of Core 2 Duo processors and extended wireless range will only be part of the selling points for resellers and system builders.

The new technology will also include Intel’s vPro remote management capabilities, which let administrators diagnose and patch PCs with a special chipset, even if their power is off.

Until now vPro (also called Intel Active Management Technology, or AMT) has only been available on select desktop motherboards from Intel and its partners.

But as a result of the technology being extended to laptops, Intel VARs and system builders will be able to offer managed services covering a wider range of an organization’s PCs – or at least those that have vPro machines.

Not only will managers be able to oversee vPro laptops on LANs, they will also have wireless control over them if they have the right software from companies such as LANDesk, CA, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems.

Security is said to be assured through the use of the 802.11i protocol.

“We do some managed services now, so the addition of notebooks will be good,” said

Steve Musgrove of SGM System Source, who builds systems resold by VARs, based in Richmond, B.C. He estimates one-third of them are vPro-enabled.

His company, which does $2 million in annual sales, has been offering PC managed services to resellers for the past six months.

“Being able to extend the offering (to laptops) finishes off the product line,” he said.

Centrino Pro capabilities will be offered by a yet unnamed number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), some of whom, like Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard.

It will also be available on select motherboards covered by the Verified By Intel program for system builders making laptops.

Intel is pushing vPro as one of the technologies that differentiates itself from AMD, which doesn’t have an equivalent offering, hoping business buyers will prefer to order PCs built around AMT rather than those of its competitor.

“One of the things that really concerns CIOs is that they spend a disproportionate amount of time on (PC) maintenance and not enough on the things that move the company forward,” said Doug Cooper, Intel’s country manager here.

Intel studies show that while only 13 per cent of support calls need an IT staff member sent to a user’s desk, that eats up 46 per cent of the support department’s budget.

If the number of visits can be cut down, that cost should also drop.

Intel is also pushing its channel partners to take advantage of managed services to bring in extra revenue.

“The real opportunity (for them) is for new business streams,” said Cooper.

With PC margins dropping, “this is a way to add additional value to SMB customers by offering to manage their systems,” he said.

Centrino Pro-based laptops will include support for the draft 802.11n specification, which will extend Wi-Fi range of up to twice the distance from the current –g protocol access points with up to five times the speed with an –n protocol access point, Intel said.

Laptops with the technology may also include the optional Intel Turbo Boost Memory, said to increase boot and application loading speed.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including ITBusiness.ca. Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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