There’s no question the past 18 months have been challenging for all companies, but no department has had to shoulder the burden of change more than IT.
The new operations have increased the needs and expectations for performance, security, manageability and stability — four important pillars for IT success. For some, this has meant cobbling together solutions. But for PC fleets based on the Intel vPro® platform, all four areas are covered in one solution.
Now in its 15th generation, the Intel vPro platform brings together critical components for desktops or laptops to create the most optimal experience for the business user.
Intel is regularly anticipating future needs — such as work from home. The Intel vPro platform featured remote manageability early on, but it only worked across a wired network. Since then, capabilities have evolved to work over wireless, and can now support endpoint management via the cloud with the Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant. “It allowed us to go beyond the firewall, which was great timing because everybody is at home right now,” says Matthew Harrison, Technical Solutions Specialist for the enterprise PC client at Intel.
Manageability is just one of the pillars Intel vPro works to deliver on for IT customers. In equal parts, Intel is focused on performance, security, manageability and stability though the Intel vPro platform. Here’s what IT pros need to know to prioritize all four, and a few examples of how Intel vPro devices leverage each pillar to strengthen all the rest.
Of all of the pillars, performance never gets forgotten. The Intel vPro platform is optimized to ensure performance isn’t compromised in service to other needs, such as security.
“The most secure environment doesn’t let anybody else in,” notes Harrison. “But that’s not very productive.”
For example, Intel® Threat Detection Technology (Intel® TDT), part of the Intel® Hardware Shield available exclusively with the Intel vPro platform, is built on top of a library that catalogs normal CPU performance which can be fairly taxing to the CPU. The Intel vPro platform is powered by the 11th Gen Intel® Core™ vPro® Processor which comes with an integrated graphics controller (GPU) so Intel TDT can shift that workload to the GPU. Here, it won’t impact processing power and abnormal behavior, such as a crypto mining attack, is able to be detected.
In today’s business environment, the disrupted workforce has introduced a complicated security environment. Workers make independent choices about their systems, or they leave their PC continuously powered up and often unattended. When it comes to patching, for example, this can leave IT pros very unsure about sending out software to a universe of remote systems, particularly if any of the patches has a problem.
“It’s no problem if the business user is just down the hall,” says Harrison. “But if somebody is remote, we’re talking about doing a cross-ship of systems, lots of downtime and, should it corrupt the system, [an IT pro] might not even have a PC ready to swap with them right away.”
Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant and Intel® Active Management Technology, both part of the Intel vPro platform, have contingency baked in to patching. For one, they allow IT to power up the machines to make sure patches are received. And, if there is an issue, tools are made available to IT pros to help remedy and fix that issue. Security without business disruption.
IT pros have numerous needs even beyond security to keep tabs on and reach into machines across the organization. They might need to make fixes or provide more general support. And endpoints aren’t limited to business users. Machines on the network might include kiosks or digital signage, and they need to be managed at all times, even when they are powered off or out of band.
Using targeted TCP technology, Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) helps the Intel vPro platform to work proactively through an established trust relationship to communicate with a device even when the operating system is powered down and the machine is completely turned off. Manageability sets up a dialogue between the console on the machine and system administration so that IT can send instructions at any time, “even if it is simply to say, ‘we want to turn you on,’” says Harrison.
Across the IT environment, different components can seem to be in competition for resources. Maintaining the right balance is what keeps systems stable, reliable and secure. The Intel® Stable IT Platform Program, a part of the Intel vPro® platform, features an extensive validation program across a number of components — processor, graphics, chipset, and network connection – to ensure stability and reduce the number of image changes over 15 months. “This is one of the top reasons people buy Intel vPro,” according to Harrison.
What’s more, Intel tests against older Windows releases, knowing that many customers may be delayed in updating to the latest Intel vPro generation — perhaps because of resource issues, or just because they’re still happy with the older versions. “So we actually allow you to be on legacy versions of Windows, even into next year, because we validated that,” says Harrison.
Perhaps the platform’s biggest weakness is simply its lack of use across all four pillars — so customers are missing out on value. “For performance, stability, and security, the end user doesn’t have to do anything at all to enable those, other than making sure that they’re buying a platform that is Intel vPro,” says Harrison. But manageability does require IT pros to be more hands-on to realize value. “It’s something that they do need to turn on in their environment,” says Harrison. “So we want to remind them that you may be getting value from the security pillar or the stability pillar and not realizing it.” When customers leverage all four pillars, the Intel vPro platform provides a reliable foundation for growth and business continuity and support for the technology needs of a modern workforce.
Laura Rich is a former freelance columnist for the New York Times, author of the Paul Allen biography “The Accidental Zillionaire,” and a former editor at Condé Nast Portfolio, Fast Company, Inc., The Industry Standard and more. She covers startups, tech, the future of work and digital commerce for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Silicon Valley Bank, ServiceNow, Tanium, Coinbase and others.
Intel technologies may require enabled hardware, software or service activation. No product or component can be absolutely secure. Your costs and results may vary.
@Intel Corp. Intel, the Intel logo, Intel vPro® and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.