As enterprise PCs continue to evolve from stand-alone boxes to networked devices, development is under way to help IT administrators make them more secure and easier to manage.
Hewlett-Packard Co. and BIOS maker Phoenix Technologies Ltd. are readying product enhancements that will shore up security, and PC blade pioneer ClearCube Technology Inc. is extending its management software with upgrades designed to bring utility computing features to the client.
HP this summer will roll out enhancements to its ProtectTools Security software with the release of its Compaq 7000 series of high-end PCs. The desktops will come with a single GUI to manage the two security modules in ProtectTools: the TPM (Trusted Platform Module), which ensures that only authorized users and equipment can access the network, and the Smartcard Keyboard Module, which uses digital signatures and certificates to prevent unauthorized access to PCs, officials said.
In addition, throughout the year, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., will release more modules that let administrators manage multiple passwords, offer security between the time a PC is turned on and the TPM kicks in, and manage multifaceted authentication for greater security.
For its part, Phoenix Technologies is extending its Core System Software BIOS to enable networked devices such as PCs to interact at a level below the operating system. As a result, devices will be able to store such applications as virus protection and system recovery in a protected area away from the vulnerable operating system.
The Milpitas, Calif., company this week will announce it is making its TrustedCore security software for the BIOS, currently marketed to notebook manufacturers, available to desktop PC makers beginning June 30. Server and embedded-device OEMs will get TrustedCore in August. The software is designed to stop attacks by preventing unauthorized access to networks.
Separately, ClearCube, of Austin, Texas, last week released enhancements to its ClearCube Management Suite that offer users administering a PC blade environment a simpler console and the ability to dynamically allocate blade resources.
The management suites Control Center 4.0 component allows administrators to remotely manage hundreds of users and to reboot and shut down PC blades. The suites Grid Center 4.0 component lets administrators assign multiple users to a pool of blades so that users can be dynamically moved from blade to blade. A new algorithm determines which blade a user should be assigned to at the time the user logs on and can automatically initiate the connection.
Oklahoma Heart Hospital, which runs 120 ClearCube PC blades for its PC operations, is evaluating ways to improve management of the environment, according to Jeff Jones, lead systems engineer.
"Where IT is going is fewer and fewer people managing more and more systems," said Jones in Oklahoma City. "If you want to be more efficient, you have to automate as much as possible so you can move forward and spend less time making repairs."