Hi guys, in this post we continue our theme with ‘what we heard you asking us at TechEd USA 2010’. As we mentioned in a post earlier this week, we have been talking here in Redmond about the trends of questions posed to us at TechEd by you. Some were mentioned a few times so we felt they would best be served by a blog post. The first of these was yesterday’s post entitled “What version of Configuration Manager do I need, and in what order?”
In this post we want to clarify what Power Management capabilities are included in ConfigMgr, as many of you mentioned you thought there was overlap with Intel vPro, Wake on LAN, and the R3 Power Management features. In addition, there is a new feature of Windows 7 called the Windows Wake Timer, that is supported in the ConfigMgr console. So, let’s break these down with some explanations.
Intel vPro technology has been around for a few years, and is a collection of technologies built within the Intel vPro chipset family of Processors, System Boards and network cards. Combined, these provide a platform for hardware based management scenario support that includes ‘Power Control’. This vPro technology was first integrated with ConfigMgr 2007 Sp1, which at the time was vPro chipset versions 3.2.1. This first introduction of support focused on LAN based connections. As a console extension, vPro could be used when configured, activated and discovered by ConfigMgr managed systems to provide some pretty cool scenarios. For example, Power Control (Power Up /Down) for 1:1 or 1:many (collection) systems. Within the Power Control, this integration also allowed for Reboot management, and in a Power Up activity, reboots could be directed as normal boots, boot to safe mode, boot to BIOS, or Boot to PXE. In addition, this Power Control could reboot a system remotely to an ISO file for Help Desk scenarios.
This support was extended in ConfigMgr 2007 SP2 to pick up support for vPro chipset versions 4 and 5. This also extended support from LAN to 802.x (wireless) connections. Very cool. Last year at MMS we used this support to wake up 20 laptops in the keynote audience and migrate the systems from XP to Windows 7. That was a fun demo, but doing it live in front of 4000 was a little wild.
So, vPro IS a Power Control capability, but as we hope this clarifies, it is not a Power Management toolset by broader industry definitions. What that means is, we do not deploy Power Management monitoring, policy enforcement, or reporting capabilities with our System Center integration. It is more of an activity based capability that a Help Desk may adopt, and a very good one at that. For more information, check out the Intel vPro Expert Zone, tell Matty over there we sent ya……….great guys.
Wake on LAN
WoL is a topic of popularity as organizations try and do more and more lights out management. That means, using the time zones to reduce user interruption and take advantage of off hours to support systems, remediate Help Desk tickets and of course, take care of IT Administration duties (like patch) outside of regular off hours. WoL has some pretty standard challenges across the industry, and its usually based in security. For example, to truly support WoL, organizations need to allow for network WoL packets to travel the network, across switches, subnets and networks. That type of broadcast traffic is typically blocked at network segment (switch ) levels. That has impacted WoL adoption. Why is it blocked and considered a bad idea? Denial of Service network attacks typically take advantage of it. So, the security teams get a little twitchy.
ConfigMgr supports WoL. Within things like Software Updates, as well as Software packages, WoL can be enabled at a package or update level, so when deployment happens, WoL packets make sure the target systems are lit up to receive and install the payload. Very cool. Again, this is not Power Management, as all this is doing is attempting to reach out and wake up systems for maintenance or targeting. For more information on the Wake on LAN support in ConfigMgr, check out this link in our TechNet documentation.
Windows 7 has made significant effort in the area of Environmental engineering. Idle Power and Background Activity, Device support, Timers and alarms, and support for Power Policy are just a few. From a System Center perspective, the Wake Timer is now incorporated into policy control for Power Management. This is probably one of the coolest features new to Windows 7. The Windows Wake Timer allows a local policy to be set on the client to literally ‘wake up’ check for activity, and go back to sleep. This is a major step forward for organizations who want to employ Power Management policies, but want to be able to perform out of hours management. This feature solves any network WoL challenges or limitations by completely removing the need to provide support for Wake on LAN infrastructure or capabilities. This feature alone will provide every organization who adopts Windows 7 a WoL solution. Absolutely brilliant.
Configuration Manager 2007 R3
Currently in Public Beta, the R3 release of ConfigMgr will deliver Power Management. This capability is explained in 3 areas:
- ConfigMgr 2007 R3 will be able to monitor consumption of power by systems on the network. This monitoring, when enabled, will be able to report in several formats, for example watt consumption, CO2 emission, or activity levels of users, systems or monitors. This data, collected silently, and enabled by 2 mouse clicks, will immediately bring back data from clients that enables an organization to make informed decisions about usage, consumption and peak times.
- Once this type of data has been reviewed, R3 will also be able to define and enforce Power Policy. Done at the collection levels, R3 Power Policy will be able to be defined any way the business requires. Policy can be configured for slightly different settings at Peak or non Peak times, on Battery or AC power, across all 3 of the standard Windows Power Policies. So in total, Windows clients can be configured in a matrix of Peak/Non-Peak, Battery/AC, and both of these can be customized within Performance/ Balanced/ Power Saver for a total of 12 different behavior categories.
- Through monitoring, defining policy and enforcement, R3 has comprehensive reporting capabilities. For example, H/W inventory for Power Management, consumption of KW, CO2 emissions, and more. In R3 ConfigMgr adds 12 new reports specific to just Power Management. System Center recognizes that defining and enforcing power policy is only part of the story for an organization . Rich, accurate reporting local to your power grid (cost of KW), or CO2 emissions savings are true measurements of these benefits.
Through all of this ConfigMgr 2007 R3 will help organizations reduce their power consumption. This alone will save the business money by lowering the cost of power for the organization. In addition, some parts of the world like in North America are introducing Power Management incentives. These incentives are in the form of rebate programs offered by power grid companies in the form of credits to a company if they can prove they are providing power policy management to their systems. So, in addition to just reducing power bills, ConfigMgr R3 may be able to help you qualify for additional rebates from your local supplier (this will vary worldwide).
There are many different things one can consider with respect to power management. There are also differences between power control, power activities and power management. Hopefully we have provided you some clarifications about what System Center Configuration Manager provides, to help you in your planning. We also have several partners in the Power Management space. Adaptiva, 1e and Verdium also provide capabilities that provide additional features should you require those.
Here are some resources for you:
- Windows 7 Power Management Overview
- Power Management for Network Devices in Windows 7
- Intel vPro Expert Zone
- System Center Configuration Manager evaluation and beta programs
- Blog post on How New Efficiencies in Software Can Help Businesses Go Green