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Intel’s vPro platform for business PCs has the potential to cut time and cost from the enterprise IT programs, but the real advantage may be realized in the channel and the small and midsize business market, Intel and others said.

The platform, an extension of the dual-core processor to the business market, is designed to enable enterprises to realize management and cost reductions with virtualization and Active Management technologies that allow for hardware-based policy enforcements like recovery and remote management. But the platform will also bring management and service capabilities to the SMB that were never before possible, said Steve Dallman, Intel’s director of American distribution and channel sales and marketing.

vPro, built on Intel’s Conroe CPU, to be launched in the third quarter of 2006, enables security and management capabilities including the ability to manage, inventory, diagnose and repair PCs even when systems are turned off or have crashed operating systems or hard drives. The second generation of Intel AMT offers the ability to isolate infected PCs before they impact the network and alert IT when threats are removed.

“For the enterprise, this will allow them to do things cheaper and easier, but it is often stuff, that they are already doing,” Dallman said. “For the SMB, they don’t have an in-house expert supporting their infrastructure. When they bring on these tools, it enables a reseller to supply them with a layer of support that wasn’t even possible before.”

The platform further allows for separate independent hardware-based environments inside a single PC so solutions providers can create a dedicated service environment—or partition—where particular tasks or activities can run independently, invisible to and isolated from PC users.

Click here to read more about Intel’s vPro.

The technology’s service and remote management functionalities present a tremendous opportunity for MSPs (managed service providers), who will be able to go deeper and more cost-effectively into their customers’ infrastructure, especially in smaller companies, said Dallman and Jeff Kaplan, managing director of Think Strategies, an IT consulting firm.

“The proliferation of this kind of technology is permitting managed services to become more prevalent,” Kaplan said. “Not only does it enable MSPs to provide the service, but it is making end users more comfortable with MSP as a result.”
“One of the major barriers to the model has been apprehension by end users. They don’t want someone they barely know and might not trust reaching inside of their business. Being endorsed by a company like Intel goes a long way toward making them more comfortable.”

Synced to Market

To enable partners to roll right out to market as soon as the platform launches sometime in the third quarter, Intel is rolling out training and validation programs and is seeding the motherboard to channel companies beginning in the next 30 days, Dallman said. Alliance software partners will also be ready by launch time.

By developing a platform of hardware and software instead of a chip set on which to build, the vendor has armed the channel with a base on which to build solutions right out of the starting gate.

Adobe, Check Point, Cisco, CA, Hewlett-Packard OpenView, Lenovo, Microsoft and Symantec are just a few of the companies set to roll out software for the platform within the next 12 months.

“This isn’t just giving them the keys,” Dallman said of the strategy. “This is saying ‘It’s right here in the showroom, and you can drive off with it the second it’s available.’”