Intel launches innovative vPro Technology to high expectations

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CAIRO: Intel Corporation introduced an innovative new package of hardware and software on Wednesday at a lavish event at the Grand Hyatt Cairo. Called Intel vPro, the new technology is poised to remake the way that businesses of all sizes use their personal computers and wider networks by providing IT professionals with higher levels of computing performance, greater energy efficiency and more proactive security mechanisms. According to Intel, early trials with select businesses showed an average potential cost savings of 40 percent.

“Very simply, vPro is a change in the way businesses and IT managers view and use PCs, says Khaled El-Amrawy, Intel Country Manager for Egypt, Levant and North Africa. “We are packing in features that address what plagues businesses most – security threats, cost of ownership, resource allocation, asset management and uptime – into a single platform that is powered by the greatest multi-core processor in the world.

In an exclusive interview, El-Amrawy explains the major concerns addressed by vPro and the innovative mechanisms on which the technology package is built. “We address some of the major problems IT departments face today, he says, “Especially in a department with multiple PCs in many different places. Those are repair and upkeep, security and data protection. These concerns are addressed by what El Amrawy calls “virtualization, the idea at the heart of the Core2 Duo processor.

“If someone has old software run on DOS, offers El Amrawy as an example, “and they don’t want to change software or are concerned about data transfer, but they want to use newer features that DOS will not support, Core2 Duo will allow their computer to act like 2 different machines by creating a second virtual machine. One can run on DOS, and one can run on Windows or Linux.

vPro’s main thrust is in the realm of security. Intel Active Management Technology (IAMT) allows IT professionals to remotely diagnose, quarantine and repair PCs, even when they are turned off or their operating system is down. This allows IT managers to nip a potential system-wide problem in the bud before it can seriously damage productivity. Intel has released over 20 case studies of vPro trials from large and small businesses, whose outcomes point to a potential maintenance and labor cost savings ranging from 7 percent to a staggering 95 percent, resulting mainly from a drastic reduction in the number of desk-side tech support visits.

Intel has also introduced common sense yet innovative approaches to internet security through its Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which stores sensitive innovation like passwords on the motherboard rather than on the more easily hacked or stolen hard drive. In addition, the Core2 Duo allows IT managers to run more frequent and thorough virus scans without interrupting user activity by seamlessly switching user function between the two virtual machines.

The third area of vPro and Core2 Duo innovation is data protection, critical for businesses of all sizes to maintain smooth operations.

“If data is only on one hard drive it is vulnerable to crashes, explains El Amrawy. “vPro provides more frequent back-ups, and Core2 Duo is like having two hard drives on one machine; one in the background and one in the foreground. If one hard drive crashes, the processor seamlessly transfers data from one to the other, and the user will only see a small notification that repairs are under way. This is critical for financial and bank applications, when you cannot afford to lose your data.

vPro and Core2 Duo are all part of what El Amrawy describes as the “more holistic approach to IT that Intel has begun to take. At one time known primarily for their microprocessors, the corporation is now gaining attention for their platforms as well.

“Rather than bring consumers just the microprocessor, we are now bringing them the whole solution, the platform itself, he explains. “We provide the software, the network chip and the microprocessor all in one package.

“Consumers want mobility, he continues, “and that means light weight, small size, long battery life and wireless capability. We provide all those things, and work with other companies to provide the ecosystem to support them, for example, by encouraging internet service providers to establish more and more wireless hot spots.

The world of IT is moving toward more wireless connectivity at faster speeds, lower prices and more efficient energy use. The introduction of vPro provides Intel a strong opportunity to lead the way, and El Amrawy predicts that the new package will be received well by consumers at large. Worldwide sales projections for vPro are in the tens of millions, although there are no sales predictions for the local Middle Eastern market.

“Our product road map is extremely solid for the second half of 2006, he says. “Core2 Duo was only introduced last month, but is a key ingredient in multiple platforms to come. We are in an extremely strong position to serve the market for the next few years, and our share price on the stock exchange has increased over the last few weeks to reflect that strong position.

That position is made even stronger by Intel’s move toward holistic IT, a field in which vPro has helped the corporation to excel.

“Our competitors provide basic pieces of vPro, but only we offer the complete solution. And it is a scalable solution which can support a very small company of maybe three or four people, or a major multinational with hundreds of thousands of employees, says El Amrawy. “Managing IT is not new, fixing computers remotely is not new. But the way that we do it is a real innovation.

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