PC vendors push automated management

Hardware vendors are hoping to rescue slumping business PC sales with new automated IT management features.

In a bid to attract business users, improved IT-management capabilities will be a key element of Intel's launch of Weybridge vPro desktop PCs later this year, and in the 2008 version of their Montevina Centrino notebook PCs. It's just the latest sign that desktop management is coming of age.

Embedded IT management sounds duller than glossy sales hooks like Centrino's improved wireless connectivity and longer battery life, but corporate IT managers have been asking for this feature for years. Faced with applying a huge flow of software patches and virus shields to large fleets of corporate PCs, they want the computers themselves to do more of the work.

PC vendors see the technology as a chance to boost slumping sales in the saturated U.S. commercial segment. The industry is increasingly dependent on sales of notebook PCs and emerging markets, according to Gartner. Even Microsoft's January launch of the Windows Vista OS has had very little impact on corporate sales.

In March, an industry standards group called the Distributed Management Task Force unveiled a replacement for its aging ASF (alert standard format) approach to IT management. The new DASH standard (desktop and mobile architecture for systems management hardware) allows IT managers to diagnose and repair computers, even PCs that are too sick to boot up.

"It is a huge leap from where we were before, just being able to wake up a box. Now you can get BIOS information, an inventory, do OS management," said Jack Story, chief technologist for the infrastructure portfolio at Electronic Data Systems (EDS).

"We see the promise of embedded management, and now we're building intelligence into that environment. With higher levels of automation and awareness, the device can do more proactively," Story said.

EDS has been offering automated IT management to its mid-range and large corporate clients by providing computers that incorporate Intel's Averill business management platform chipsets. The chipsets include Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT). The AMT features, which comply with the older ASF specs, have given EDS a marketing advantage in keeping customers happy, he said.

"Customers don't necessarily go out and ask for these capabilities, because we tend to ask for what we know about. So this represents a game changer," he said.

Other IT vendors also see a big market opportunity in automated management. Soon after the DASH launch, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) launched a "SIMFIRE" software tool that allows component vendors to test whether their products meet the new specification. Dell Inc. said its future OptiPlex desktops would use the standard, too.

Intel will push automated management with its DASH-compliant Weybridge upgrade to its vPro desktop IT management platform in the second half of 2007, adding embedded security and virtualization to the bundle of a Core 2 Duo processor, firmware and chipset. Intel will also add limited management features in the May launch of the Centrino Pro, the business version of its new Santa Rosa Centrino bundle, and make that platform DASH-compliant in 2008 with the Montevina Centrino upgrade.

Of course, computers using the DASH standard will not permeate the corporate environment instantly, since users must buy new PC platforms to get it, as opposed to simply uploading software. But businesses will see quick savings once they adopt it, Intel said.

Those changes will be largely invisible to users, but have allowed IT managers using vPro desktops to save an average of 40 percent of the cost of PC management and labor cost, said Intel spokeswoman Chris Dotts. The savings come primarily from reducing the number of deskside visits to diagnose and repair broken PCs, Dotts said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ben Ames

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?