AMD pushes automated IT management

AMD pushes automated IT management

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) released a software tool Monday that could allow hardware and software vendors to meet a new industry standard for IT management and security.

Technology vendors can use AMD's SIMFIRE to test whether their products meet a standard called DASH, for desktop and mobile architecture for system hardware. The Distributed Management Task Force Inc. unveiled the new DASH specification on Thursday as a replacement for the four-year-old Alert Standard Format (ASF).

This jumble of acronyms is important to IT managers because the new standard will allow them to manage a diverse pool of corporate computing gear even if it includes desktops and notebooks made by various vendors, said Margaret Lewis, director of commercial solutions at AMD.

And SIMFIRE is important to AMD because it allows the company to keep up with rival Intel Corp.'s vPro platform, a bundle of hardware and software that allows PC vendors to build computers that can automatically handle many IT management and security tasks. Intel recently announced it would release a new generation of vPro code-named "Weybridge" that adds embedded security and virtualization to its bundle of Core 2 Duo processors, firmware and chipsets. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) is expected to be the first vendor to build Weybridge PCs by the second half of 2007, followed by Dell Inc. and others.

One difference is that SIMFIRE is not proprietary to AMD's chips, and is a royalty-free, open-source product for any industry user. The company expects SIMFIRE tools to be used by PC vendors like HP and Dell, and by chipset makers, semiconductor makers like Broadcom Corp. and IT management software companies like Altiris Inc. and LANDesk Group Ltd.

AMD announced the tool at the Microsoft Management Summit 2007, a trade show where many IT vendors are expected to show compliance with the Distributed Management Task Force's specification upgrade, called Open Web Services for Management, or WS-Man.

One part of that program is an upgrade for ASF, the old standard that had allowed IT managers to remotely power up and boot any PC in their fleet, said Lars Ewe, enterprise software strategist at AMD. The new DASH standard gives them many more tools, including better security and an inventory capability that allows each PC to describe how much memory it has, what type of processor it uses and what version of firmware and BIOS it runs.

The Task Force has not yet named an official compliance testing tool, but AMD hopes SIMFIRE will be part of that package, Ewe said.

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