Intel on Monday launched the third generation of its vPro business desktop management platform, adding several maintenance-related automated features, as well as technologies geared toward small businesses with no IT staff.
The vPro version 3.0 platform, formerly codenamed McCreary, comprises an Intel Core 2 quad-core or dual-core processor, the Q45 Express Chipset and the Intel 8256LM Gigabit Network Connection along with version 5.0 of the company's Active Management Technology. The technologies are built using Intel's 45-nanometer manufacturing process.
The concept behind vPro is to automate repair and maintenance functions either inside or outside the firewall to ease the burden on IT departments. Systems can be access even when they are not fully operational, due to a hardware or operating system failure. The key technology in vPro is an "out-of-band" network connect that's independent of the OS and is run by embedded processors.
Among the new features in vPro is a remote alert that enable a PC to automatically notify IT departments when the system is experiencing problems outside preset parameters. There is also a remote scheduled maintenance feature that enables IT administrators to program PCs for regular "tune-ups" through companies' PC management software. A third feature, which Intel calls "fast call for help," enables company employees to enter a key sequence in order to contact IT, even when the desktop is unresponsive.
On the security side, the platform has embedded technology to authenticate PCs using Microsoft's network access protection technology, which enables remote maintenance on vPro-based systems.
For small businesses with less than a couple of dozen notebooks or desktops, Intel offers a "user-friendly dashboard" that provides key system settings and health parameters, the ability to block connection to risky USB devices and a data backup feature that enables users to work through hard-drive failures.
Intel also has added "remote PC assist technology" that connects small businesses with service providers when an user enters a key sequence. Once connected, a service provider can access the system remotely for repair. The remote assistance technology is available only in North America.
Intel has introduced two desktop motherboards supporting the vPro features, the DQ45CB for standard-sized PCs and the DQ45EK for smaller systems. In addition, the company has set up an online vPro Expert Center for the latest information on the technology, as well as discussion forums for users.
Version 3.0 of vPro ships 13 months after the release of the second generation of the technology. Version 2 of the technology was heavily focused on security features that battened down the hatches when a virus storm lashed to the network.