When I got a recent release from Bomgar about new technology that lets IT pros view and diagnose machines that won’t even start Windows, I was confused and amazed. After some time with Bomgar CEO Joel Bomgar and Bomgar Vice President Craig Weinstock, I’m much less confused and a little less amazed, but I think this could be a useful feature for any IT department that wants to cut down on IT pro trips to user machines.
I’m a little less amazed because this trick requires the user to be on a system with Intel vPro hardware. By pressing a certain key combination, the machine can connect to Intel using the Internet, and from there connect to your IT department—even if Windows won’t start. You can remotely access a user’s BIOS settings and watch the boot process see what’s stopping it from working.
The technology is called Intel Remote PC Assist Technology (RPAT) Hardware with the necessary vPro features is already available, but be careful, because some companies may sell vPro hardware with this feature turned off.
Bomgar is one of the first companies to let IT departments use these vPro features. The Bomgar Box (read more about it here) lets IT pros see and interact with users’ screens, but in the past it was limited to devices that could actually boot. If you couldn’t start Windows, you were out of luck. Using RPAT with the Bomgar Box requires the latest version of Bomgar’s software, but under maintenance agreements, most Bomgar Box users probably already have that. It also requires a subscription to the Intel service associated with RPAT.
Joel Bomgar said interest in this technology is high, but few companies have adopted it so far, mainly because of the hardware requirement. Bomgar said that as companies begin post-recession hardware refresh cycles, the necessary vPro features could be an important consideration.