Remote work has become a reality for many businesses. Whether employees are working from home, providing telemedicine services from a health clinic, or managing deliveries on the road, they need their PCs to be up and running whenever and wherever they are.
But when employees aren’t in the same place as their IT help desk, getting the support they need to keep working can become a real challenge. Many IT administrators are no longer able to physically reach devices to ensure they are configured, secured, and operating as they should be. Troubleshooting issues from afar can be time consuming and cumbersome, especially when the operating system (OS) is unresponsive or more than one machine is affected. Shipping a PC to an IT administrator or managed service provider (MSP)—and then back to the employee—takes precious time and loss of productivity.
What Is KVM Over IP?
KVM Over IP, sometimes referred to as KVMoIP or IP KVM, is a valuable remote management capability. It gives IT administrators remote access to the keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) controls of a PC as if they were working in person. The ability to use a keyboard and mouse while also “seeing” into individual PCs via their own computer monitor gives IT administrators a “hands-on” user experience from afar.
Remote Access Types: Hardware vs. Software
IT administrators can gain remote access to PCs using software designed for remote management or via hardware-based technologies. Often hardware and software work in concert to provide more flexibility than either alone can offer.
A hardware-based remote access solution like Intel® Active Management Technology, part of the Intel vPro® platform, combines KVM Over IP with out-of-band management capabilities. Out-of-band management means administrators can power on or restart a PC even if it’s turned off or the OS is unresponsive. They can even remotely mount an image and entirely rebuild the OS using KVM Over IP to respond to user prompts along the way.
Software-based tools do not provide access to BIOS firmware for performing this kind of hardware initialization during the boot process.
Advantages of KVM Over IP
Being able to perform remote client management using KVM Over IP supports greater productivity overall with less user downtime due to PC issues. Troubleshooting and resolving problems requires fewer IT resources and less time than tackling problems in person on individual machines. All of this translates into several business benefits:
- Greater productivity. Remote access capabilities eliminate the need for IT staff members to travel for PC updates and maintenance. This applies not only to remote employee devices, but also to userless PC-based devices in remote locations, such as oil rigs or research stations.
KVM Over IP is especially advantageous for MSPs who manage technology infrastructure for their clients. Rather than send a technician to a site, MSPs can manage virtually all PC tasks remotely. A single admin can manage PCs across an enterprise with endpoints distributed around the globe.
- Safer work environments. With KVM Over IP, IT admins can access PCs in places that could pose a risk to their well-being—for example, hospitals where the potential exposure to pathogens is high. Fewer people entering a hospital also keeps the environment cleaner and limits disruptive nonmedical activity. Safety risks are eliminated in other cases too. Remote access means there’s no need to climb up a pole or ladder to reach a smart billboard or wind turbine.
- Fast response time. When an employee has a computer issue, KVM Over IP allows IT staff to troubleshoot as if they were in the user’s office. A point of sale (POS) system can be repaired before customers become frustrated with long lines. A manufacturing line can get back into production faster. And when it comes to security threats, KVM Over IP lets IT administrators react quickly to ensure that systems are safe and users’ workflows remain uninterrupted.
- Hardware Security. Some worksites, such as clean rooms or labs, require a high level of physical security. Entering these facilities can involve strict procedures for donning protective gear and moving carefully through the space. Fewer hands-on interactions reduces the likelihood of disturbing sensitive environments and equipment.
- Life-cycle management. As people come and go within an organization, KVM Over IP allows MSPs or internal IT admins to remotely reconfigure old PCs for new hires. The process can be as simple as setting up a new Windows profile or entirely reimaging the OS.
In some cases, organizations need evidence that every computer has had a secure erase after an employee moves on. KVM Over IP supports integration with third-party tools that can perform the secure erase, remove any intellectual property or personal data from the machine, and provide a certificate of erasure as proof that the process was completed.
Intel vPro® Platform
In the past, hardware-based KVM Over IP was available only as part of a complex data center environment. It required thousands of dollars’ worth of infrastructure to set up—Ethernet cables, remote KVM switches, and other expensive hardware. When supporting a remote workforce, it’s simply not practical to install a KVM switch in each employee’s home office.
The Intel vPro® platform eliminates the cost of setting up an extensive hardware infrastructure. This built-for-business PC platform delivers the same KVM Over IP capabilities as a data center‒based solution, built right into the PC.
What’s unique about the Intel vPro® platform is that it offers both KVM Over IP and out-of-band management with Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT). These hardware-based capabilities operate independently of the OS and give IT administrators robust remote access.
Intel® Active Management Technology can be accessed via several interfaces and third-party tools, including:
- Intel® Manageability Commander (Intel® MC), a lightweight console
- Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant (Intel® EMA) for cloud-based access
- Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) plugin
- MeshCommander and MeshCentral for peer-to-peer remote management
This approach is vastly more affordable, and it allows businesses of all sizes to enjoy the same remote management capabilities as enterprise-level organizations. To get started with KVM Over IP, look for devices built on the Intel vPro® platform or ask your MSP for device options.
The Intel vPro® platform delivers the same hardware-based KVM Over IP capabilities as a data center‒based solution, built right into the PC.