IT support costs are a major concern for retail, medical, and other markets where end customers have numerous devices, often distributed over a wide geographical area. To cut the costs of securing and managing these, you can turn to the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ processors. These processors offer Intel® vPro™ technologies that simplify and accelerate critical IT functions. These technologies include:

 

  • Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT), which provides remote management and energy-saving capabilities
  • Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT), which supplies security protection over and above ordinary software solutions
  • Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT), which improves the efficiency and security of virtualized environments

 

Together, these technologies help IT staff deter threats, remotely repair systems that have crashed or been compromised, and schedule remote software updates and power management – all of which adds up to lower IT costs and higher uptime.

 

Intel AMT is particularly crucial for keeping costs down. This technology gives remote IT staff “out-of-band” access, allowing staff to remotely access a device even if it is powered down or has a failure at the OS or BIOS level.  Using Intel AMT, staff can remotely repair and update the BIOS, OS, or system software. They can also perform remote power management – for example, scheduling a point-of-sale (POS) device to turn off at the end of the day and then automatically power back on before the next sales day begins.

 

For a deeper dive into Intel AMT, check out the article Manage and Secure Remote Systems by IEI. This article shows how remote management improves security and reduces maintenance in digital signage, POS terminals, kiosks, ATMs, and other remote networked devices. IEI is an Associate member of the Intel® Embedded Alliance – an organization with 160-plus members that collaborate closely with Intel to create optimized hardware, software, tools, and services that give OEMs a head start on their designs.

 

One key aspect of Intel AMT is its ability to facilitate remote system recovery. Alliance members Advantech, RadiSys, and LiPPERT have each combined this capability with unique tools that help IT staff quickly recover from failures. You can learn more in the blog Remote systems require system recovery features and the article Minimizing Downtime in High-Reliability Systems. (Advantech and RadiSys are Premier members of the Alliance, and LiPPERT is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.)

 

Intel AMT also boosts security by enabling remote software updates. Premier Alliance member Emerson Network Power has created a networked medical cart that demonstrates this capability by combining Intel AMT-enabled hardware with security and management software from Symantec. You can get the details in the article A Prescription for a Secure Hospital.


There are a number of other benefits to Intel AMT that I don’t have space to cover here. To learn more, I recommend the Remote Management Round Table with Premier Alliance members Emerson Network Power, Kontron, and RadiSys. You can also peruse a list of Alliance solutions that support Intel AMT.

 

The other Intel vPro technologies, Intel VT and Intel TXT, work together to help secure remote systems. Intel TXT performs a measured and verified launch of the OS kernel and  hypervisor (if one is present), ensuring that the system launches in a known-good state. To see how Intel TXT can be used in conjunction with Intel AMT and Intel VT, check out Open, Secure Platforms for Health Information by Affiliate Alliance member LynuxWorks. You can also take a look at related Alliance solutions that support Intel TXT.

 

Intel VT provides hardware acceleration for virtualization, a technology that enables multiple OSs to run on a single hardware platform. To dig into Intel VT, I recommend the white paper The Benefits of Virtualization for Embedded Systems. This paper lays out the typical use cases for virtualization, as well as enabling solutions from Alliance members.  I also recommend browsing Intel VT-enabled solutions from the Alliance to get an idea of the options available with this technology.

 

To see how Intel vPro pulls these technologies together into a cohesive whole, I recommend the white papers Building Trusted Embedded Systems by Kontron, along with the Intel white paper Smarter Embedded Devices with Intel vPro Technology. Both of these papers offer a fairly high-level discussion of the technologies. For a more technical take on the subject, see the Kontron white paper and Standardized Security Principles for Embedded Computing Industries.

 

manageability.pngThe links I’ve listed here only scratch the surface of what the Alliance has to offer.  For more on reducing IT costs and downtime with Intel vPro technology, see intel.com/go/embedded-manageability.

 

Kenton Williston

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Embedded Alliance

Editor-In-Chief, Embedded Innovator magazine

Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston