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At the first day of its Spring Intel Developer Forum the world’s largest maker of semiconductors unveiled details of its Intel Active Management Technology (or iAMT) specification that allows IT managers to remotely manage or repair networked computers transparently to their users saving time and cost of on-site technical assistance.

iAMT to Cut Technical Assistance Time and Cost

The iAMT architectural specification released describes unique interfaces within chipset, network controllers and microprocessors that enable Intel AMT to connect with compatible management and security software, and utilize embedded monitoring and control capabilities in the client platform. Intel AMT will be implemented as a subsystem, completely separate from the host operating system. This independence addresses one of IT managers’ major problems today: intentional or accidental disablement of security and management capabilities in PCs.

Being independent from the operating system environment also enables Intel AMT to monitor and remotely manage a client system even if its operating system is inoperative. To provide controlled access to platform management features while maintaining user privacy and choice, the Intel AMT specification follows industry security and privacy standards.

Intel said the ecosystem developing software to support Intel AMT continues to grow with management and security products planned by a variety of software developers, including Altiris Inc, BMC Software, Check Point Software Technologies, Computer Associates, LANDesk Software, Novell, Symantec, StarSoftComm and Trend Micro.

The main issue iAMT solves is remote management of systems that are physically away from an IT manager without sacrificing the number of operations that can be performed. Thanks to iAMT system administrators will be able to remotely set up new computers, download software updates, perform asset inventories and find and fix many problems even when target systems are turned off, the operating system has locked up or the hard drive has failed. This allows enterprises to save time and cost of technical support of computers without employing a costly proprietary management system.

Slides from Intel Active Management Technology presentation. Click to enlarge.

Intel AMT will be first available on the forthcoming “Lyndon” desktop platform based on i945- and i955X-series chipsets in 2005 and “Bensley” server platform in 2006.

iAMT to Complement Virtualization, LaGrande

Beginning in 2006, Intel AMT will use Web Services Management (WS-Management), a Web services protocol specification that helps address the cost and complexity of IT management by providing a common way for networked systems to access and exchange management information. WS-Management provides a valuable foundation for the next generation of management applications because of the breadth of functionality it supports combined with its ability to take advantage of the security, reliability and transactional features of WS-, the Web services architecture.

Intel's desktop platforms 2005 with VT and iAMT

The specification also describes complementary applications of Intel AMT with other Intel platform technologies, including Intel Virtualization Technology and LaGrande security technology, along with Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) for preboot operations. Vanderpool enables an IT manager to partition a portion of a PC for maintenance and software upgrade operations that are transparent to the user. In combination with Intel AMT, those operations can be performed on a system that is turned off or has defective hard disk.

Intel's desktop platforms 2006 with VT, iAMT, LaGrande and TPM 1.2

The forthcoming LaGrande Technology and Intel AMT complement each other to provide a secure environment for the total platform. LaGrande will improve platform security, while Intel AMT ensures a tamper-resistant management environment that runs alongside other complementary system capabilities. EFI and Intel AMT together provide management access to systems before they boot up, and a rich execution environment for preboot management and security operations.

Intel's rival Advanced Micro Devices with undisclosed partners recently also unveiled specifications for platform management architecture.


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