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By GCN Staff

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Locking into Intel's vPro

Funny what you can learn from a competitor. Just as we were finishing a story on how the state of Indiana is using Intel's vPro to remotely manage desktop PCs, we had the chance to talk with the folks from Intel's biggest rival, Advanced Micro Devices.

The conversation was about that company's new chips, but while we were on the phone, we couldn't help but to ask if AMD had something similar to vPro, half accusing the company of falling behind the times with all this remote management stuff.

AMD senior manager Hal Speed, however, was quick to point out that "vPro is marketing initiative and a brand," rather than a technology.

The functionally underlying vPro is largely based on the Desktop and Mobile Architecture for System Hardware (DASH), a remote-management standard set by the industry coalition Distributed Management Task Force.

DASH is a newly developed set of standardized interfaces for managing mobile and desktop hardware. It can be used by any chip manufacturer, though the Intel rep were spoke with played down the fact.

Also, vPro uses Advanced Management Technology, which is a set of commands proprietary only to Intel. The AMD folks were quick to jump on this fact.

"If [an Intel customer] implements the AMT protocol only, then they will be stuck having to buy Intel technology only," Speed said, helpfully adding that AMD also offers remote management but uses only DASH with no proprietary extensions.

Agencies fear such lock-in, as it is sometimes called.

Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans later confirmed that VPro is Intel 's implementation of DASH on its chipsets and processors. "It is a superset of DASH functionality. There are some additional things you can you can do [with] vPro that you couldn't do with a pure DASH implementation," he said.

He downplayed the worry of lock-in, however.

"For the most part, the broadest features ' the ones most people are actually implementing and using ' they are pretty much open. I don't think there is a significant lock-in concern," he said.

The technology behind remotely managing desktop PCs is growing by leaps and bounds, and administrators and managers should consider these technologies in future information technology refresh cycles. But keep a careful eye out for which features could be deployed for all microprocessors and which ones are brand-specific ' at least if such issues are a concern.

Posted by Joab Jackson on Jun 06, 2008 at 9:39 AM


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