Components & Peripherals News
Intel’s Stephanie Hallford On Modernizing vPro Platform, Targeting SMB Market
‘We are really starting to reach out to more of the small- and medium-business channel players because that is a very fragmented market. Our channel programs are very effective in hard-to-reach areas. The channel can move fast and fill niches quickly,’ Stephanie Hallford, Intel’s vPro platform leader, tells CRN.
Intel’s vPro has long been considered an industry standard for remote management and security for commercial PCs and has been around for 16 years. But despite its long history, the platform has been evolving and expanding services to more businesses.
Stephanie Hallford, Intel’s vice president and general manager for business client platforms, leads the vPro security platform as part of its Client Compute Group aimed at commercial businesses. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company in March released its latest version of the vPro platform to work with its 12th-generation Intel Core processors, code-named Alder Lake. Hallford spoke with CRN during the Vision 2022 conference in Dallas.
“Our strategy has been really pivoting,” Hallford said. “At 16 years old, vPro is by far the dominant PC platform in large enterprise. And it is built around remote manageability. But 16 years later, we realized we need to do more than that. The ability to reach and manage power on a system in, say Abu Dhabi or wherever it may be, is a huge value-add and with the pandemic that value grew exponentially. Meanwhile, we’ve modernized the offering so it’s easier to implement and activate.”
Intel this year wanted to bring vPro’s offerings to small and midsize businesses to complement its presence in the large enterprise space. “We are really starting to reach out to more of the small- and medium-business channel players because that is a very fragmented market,” Hallford said. “Our channel programs are very effective in hard-to-reach areas. The channel can move fast and fill niches quickly.”
The new light version of vPro—called vPro Essentials—was rolled out in March and introduced to a more than a dozen laptops and Chromebooks. The thinking was that a light version of vPro would be attractive to cost-conscious smaller businesses and government contracts. Hallford said so far, the offering has proven popular among small and medium-enterprise (SME) customers.
“We do a lot of enabling with ecosystem partners. That concept of threat protection—we have capabilities in the platform that we expose through API [security companies] or software to partners like Accenture, CrowdStrike or Windows Defender, and they extract and unlock more value from the platform and they scale with us. We’ve taken some of the less complex elements of the vPro software for large enterprise so that an SME can implement security manageability with a lower price tag.”
Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing for Fremont, Calif.-based ASI, a longtime distributor of Intel chips, said the value proposition for vPro remains even as other technologies are emerging. “There are a lot of things you can do with remote management and updates and to do these things wirelessly, there’s a lot of enterprise value built in,” he said. “They have been doing it for so long and [integrating] the hardware and software just gives a lot of value. There are other solutions out there, but that capability just wins out.”
And as more companies migrate to the cloud and begin to deal more with artificial intelligence, Hallford said customers can have peace of mind with vPro. “It’s completely cloud-ready and cloud-centric,” she said. “We can activate it through the cloud so they don’t have to do that heavy lifting.”