“Yes we can!” - SCS 6.0 now reaches the SMBs

 

Overview

When we first got back to the drawing board and thought about new SCS Architecture, for SCS6.0, we had several things in mind.

It was clear that the existing provisioning flow (end to end) had to be simplified – Feedbacks from the field, showed that the required IT setup and configuration interaction required steep vPro specific learning curve, even before the actual provisioning process that happens through the SCS tool.

We also realized that in order to improve the ISV integration we had to listen to Key ISVs’ trends. Some of them requested the ability to configure vPro from the local host while others - SMB/MSP ISVs had different needs.

Interoperability and scalability were also 2 focus items when we started the new design.

The plan was to hit the road with a new agile development methodology – SCRUM.

In parallel, we decided to break the setup and configuration logic into different components that ISVs can use as their building blocks.

This new architecture allows ISVs greater flexibility in order to provide a more integrated solution that will be easier to use by IT administrators, or on the other hand, can be used by small scale ISV who are not interested to deal with provisioning as part of their offering.

Let the SCRUM begin!

 

SCRUM is defined as agile development process that allows teams to deliver usable software periodically throughout the life of the project, absorbing change and new requirements as the project proceeds.

Working agile for us, meant being able to divide the SCS deliverables into short iterations (“sprints” ) and by the end of each sprint be able to provide “potentially shippable” product - Something that can be actually used by the customers.

This way, in an incremental effort, we are sharing more features and high quality releases on a regular basis.

 

This is how the SMB requirements started floating around. First, through several email threads and then, after the team looked at the requests, they all said: “Yes we can!”

In an effort to reduce the number of tools trying to solve similar problems to the customers, and in reality only adding to the confusion, we defined the following milestones for SCS6.0:

    Release #1 – Q1’09 (ww03’09) - SCS 6 Technology Preview #1 - SMB Provisioning

    Release #2 – Q2’09 (ww15’09) - SCS 6 Technology Preview #2 - Enterprise Provisioning

    Release #3 – Q3’09 (ww32’09) - SCS 6 Technology Preview #3 - Maintenance, Installer and improvements

    Release #4 - Q4’09 (ww45’09) - SCS 6.0 Final - AMT6 Features Support

 

The Lightweight provisioning and the SMB provisioning story

 

The recent technology preview provides a lightweight solution aimed for small and medium business (SMB) customers. In the spirit of the SCS 6.0 approach, pre-requisites were reduced to minimum: No DB is needed (XML based solution is the alternative), No configuration is needed - Profile is ready. It can be installed on any windows based host, No prerequisites from the “server” and … Low footprint on the host system.

In only 3 simple steps, that take only few minutes, the user can now configure the machine (with or without PSK).

All that is required is:

       User step 1: IT installs SCS 6.0 LW with default profile out of the box

       User step 2: IT buys RCFG certificate

       User step 3: IT remotely distribute host based Activator (Through existing Management consoles that are out there already, in the organization)

Or … with PSK:

       User step 1: IT installs SCS 6.0 LW with default profile out of the box

       User step 2: IT remotely distribute host based activator

       User step 3: IT admin creates USB file containing PSK/PID pair to be consumed by the Intel® AMT (One touch end-user restart is required)

Lastly, there is also an option to do Local USB key configuration through the Activator’s GUI in SCS 6.0. This manual configuration takes 2 steps:

       User step 1: User insert USB key containing GUI Activator SCS 6.0 application

       SCS Activator Determine Local AMT State

       SCS Activator creates setup.bin file containing all information needed to configure the system (using user input regarding password and        information if no DHCP is present)

       SCS Activator formats the USB key then copies both setup.bin file and the Activator application to the disk again.

       User Step 2: USB Key – Reboot & Approve

       End User Shut Down Applications and Reboot PC

       End User “Approve” BIOS AMT Provisioning Process

 

Under the hood

 

For those interested to know what’s going on under the hood, the new SCS6.0 technology preview #1 contains 3 elements:

AMT Configuration Server Service — A Windows service (known as the SCS service) performs the steps required to make an Intel AMT system operational. (This includes Intel AMT Release 2.0 and later releases.) The configuration is determined by a configuration profile stored in an xml file. The SCS service exposes a WMI interface for managing the configuration file, creating and importing USB keys and performing configurations (see the MOF API section for details on the interface). The SCS service writes log messages to a file.

Intel® vPro™ Technology Activator Utility — This application runs on an Intel® AMT system. It performs a diagnosis of the current state of the Intel AMT system and triggers the SCS (via its WMI interface) to perform configuration or unconfiguration.

• SCS Console — A GUI application for managing the SCS configuration profiles and creating and importing USB keys via the SCS WMI interface.

 

The new technology will be demonstrated in 2009 ISMC, but you also have the ability to download it and experience it yourself. The ease of use of the Intel® AMT Setup and Configuration Service (SCS) 6.0 first Technology Preview can be checked here:

http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/download-the-intel-AMT-SCS-technology-preview/

See also a simple demo that shows the usage of this release using the link above listed under "Additional Information": Sprint 5 Demo