Here at TrustedReviews we tend to focus on the consumer and small/home business side of the IT industry. However, every now and then we like to dip our toes into the murky waters of enterprise computing to see what it has to offer.
Today we have the dc7700p from HP in our labs and, aside from being a small business desktop, it has one very interesting feature we’ve not had a look at before. It’s called Intel vPro Technology and it’s something that could revolutionise the IT support industry.
Aimed at very large businesses, vPro is a combination of Intel’s latest Active Management Technology (AMT) and Virtualization Technology (VT).
Intel AMT integrates a management engine into the motherboards chipset. Locally, it can monitor activity, taking any appropriate remediation action if problems arise. Remotely, it allows external systems to communicate directly with hardware, bypassing the need for a local software based management agent to be running. In short, IT departments no longer need to wait for a PC to boot up, and load a software management agent, to be able to perform remote diagnosis and recovery actions, reducing the number of site visits required.
Intel VT is a lightweight virtualisation machine (VM) that provides an extra level of security for the system. A VM is essentially a small program that, on the one side, interfaces with the computer’s hardware and, on the other, presents itself to the user’s Operating System (OS) as that hardware – thus creating a virtual computer. Within the VM you can embed other programs like firewalls or spam filters. Information can then be filtered before it enters or leaves the OS, greatly reducing the risk of threats proliferating throughout a network.
As someone that’s worked in IT support for a number of years, I can instantly see the benefits of these technologies. Just the ability to administer to a PC at anytime regardless of its state would save countless emails, phone calls, and, site visits and greatly increase the efficiency of support operations.
Intel has collaborated with a number of system providers including HP, Siemens and EDS to supply vPro certified hardware. Notable by its absence, however, is Dell who has chosen not to implement a vPro based solution. It wants Intel to use an open standard so that AMD based systems can also be vPro certified. After its long association with Intel this is quite a surprising stance for Dell to have taken. Anyway, I digress.
The dc7700p, then, is the ultra-slim desktop version of HPs flagship 7000 range of PCs. Configuration options include the choice of dual-core Pentium D or Core 2 Duo CPUs, 80 or 160 GB hard drives, 512 MB or 1GB RAM, and Intel integrated or ATI X1300 graphics. All systems use Intel’s Q965 chipset. The system I’m looking at is based on a Core 2 Duo E6300, has 1GB RAM, and uses Intel integrated graphics. Also included in the bundle are a keyboard and mouse.