The Pros and Cons of Intel VPro Technology – Part 1

This is the first of a multi-post journey thru the pro’s and con’s of Intel AMT VPro Technology.  I’ve recently been thru a 3-4 month Intel VPro implementation (to be fair, it’s not complete yet) with Newton Cunningham with Cireson.

Since the whole implementation is most likely going to be a novel and still ongoing, I’ll have to write this in pieces.  Hopefully some of you can avoid some frustration when doing your implementations.

VPro and AMT (Active Management Technology) are sometimes used interchangeably in the industry.  You may hear either term being used when referring to VPro technology.  Vpro is basically a marketing term for a basket of features for manageability and security.  For example, the biggest driver for our client was the remote KVM capability of the AMT device.  This was very important because the client had many remote sites with no IT staff onsite.  How many times does your IT staff get a call about a hung machine or blue screen and try to walk a regular person thru troubleshooting?  Yeah, good luck with that.  Most of the time, it’s either a long drive for a deskside technician or a replacement PC overnighted in the mail.  Either way, it’s an expensive and time consuming effort.

The best feature in my mind is the KVM functionality of the AMT VPro chips.  The AMT device doesn’t care about the OS.  It doesn’t care if the machine is powered on or off.  You connect to the AMT device directly to view the blue screen , the OS, the BIOS, the dark screen (because it’s turned off), etc.  So instead of having to walk a user thru troubleshooting a blue screen over the phone, just use VPro and get it fixed remotely.  We used VNC Viewer Plus which seemed to work just fine.  No client required on the target machine, only the Viewer piece on your technicians PC. I know there are a few other vendors that also have VPro support as well.

The next question I get was – how in the world do you fix a blue screen remotely?  Do you have every employee in the company carrying around an XP or Windows 7 install disk to repair it?  Here’s my second favorite feature – IDE-R or IDE Redirection.  This allows you to boot a remote computer to an ISO on the network.  Examples would include your companies’ WinPE disc, an XP disc, Windows 7, a utility boot disk, etc.  You create a share for your technicians to use and boot remote computers that need repair over the network.  Granted, a 400 MB WinPE disk over a small WAN link is still going to take some time, but still much faster than an 8 hour roundtrip or an overnight UPS package.

Next up – Part 2 – Details and examples of KVM and IDE-R

Posted in Intel Vpro, Remote Control, SCCM 2007, SCCM 2012 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment