Intel and Microsoft outline new management and virtualization technologies

Posted on Thursday, March 09 2006 @ 1:41 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Intel and Microsoft Corporation today outlined plans to connect computer network management technologies and also to work together to advance promising virtualization technology that will bring businesses new capabilities and cost savings.

In a move to bring unique management benefits to the broad number of users of Microsoft® Systems Management Server 2003 (SMS) for the first time, Intel plans to connect its new Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT) with Microsoft SMS, substantially enhancing customers' ability to more thoroughly protect their computers from viruses and to help significantly lower maintenance costs.

Intel and Microsoft have also joined together to extend Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) to include support for mapping I/O devices to virtual machines on servers with a new specification, published today, called Intel Virtualization for Directed I/O (Intel VT–d). Part of the Intel VT family of technologies, Intel VT–d helps improve the reliability, flexibility and performance of I/O in a virtualized environment. Microsoft has collaborated with Intel on development of the specification to help ensure it provides optimal functionality for users.

Availability of Unique Management Capabilities Expanded
Intel has worked with Microsoft to make Intel AMT interoperable with the Microsoft SMS change and configuration management solution through Intel–developed add–on software. Microsoft SMS 2003 helps simplify computer network management by providing the tools to IT administrators for streamlining the deployment of software applications and updates, managing digital assets and patching security vulnerabilities. As a result, IT administrators can spend more time on strategic projects and less on more routine tasks.

Intel AMT enables network managers for the first time to perform these and other functions for all PCs on their networks equipped with Intel AMT, even if the computers are turned off, or have a failed hard drive or operating system. Until now, network administrators could only perform security updates and maintenance procedures remotely if PCs were turned on, and they often required users' cooperation.

In addition, the Intel AMT component of a PC cannot be accessed by the user, helping prevent users from crippling management software. As a result, network managers can account for the AMT–equipped PCs that are on the network and inventory the versions of software on them.

Existing users of Microsoft SMS 2003 will be among the first to employ the new capabilities provided by the collaboration, allowing them to update their systems to work in conjunction with Intel's upcoming Professional Business Platform, code–named Averill, which will be in PCs later this year. Intel's Professional Business Platform combines Intel's latest microprocessor, chipset, communications and software technologies to meet the needs of mainstream businesses.

Improved Reliability, Flexibility, Performance for Virtual Computing Intel today published the specification for Intel VT–d, which complements work being done in the PCI SIG I/O Virtualization Work Group. VT–d significantly improves performance and robustness of data movement in virtualized environments.

“Microsoft is collaborating with Intel on the design and specification of VT–d,” said Muglia. “VT–d provides another critical hardware foundation for the Windows virtualization architecture. The VT–d hardware foundation combined with future versions of the Windows hypervisor will help provide customers with increased scalability and higher–performance I/O by enabling direct assignment of devices to virtual machines.”

Virtualization enables a single computer to function as multiple computers, each with its own operating system in a separate environment. Intel VT builds support for virtualization into the chip, helping accelerate industry innovation, and enhancing manageability, ease of use and security on server and client platforms. Intel VT will be supported on the Windows platform with Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1, which is scheduled for beta release within 90 days. With the service pack, Microsoft customers will be provided with better interoperability, strengthened isolation to help prevent corruption of one virtual machine from affecting others on the same system, and improved performance for non–Windows guest operating systems. This service pack also provides existing Microsoft Virtual Server customers with an important transition to the Windows hypervisor, which will be delivered in the wave of the next version of Windows Server™, code–named “Longhorn! .”

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