Available now in Intel Broadwell CPUs, and soon in Skylake, vPro enables out-of-band wireless monitoring, management, and control of devices whether powered on or off.
For obvious reasons, remote monitoring and management of a PC is a valuable tool for service technicians. The same number of technicians can work on many more devices and they don’t have to rely as much on users telling them what’s wrong. That means there’s less ambiguity regarding what’s really happening so there is less misdirection and usually swifter and more satisfying outcomes. And if the technician does have to travel to the device the chances are better he or she will arrive with the correct parts and that the visit will be shorter than if the technician had to start the diagnosis from scratch.
Apart from maintenance and repair, remote management is also valuable when it comes to setting enterprise policies such as which networks, management systems, and users can access devices and in which locations.
With Intel’s vPro technology, those capabilities are now possible even when devices are powered down, before the operating system has been installed, and using only on-chipset protected memory (no disk access required). Depending on how they’re configured, vPro enabled devices can also be accessed wirelessly (at 7Gbps via 128 AES hardware encryption) providing full remote keyboard/mouse control. Two monitors and USB 3.0 are supported.
And because remote management is hardware based, vPro offers multiple advantages previously unavailable:
Easier isolation of an issue to a hardware or software fault
Enable preboot access to BIOS settings
Set inbound and outbound network traffic filters before the device connects to the network
Check for the presence of software agents
Verify that the launch environment is trusted via Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel TXT)
Boot from a remote image
Store hardware asset information, persistent event logs, and other information so issues can be diagnosed even when the device is powered off and the OS is down
vPro capabilities will clearly have a big impact on applications in the industrial computing space. Devices will be more secure and easier to diagnose, maintain, repair, and manage — both because of the features themselves and because the features can be accessed and employed the same way across all devices. vPro isn’t just a new set of features; it’s a new model of device remote support and management. And organizations need to get ready.