A little known or utilized feature within the Intel vPro Technology platform is hardware based alerts. The feature can be a key component to proactively notifying the administrator about a hardware event. Examples include system reboots, non-responsive operating systems, system cases being opened, and even a user initiated request for assistance.
When used in connection with appropriate tools and processes, out-of-band alerts could enable an automated response\remedation to key events within the environment. A few key items are needed:
- Subscribing to the appropriate events\alerts
- Target for the receiving of alert message
- Event engine to filter and act upon the alert.
In the case of the Symantec Management Platform, most of the core ingredients and requirements are already in place. Since the Dell Management Console builds upon the same core Altiris infrastructure, the following information is applicable there also.
To learn more about how to enable and utility out-of-band alerts within a Symantec environment, see the following article series:
- Part 1: Using Out-of-Band Events and Alerts with Intel vPro Technology
- Part 2: Using Out-of-Band Events and Alerts with Intel vPro Technology
With that foundation, a better appreciation for the following scenario will occur.
What if a user needed to restore their system to the last successful backup? To complicate the situation - what if the user's system will not boot the local operating system or sufficient corruption of the local operating system prevents an backup\restore application to correct the problem? Without sending a technician to the user or leaving the user with a system for several hours - what role could Intel vPro Technology in connection with Symantec tools to address this type of situation?
The following diagram provides an overview (click to enlarge if needed):
In connection with diagram, see the following proof of concept demonstration video (for best viewing, access directly via YouTube at full screen with 720p setting in the viewer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VD7wAky3aU)
Components outside of the base Symantec solution tool set and Intel vPro Technology include the following:
- Customized Symantec System Recovery Disk ISO image – The core ISO image optimizations are similar to steps described in the article, Optimizing SERT for Intel vPro Technology. Key differences include use of the Custom SRD wizard provided with Symantec System Recovery and removing unnecessary drivers. The two-stage boot redirection utility greatly improves the response time to regular boot redirection.
- Enabling of Intranet Fast-Call-for-Help – Starting with Intel AMT 4.x platforms in the 2008 timeframe, a capability was introduced to Intel vPro Technology for a local user or process on the target computer to initiate a request for assistance. The request would be sent to a defined address as configured in the firmware. The Altiris Out-of-Band Management solution in connection with CheckPoint software can configure this Intel AMT feature for clients outside of the corporate environment (i.e. Internet address and usage). For intranet usage, a custom script or tool must be used as defined by the Intel AMT SDK to enable the AMT Notification alert subscription. An end-user example of this script will be posted in the coming months.
Further customizations of the Symantec Recovery Disk, using a base WinPE bootable ISO, could be made to automatically map the desired network drives, request user login credentials for file access permissions, and so forth. In addition, the process could be integrated into a Workflow process to further integrate into the target production environment.
In connection with the examples shown for out-of-band alerts and events, take a look back at a previous article posted on Integrating Intel vPro into a HelpDesk Environment. Much of the framework in that article is available natively within the Symantec Management Platform.
I am very interested to hear your ideas for integrating these features and components into a daily process.