Intel offers support package for small businesses

Intel Small Business Advantage uses hardware and software to simplify PC maintenance

Intel on Tuesday announced a new suite called Small Business Advantage that takes advantage of specific features baked into the company's Core processors to maintain and secure PCs.

The SBA tools are targeted at small businesses that cannot afford separate maintenance personnel, said an Intel spokeswoman. SBA uses hardware and software tools to perform backups, updates and maintenance tasks such as disk defragmentation, the company said. SBA can start PCs after work hours for maintenance and backup tasks.

SBA is a slimmed-down package of PC maintenance tools provided with Intel's vPro platform, a hardware and software package targeted at larger businesses that makes it easier for system administrators to remotely manage and secure PCs. SBA takes advantage of features in Core i3, i5 and i7 processors based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, much like the vPro platform.

All SBA software is packed into a single interface, which makes it easier for technically unsavvy small business owners to keep PCs secure and up to date, Intel said. One feature is Software Monitor, which tracks security software like antiviruses and issues alerts in case the software stops running. Software Monitor is similar to a feature called Agent Presence in vPro, and the application is stored below the operating system at the firmware level.

A feature called Local Maintenance Timer (LMT) allows a PC to power itself on from an off-state at a prescheduled time, after which it can carry out maintenance and backup tasks. Another feature called USB Blocker allows PCs to block access to USB devices such as flash drives or cameras. The settings can be configured to specify which USB devices are allowed access to the PC.

Intel will sell the package to computer makers, which can then plug the software into PCs.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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