Intel Releases WFM 2.0 Spec

Intel’s Wired For Management (WFM) initiative was originally conceived as a response to the outcry over exploding support costs and lack of true TCO controls in the PC market. The WFM specification, now in revision 2.0, builds upon the existing specification to add manageability capabilities for desktop, mobile and server systems.

It was just over one year ago when Intel announced that WFM-compliant machines would need to include support for Desktop Management Interface (DMI) 2.0 specifications, off-hours management, Wake-on-LAN, network administration and a pre-boot execution environment that allows a machine to download operating system updates and other software from a server.

As expected, WFM version 2.0 provides support for each of these specifications, as well as for emerging technologies engineered to further augment the manageability of Intel-based PC workstations, servers and laptops.

All of this adds up to a substantial improvement over the WFM 1.0 specification, says Rob Enderle, senior analyst with consultancy Giga Information Group (Santa Clara, Calif.). "The WFM initiative from Intel is certainly an improvement over the 1.0 specification, and it provides for everything from remote startup of computer systems to being able to change pretty much anything on the machine that you could change remotely, including flashing the BIOS," Enderle contends.

Also new in the WFM 2.0 specification is support for Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) instrumentation based on the Common Information Model. According to Intel, WBEM will provide management applications with uniform access to the management information contained on WFM-enabled systems. Such information also is available from other WFM 2.0-compliant sources including DMI and SNMP devices, as well as component instrumentation running on operating systems, such as the performance counters leveraged by the Windows NT performance monitor.

Intel has been pushing for a more hot-swappable, dynamic PC environment, and the WFM 2.0 specification is designed to provide a friendly management environment for the new generation of pluggable network devices, such as hot-swappable PC cards, server drive arrays or universal serial bus devices. Accordingly, the WFM 2.0 specification provides provisions for a new technology called dynamic instrumentation, which Intel says assures that system component information is altered to reflect the introduction or removal of pluggable network devices to or from monitored systems.

Wake-on-LAN functionality is one of the most touted features of Intel’s WFM effort. Wake-on-LAN allows a sleeping machine to be powered on during off-hours for updating, repair, software distribution, diagnostics or complete operating system upgrading/reinstallation. Wake-on-LAN has been updated in the WFM 2.0 specification to include support for "instantly available" systems and auto return to low power features. These capabilities automatically return the system to a low power state for energy conservation.

The WFM 2.0 specification also provides support for an improved "wake-on-ring" capability that allows systems to be awakened from a sleep state by a telephone line instead of a LAN, a capability that Intel expects could be extensively leveraged for mobile systems.

According to Giga’s Enderle, the revised WFM 2.0 specification is a much-needed step in the direction of Intel’s stated goal of a more manageable PC environment. Still, he adds, "We’re still waiting for the back-end tools to really improve ease of use, but at least this is enabling client-side functionality."

WFM 2.0 also opens a potential new market for Internet service providers or connectivity providers. According to Enderle, the new remote management capabilities included in the WFM 2.0 specification could enable these vendors to sell a suite of management services to individual home users as well as IT organizations. "ISPs could provide those services to home users and to business users, and we’re seeing these things happen with folks like Sun and others looking to move into this market," he observes.

Wired For Management 2.0 Includes:

  • Support for Desktop Management Interface 2.0
  • Off-hours management
  • Wake-on-LAN
  • Wake-on-ring
  • Network administration and a pre-boot execution environment
  • Support for Web-Based Enterprise Management instrumentation