Intel will this month roll out a program for value-added resellers (VARs) which should allow them to provide computing support services more promptly and at lower cost for small and medium business customers, Intel officials said yesterday.
Called Intel InBusiness Remote Server Center, the program includes new products and services from Intel that allow VARs to service a customer's PCs, servers and other equipment remotely using a Web browser. Allowing resellers to provide more services without making visits to customer sites should improve response times and provide savings for VARs that could be passed on to customers, according to Intel.
"It will enable VARs to deliver big business services to small businesses at prices they can afford," David Rowe, director of marketing for Intel's systems management division, said in a teleconference.
The program is needed because smaller businesses are increasingly using technologies like e-mail, local area networks (LANs) and e-commerce systems, Rowe said. In many cases they look to resellers -- some of whom are already straining under the limited resources available to them -- to help support those technologies.
Using a modified software browser, Intel's program allows VARs to remotely monitor the status of servers and clients on their customers' networks. The system will also notify VAR technicians by pager or e-mail when a system failure occurs at a customer site as well as, for example, when a customer is running low on disk space.
A central component of the service is a PCI card developed by Intel which is installed into a server in a VAR customer's LAN and provides access to the server and other clients on the network. The card has its own microprocessor, modem and even power supply, allowing VARs to access networks even when a server has crashed, Intel said.
The full-size PCI card fits into any Intel-based server, and works with servers running Windows NT 4.0 and Netware 4.11 and 5.0, Intel said.
Intel aims to introduce the program to resellers in Western Europe, Asia-Pacific and Australia before the end of the year, Rowe said.
The cost of the program to VARs is $US9 per customer client per month for less than 25 clients. The price decreases as more clients are added. The special "gateway" cards that provide access to customer networks will be priced to VARs at less than $US500, Intel spokesman William Giles said.