Altiris and Intel vPro Use Cases—Introduction
The big question after successfully provisioning a vPro/Symantec-Altiris environment comes in the simple form of “Now what?” The article series Utilizing Intel® vPro AMT Technology with Task Server covers a lot of the functionality directly (click here to view this series). This article series takes it a few steps further with real-world examples and use cases for taking advantage of Intel® vPro technology through Notification Server.
There are two components for directly interfacing the AMT vPro technology. The first is Real-Time System Manager Solution, and the second is Task Server. Both components utilize much of the same functionality; however, Real-Time System Manager Solution provides a one-to-one interface, while Task Server allows a one-to-many task or job to execute against a group of vPro systems.
To understand how all the components work together, this introduction walks through the basics of the components that will be used throughout the use cases. The list of solutions, or applications, that utilize Intel vPro technology is listed here along with a description:
See the following diagram for a representation of how the two main functional engines work:
This series will focus on these two pieces (RTSM and Task Server) since they are the delivery mechanism for the vPro AMT functionality. Other Symantec Solutions can and will be used through the use cases.
Consider this the core underlining infrastructure for the Symantec use of Intel vPro AMT. All solutions that make use of this component will install it if it is not already installed. The primary products are Out of Band Management and Real-Time System Manager. Other Notification Server Partner solutions, such as HPCM and Dell Openview, will need RTCI installed in order to make use of the vPro AMT functions. The console pages available for this solution center around the configuration of the vPro AMT functions.
The configuration page for Real Time Console Infrastructure is found in the Altiris Console. In the Altiris Console 6.5, browse under View > Solutions > Real Time Console Infrastructure. Under the Configuration folder, the following nodes are available:
The Reports, Resources, and Tasks sections contain the typical items for Altiris Solutions. Tasks include all the vPro tasks available through Task Server. See the subsequent Task Server section for more details.
The Tools folder is also found under the Real-Time System Manager section (it ties into the same data so the duplication is only visual). For vPro AMT, the two applicable nodes are
To simplify things, we’ll simply define this product as "The Real-Time tab within Resource Manager." There are Partner Solutions for HP, Dell, and others that will add items to the left-hand tree, but the Real-Time System Manager node provides all functionality including all vPro AMT functionality available. See the following screenshot for details:
Note: Only the vPro AMT functions are shown above as my Symantec Client Firewall is enabled! Since vPro AMT is a trusted technology my Symantec firewall does not block vPro AMT traffic.
The console is a direct connection to the computer listed under "Managing Resource." As such this is a one-to-one implementation and is useful when troubleshooting a specific vPro AMT system. In the Use Cases where the use defines the target as one computer, often Real-Time System Manager Solution will be utilized.
Since Out of Band is primarily a Provisioning Solution, only a few of its functions will be used in the use-cases provided in this article series. The functions that apply are
Task Server is a sequencing engine, and Real Time Console Infrastructure provides vPro AMT targeted tasks that can be employed singly or jobs that can run a large variety of tasks or actions against a target collection of computers. In the preface to this article, a link provided access to a series focusing on how vPro tasks can be utilized into Task Server, with articles covering additional Altiris/Symantec Solutions for further integration. Before walking through the Use Cases, it will help a great deal to understand how we’re integrating the functionality and how Task Server functions in general.
The vPro AMT tasks themselves are provided by Real Time Console Infrastructure, including the engine that connects and executes functions against a vPro capable system. Task Server handles all the rest, including integrating other Solution functionality within Jobs.
Most automated processes to be executed against one or more vPro AMT systems will fall under Task Server. Task Server Jobs can be scheduled, or executed on demand. Notification Server Collections or individually picked vPro AMT systems can be targeted per Task or Job, allowing a large number of systems to execute at a time (Note: For large environments, multiple Task Servers are recommended).
Before any of the Use Cases can be tested, all target AMT systems must be provisioned in one of the provisioning modes: Small Business (Low security), Enterprise Mode, Enterprise Mode with TLS. Once provisioned, Symantec, via Real-Time System Manager Solution and Task Server, can then work directly with the computers via vPro AMT.
The hope is that many common scenarios will be covered in this article series that can be of use in many environments. Most of the testing will be against a limited lab environment so results may vary and additional configuration may be required, all depending on the complexity and configuration of the environment. Since the hardware and software worlds introduce many levels of complexity and configuration, additional steps may be required to create workable jobs and functions. Having said that, hopefully these provide enough information to move forward.