Intel Rolls Out Latest Version Of vPro

The vPro and its sister platform, Centrino Pro for laptops, is designed for system administrators and managed service providers to remotely manage PCs and laptops underneath the operating system with more functionality and security than is present in legacy boot-up processes like Wake-on-LAN.

At a press briefing in San Francisco on Friday, Intel VP and General Manager of the Business Client Group Robert Crooke said the chipmaker has shipped four million vPro and Centrino Pro platforms combined worldwide since vPro's release in September, 2006. Centrino Pro, or cPro, was released in May of this year.

Sales of the platform have grown 50 percent per quarter and vPro boards now make up a quarter of Intel's channel board mix, added North American Channel Manager for iA Products Todd Garrigues. Some 250,000 vPro boards have been sold this year through Intel's North American channel, which is about 20 percent of total vPro sales, Garrigues said.

The latest vPro platform, code-named "Weybridge," comes with a Core 2 Duo processor, the Q35 Express chip set and the 82566DM gigabit network interface connector. Desktop and laptop manufacturers such as HP, Dell and Lenovo have been building vPro and cPro technology into their products for business customers, while managed service and system administration software vendors like Level Platforms, N-able and LANDesk have built integration with the deep-drilling technology into their own platforms for managing IT systems remotely.

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The latest version of vPro addresses some security concerns surrounding the earlier edition. The main appeal of the first platform for system administrators and MSPs managing systems remotely is its core function of powering on a system even if it's turned off, which is a capability written directly into the platform's chipset.

In vPro 2007, the remote-wake mechanism for powering up a system features 128-bit TLS encryption and strong authentication to prevent malicious entry via malware into a system under the OS. New security measures on the latest version of the platform include the isolation and protection of virtualized software from rootkit attacks, detection of malicious patterns in network traffic and OS-absent management with full network security via 802.1x certificates or Cisco NAC postures stored in the vPro hardware.

Maple Tronics has been building the vPro platform into its business-class desktops despite some lag in software developed to take advantage of the Intel technology, said Bret Stahly, COO of the Goshen, Ind.-based system builder and managed service provider.

"What we're trying to accomplish is be more proactive with our managed services offering. We've been selling vPro boards since they first came out in our business-class machines, so that when the software that could run all the fun stuff like remote management came out, we'd have the hardware in place," Stahly told ChannelWeb.

Maple Tronics generally runs managed services platforms from Zenith Infotech and Kaseya, but found in a vPro pilot program it participated in with Intel that rival MSP software vendors Level Platforms and N-able had built in the most integration with vPro, Stahly said. Syam, a vendor of software designed for internal management of networks, also supported many of vPro's feature sets but didn't have a management console that would report back to an MSP working remotely, he said.

"A lot of the feature sets are there and they're great, but we're kind of at the mercy of the third-party software developers. It's looking very promising, we just wish the software vendors and Intel would bridge the gap a little quicker. For business-class machines, we'll continue to sell vPro boards so that we'll be ready for when all the features are supported. It's really up and coming technology for anybody who's going to be an MSP and you'll be able to do incredible stuff on vPro. Say if you have a machine that goes down, you could remotely re-image it," Stahly said.