Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Intel in the cloud? Chips and cloud access

When the religious war erupts between software and hardware, I will clearly be fighting on the software side. However, I am forced to admit that hardware does play a valuable role at times.

Take cloud computing. While it obviously requires hardware for server storage and management, it's primarily perceived as a software play, in which people in various locations access a system somewhere out there.

But maybe we're missing part of the framework, based upon this InformationWeek article from Antone Gonsalves about Lenovo:

...[Lenovo] on Tuesday announced Cloud Ready Clients, which are ThinkPad laptops and ThinkCentre desktops equipped with client software powered by webNetwork, an application delivery method developed by Lenovo partner Stoneware.

That's nice - Lenovo has found a software partner to provide cloud client software. But the article goes on:

The cloud-ready PCs have to be powered by Intel's second-generation Core or Core vPro processors.

Huh? Presumably the Lenovo computers have the right processors, but why should Stoneware care what types of processors are being used?

Intel is involved because Lenovo uses the chipmaker's application programming interfaces that expose security, management, and power management features in the hardware. These features are used by Lenovo's client software, which it calls Secure Cloud Access.

In fact, additional information about Secure Cloud Access is being provided at an Intel Developers Forum in Beijing, according to this press release:

STONEWARE, INC. Demonstrates Lenovo Secure Cloud Access Solution at Intel Developer Forum

INDIANAPOLIS, April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Stoneware, Inc., a leader in private cloud enablement, today announced that the company will participate in demonstrating Lenovo's Secure Cloud Access (SCA) solution, powered by Stoneware's webNetwork, at Intel's Developers Forum in Beijing, China the week of April 12, 2011.

Stoneware, Inc. and Lenovo have collaborated to create Lenovo's SCA private/hybrid cloud offering designed specifically to take advantage of Lenovo's new Cloud Ready Clients. SCA is the first cloud application that integrates a new set of Intel API's to create a secure and balanced cloud platform within the organization's data center. The solution provides secure access to web, Windows and hosted applications enable a end-user use a java supported browser to access their application and resources from anywhere using almost any device.

"We are very excited about the release of SCA and the ongoing partnership with Lenovo", states Rick German, CEO of Stoneware, Inc. "The introduction of Lenovo's Cloud Ready Client completely changes how an IT organization can securely deliver services and applications to their end-users using the SCA cloud technology. SCA understand the 'context' of the Cloud Ready Device and allows IT organizations to quickly deliver an improved the end-user experience while optimizing for critical success factors such as performance, cost, and bandwidth."

"We've developed Secure Cloud Access and our Cloud Ready Clients to change the way organizations operate, by leveraging the cloud to make their workforce more productive and IT more efficient", said Peter Schrady, Vice President & General Manager, Lenovo. "By collaborating with Stoneware, we're able to create a innovative and game changing cloud solution that allows our customer to utilize the power of the client to deliver balanced and cost-effective data center use with a great end-user experience."

To find out more about Lenovo's new Secure Cloud Access, powered by Stoneware's webNetwork, please see:

About Stoneware

Headquartered in Indianapolis, Stoneware is a privately held corporation providing innovative software that enables organizations to deploy their own private cloud and the virtual web desktop to access it. For more information about Stoneware and its products, visit, or call 888-473-9485.

SOURCE Stoneware, Inc.


Regarding those Intel APIs, Intel is obviously touting those:

Security at network end points is always a balancing act between maintaining user productivity and minimizing risk. But now you can enhance your ability to do both with the hardware-assisted security features that are built in to 2nd generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ processors. These features facilitate:

* Faster data encryption
* Better protection of lost or stolen PCs
* Quick deployment of security patches
* Continuous verification of security agent presence on clients

Data encryption can run up to four-times faster with Intel® AES New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) because Windows 7 Enterprise* Crypto APIs take full advantage of the six new instructions. Plus, you can remotely unlock encrypted drives that require pre-boot authentication and manage data security settings, even when PCs are off....

Laptops and PCs can disable themselves when lost or stolen, thanks to Intel® Anti-Theft Technology (Intel® AT), an option on all Intel Core vPro processors. That’s because Intel® AT enforces data encryption software authentication when PCs are brought out of sleep state, closing a known security gap. If a system is recovered, it can be easily reactivated to full functionality....

Intelligent, hardware-assisted security management features of the new Intel Core vPro processors help you deploy security patches across PCs up to 56 percent faster. What’s more, hardware-based agent presence–checking capabilities ensure that agents on PCs are running and doing their job—helping to protect against the disabling of security software by PC users or hackers....

All told, the hardware-assisted security features available with 2nd generation Intel Core vPro processors can go a long way toward protecting your data and assets without sacrificing workforce productivity and user satisfaction.

I only have one quibble with all of this - and it has to do with an acronym. While it sounds wonderful to refer to Intel's anti-theft technology as Intel® AT, those who have been around the computing world for a while may have a different picture in their mind when the acronym "AT" is used. Remember the IBM PC AT?


Intel 80286

6 MHz at introduction, later 8 MHz



5.25" HD floppy drive (1.2 MB), Internal hard drive (20 MB+)

8 expansion slots

IBM 16 bit slots, 2 ISA slots

Typically EGA - 640x350x64 colors max.

Parallel, Serial

OS Options
MS-DOS, CP/M-86, Early versions of Windows, other environments (UCSD-P, for example)

I don't think that 80286 chip had built-in encryption...
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