Hardware makers in the PC industry have been working harder to make the life of an IT manager easier in recent years by ensuring the machines can be diagnosed and fixed easier, especially in times of crisis.
The recent recall of 208,000 laptop PC batteries by Lenovo Group is a prime example. For companies such as Coca-Cola and others with operations all over the world, figuring out if company laptops were affected by the recall could be a nightmare for an IT manager.
But thanks to software Lenovo has built into its PCs, called ThinkVantage, and a tie-up with IT management software vendor LANDesk Software, such recalls have been made far easier to deal with in recent years.
"LANDesk software helps give a top down view of the situation, and in this case an IT manager can print out a report that tells exactly which machines need a new battery and which don't," security business line manager for LANDesk, Devin Anderson, said.
Such software, or intelligent firmware as Anderson puts it, is fast becoming a standard part of all desktop and laptop PCs. Intel, for example, is building such ease-to-manage right into its chips with its vPro technology, while AMD uses a similar technology it calls SIMFIRE in its microprocessors. Such software is designed to help automate many IT management and security tasks, such as component recall information collation, and advising on software patches and security upgrades.
The idea of using intelligent firmware in PCs as an aid to IT managers has been around for a while. LANDesk, for example, used to be part of Intel, and PC makers have long used their own software to ensure all components and software in an organsation's PCs and laptops are covered over their lifetime.
Each major vendor has its own software, and some have worked with major developers of IT management software, such as LANDesk, to maximise the capabilities of the software.
Lenovo and LANDesk co-developed the LANDesk Management Suite 8 for ThinkVantage Technologies, designed specifically to make trouble-shooting easier for IT managers handling Lenovo products.
"Recalls have a big impact on productivity. IT managers need to know how many machines are affected and how it will impact the business. In the case of this battery recall, the software helps them see which ones need replacing. [LANDesk for ThinkVantage] will collate the information, put it in a report and an IT manager can either send or fax in the report or cut and past the information," Anderson said.