Intel will this month enable value-added resellers (VARs) to provide computing support services more promptly and at lower cost for small and medium business customers, with a new program being rolled out in the US. It will follow in Australia later this year.
The program, called Intel InBusiness Remote Server Center, includes new products and services that allow VARs to service a customer's PCs, servers and other equipment remotely using a Web browser.
According to Intel, the aim is to allow resellers to provide more services without making visits to customer sites, while improving response times and providing savings for VARs.
While Intel Australia piloted a VAR program last year, this one is not expected to be rolled out here until later in the year. According to national sales manager Archie Wilson, it is the "vanguard of a new wave of service-oriented solutions primarily designed for small and medium resellers".
"It will enable VARs to deliver big business services to small businesses at prices they can afford," said David Rowe, director of marketing for Intel's systems management division.
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.