vPro Allows MSPs to Work the Graveyard ShiftBy Jessica Davis | Posted 2007-02-16 Email Print
The Intel technology allows technicians to remotely boot systems, enabling overnight patches and other maintenance.
No need to be a giant VAR these days to take advantage of the benefits of offshoring some of your labor costs and working during the overnight hours.
Silicon-East, a Manalapan, N.J.-based VAR serving the regional area between New York City and Philadelphia, is using Intel's vPro technology together with an employee based in Israel to access customer networks during the overnight hours to do patches and fulfill customization requests.
The VAR is participating in a pilot program with microprocessor maker Intel and managed services platform provider Level Platforms to equip customers with Intel's vPro platforms.
Intel's vPro technology puts virtualization and Intel Active Management Technology capabilities directly into the system hardware. The approach enables technicians to remotely boot machines to perform remote maintenance during off hours, or fix a system that has crashed.
"You can do it less expensively, and you can do it in the middle of the night," said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon-East, an MSP with just seven employees. The company's Israel-based employee is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time. "We now have around-the-clock support with a small staff, and I'm getting the benefit of lower salary rates in Israel and access to a huge talent pool there."
Harrison said he expects to hire more Israel-based employees.
"It doesn't matter where you are," he said. "You can do this remote management with vPro turning systems on and off."
Indeed, Intel has been promoting its vPro technology to managed service providers as an enhancement they can offer to customers. A handful of ISVs now support the technology for the MSP market, including N-able, Level Platforms and Zenith Infotech.
"There are software solutions to do remote management and break/fix today," said Mike Ferron-Jones, marketing director for the digital office platforms division at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel. "They can fix 83 to 85 percent of reported problems remotely. The remaining 15 percent require onsite service, so when companies look at the capabilities of vPro they look at the opportunity to significantly reduce the most expensive types of problems that they've got. They can fix most problems over the wire."
And that holds appeal for MSPs because they don't just have to travel from the third floor to the sixth floor. They may have to travel across town or across the state.
"If there's a blue screen, as long as the system is plugged into power and a network, you can probably fix it remotely," said Ferron-Jones.
And that appealed to Harrison, whose company serves the real estate industry in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City, including home builders and property management companies.
In one pilot program the company is doing with Atlantic Realty, a 200-seat homebuilder and property management company, that kind of remote management is critical.
"Literally, they have construction trailers on dirt fields 75 miles from nowhere," Harrison said.
So far Silicon-East has installed about 25 systems for the privately held homebuilder. The systems allow technicians to do requested work during the night so as not to interfere with business during the regular workday. Requests include patch management and updating, plus requests for custom configurations.
"Previously we would do these at night and charge overtime," Harrison said. "But now we are doing it off shore. I really hope we will hire more people in Israel. As the whole industry transitions to managed services, it will give us a tremendous cost advantage."