Note: This information is based off Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP1 RC and is subject to changes between now and RTM
So as you read through the Microsoft documentation for SCCM SP1, you will most likely notice that Microsoft SCCM SP1 states they have native support for vPro clients with firmware versions 3.2.1 or higher. If Microsoft only natively supports vPro clients 3.2.1 or higher, you may be asking how vPro clients that are running firmware versions 2.x, 3.0, and 3.1 are supported.
Not to worry; through the use of the Intel WS-MAN translator, SCCM SP1 will be able to provide provisioning and manageability support for earlier versions of vPro firmware. As part of SCCM SP1 Release Candidate, Microsoft has introduced integration support for the WS-MAN Translator (It was not available as part of the initial SCCM SP1 Beta release).
In a future blog, we will provide a little more detail on the Install, Configuration, and SCCM Enablement of the WS-MAN translator; however, let us take this opportunity to talk little more about SCCM SP1 interaction with the WS-MAN Translator.
So why doesn't SCCM support earlier vPro firmware versions? The core reason is that SCCM only know how to communicate to vPro Clients in WS-MAN (Web Service Management). Prior to AMT firmware version 3.0, vPro Client only knew how to communicate in a protocol called EOI (External Operations Interface). So just like one person speaking English to another person that only understands French, when SCCM SP1 tries to communicate with a vPro client with a firmware version of 2.x, the vPro client does not understand what the management console wants it to do. So, simular to a person translating for our French and English speaking persons, the WS-Translator translates WS-MAN calls to EOI and from EOI to WS-MAN.
Ok, so vPro clients with AMT version 3.0 know how to speak WS-MAN. Why do you need the translator for firmware version 3.0 and 3.1? Well without getting into the excessively technical details, there were some changes required in the AMT 3.x firmware to make SCCM SP1 work properly with vPro client running firmware 3.x; these changes were introduced in vPro firmware version 3.2.1. To allow for vPro firmware 3.0 and 3.1 to be supported, we were able to mask those changes that SCCM SP1 required in the WS-MAN Translator.
The other thing that the WS-MAN translator enables is support for PSK vPro Client provisioning. Natively, Microsoft SCCM SP1 only supports PKI (also commonly referred to as Remote Configuration) for provisioning. vPro firmware version 3.0 supported PKI provisioning from the initial release; however, vPro firmware version 2.x did not received PKI provisioning support until versions 2.2 & 2.6. Although we recommend that you upgrade your vPro firmware to the latest version supported by the OEM, there may be some cases were upgrading 2.2 or 2.6 is not a viable option. So to support clients that are running 2.0, 2.1 and 2.5 firmware, the WS-MAN translator offers a means of supporting PSK provisioning. The key item to keep in mind about PSK support within the WS-MAN translator is that it only supports one PID/PPS pair; the same PID/PPS will be used for all your vPro Clients using PSK for provisioning.
If desired, you can use PSK provision through the WS-MAN translator for all vPro firmware versions; however, since SCCM SP1 only uses the WS-MAN Translator for firmware versions less then 3.2.1 you are required to use PKI provisioning for any vPro Client firmware version 3.2.1 or higher. It is for this reason (and the fact that you can take advantage of vPro Remote Configuration) that we recommend you upgrade your vPro Clients to 2.2, 2.6, and 3.2.1 were supported by the OEM.
If you have no vPro Clients in your environment that are less then firmware version 3.2.1, there is no need to use the WS-MAN translator; SCCM SP1 will natively provision and manage vPro clients without the need for the WS-MAN Translator.
As previously noted, stay tuned for more information on vPro Expert Center about the WS-MAN translator in the next couple weeks.