After working with Intel vPro technology for over 3 years - I still get surprised by little features that appear in the product. Some features might not sound too interesting at first, but upon seeing how these are used my opinion changes.
One such features is the "PC Alarm Clock" capability in AMT 5, with software development support in the Intel AMT SDK 5.1.
An overview of this features is explained at http://communities.intel.com/docs/DOC-3483.... why that article is posted in the Server Room area of Open Port I do not know.
I was at IDF2009 this week and had a chance to visit the McAfee showcase booth. What I saw was very impressive. PC Alarm Clock provides a uniform "wake-up" at a defined time with an indication of what caused the power-on. Was the system powered on because of a user hitting the power button or did the PC Alarm clock trigger the event? Before visiting the McAfee booth, my first thought was "hey - that can be done via a system BIOS". Well - I got some education.
Not all OEM BIOS setups support a timed wake-up. If they do - having a uniform access to configure\control across OEMs would require disparate tools. Plus - having a mechanism for an agent to know whether the system was powered due to user local to system or scheduled time is helpful. Plus - an Intel AMT power-on event to a collection of systems is possible IF those systems are connected and IF you are okay with a unicast message to each system thus having a potential delay from first system to last system that powers on. Plus - with PC Alarm Clock within Intel AMT - the time is synchronized. Etc, etc
So here's the situation. To avoid disrupting work hours with anti-virus scans or other maintenance routines... what if the system were scheduled to power-on at 3am to perform these tasks. If powered on via PC Alarm clock, what McAfee agent will do is sense this and know that it's time to run a scan, and so forth. At the conclusion of the scan, the McAfee setup will gracefully shutdown the system. Thus - all assigned systems get a set time to power-on... and at that set time, all systems power-up, check to ensure it was a scheduled power-on, run the scan, and then return to an off start gracefully.
Ok - to some that might seem too simple to really matter. But to me, after working with various management solutions and Intel vPro technology - that's a better cool approach. It's a difference of push vs. pull... and when you're talking about hundreds or thousands of systems being orchestrated to perform an event... that little feature called "PC Alarm Clock" in the right hands such as McAfee... it's pretty cool
What do you think?