What is the big deal about the new Intel® Small Business Advantage platform?

Intel has learned from the success of popular platforms, like Intel® Centrino® and Intel® vPro™ technologies, the value of considering the complete end-to-end solution when developing new solutions. Building on these successes, Intel launched the Intel® Small Business Advantage (Intel® SBA) platform this year, aimed at the small business.

The hope is this article will help clear up any questions you have about the platform, who Intel SBA is designed for, and why.

First of all, we want to make this very clear—Intel SBA is not designed for IT professionals to manage. At least 90% of small businesses (1-20 employees) do not have an IT professional on staff, nor have hired a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to take care of their computing assets. And, as there are more than 7 million companies this size in the US alone (more than 60 million worldwide), we realized the need for a PC that does a better job of taking care of itself.

Intel SBA requires several components from Intel (CPU, chipset, and firmware). Since the manageability features and connection protocols are not utilized, an Intel NIC is not required, but still used by many OEMs for security, quality, power, performance, and ease of use reasons. In addition to the hardware requirements, we have added a software application requirement for PC Manufacturers to include for Intel SBA. Think of this software as a “virtual IT person” or “IT concierge” who provides some of the same value of an IT professional or MSP.



Intel SBA Carousel View



Intel SBA List View

There are several basic application modules that come with Intel SBA. While we saw the need to provide a complete end-to-end solution for a non-technical audience out of the box, we will have a Software Development Kit that allows any of our software partners to add their software and take advantage of the platform capabilities. Here is a quick run-down of the built-in apps.

PC Health Center: PC Health Center Application leverages the capabilities built into the firmware to perform maintenance tasks after work-hours. Some very simple maintenance tasks should be performed to keep your computer healthy, but small business employees may forget to perform these tasks, delay the tasks so their work is not interrupted, or simply may not know how to perform them. The PC Health Center wakes up the computer at a scheduled time after normal business hours even if it is shut down, so that these tasks are performed, keeping your computer running at its best possible performance.

Software Monitor: The Software Monitor Application leverages the capabilities built into the firmware to monitor critical software services that run in the background. When one of these services is disabled, the Software Monitor warns you that the service has been disabled so you can re-start the service, and keep your software running properly. It can also send email alerts to a business owner, if desired.

Data Backup and Restore: Users often defer backing up during working hours. Then if they power off their PC overnight, no backup can occur. Utilizing the backup software included in the OS, Intel SBA schedules backups using the PC Health Center, powers on the PC wherever it is as long as it’s on AC power, and proceeds with backups during the employees’ non-productive hours. 

Energy Saver:  This application allows a small business to schedule a system shutdown after hours, and then a time to power up in the morning, saving employees’ time while saving energy. Using energy-saving technology may allow you to take advantage of tax incentives offered by some states or countries.

USB Blocker: Data theft via USB hard drives plugged into PCs pose a security issue, and a small business owner may just want some types of devices blocked, like a gaming joy-stick.  USB Device blocking will enable small business owners to disable entire classes of USB devices.  Examples of USB classes are Mass Storage, Cameras, Printers, etc. They may also configure a white-list of specific devices in each class they do not want blocked, e.g., a mass storage device for backup.

While Intel SBA does not include any of the Intel vPro Technology features an IT Professional needs to manage PCs and notebooks on or off their network, but it does offer the right platform for a small business.

Intel SBA even provides an interesting solution for those MSPs who still provide solutions to their customers that are not under an IT contract. Think of Intel SBA as the perfect business platform for your “extended warranty,” break-fix customers. The platform can be configured to do those pesky tasks a customer often delays and keep an eye on those critical system services. You can program Intel SBA to send you an email when a critical alert is triggered—keeping you closer to your customer, providing a better IT experience, while encouraging them to consider your full service offering when they are ready.

For more information on Intel SBA, go to: www.intel.com/go/sba

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