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Utilizing Intel® vPro AMT Technology with Task Server – Introduction

Created: 17 Jul 2007 • Updated: 20 May 2009
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Joel Smith's picture
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This series of articles will cover the functionality available via the Task Server in the Notification Server infrastructure using Out of Band Management Solution. Part 1 focuses on what is available, how each function works, best practices, and configuration considerations. What can you get out of Out of Band Management and Task Server?

Introduction

Out of Band Management covers the entire Provisioning process for newly acquired or inactive Intel vPro capable systems. But once Provisioning is complete, what's next? Out of Band Management provides a wide array of functionality for machine management, all of which do not require anything beyond the Intel AMT/ vPro technology. Task Server utilizes the functions and allows targeting, scheduling, and sequenced executions. This part of the series focuses on Task Server.

Task Server

This section covers the basics for Task Server. The Task Server has 4 subagents; however the Out of Band Management functions do not require any of them. This makes using Tasks and Jobs for Intel vPro systems relatively simple. But first I'll cover how Task Server works.

The Task Server is automatically installed directly on the Notification Server, however if the environment warrants it child Task Servers can be deployed into the environment. In a case where multiple Task Servers exist, the Tasks and Jobs are sent to all Task Servers to service those machines within their 'Site'. A site is a group of IP Addresses representing managed systems, thus the load of the Job can be distributed, and Network utilization can be isolated to sites. This is especially useful for WAN connected environments where bandwidth may be an issue.

Tasks and Jobs

Task Server has two types of action assignments. Tasks are single event items where one execution is conducted as proscribed in the Task. Each of the available functions in Out of Band Management for Task Server is considered a single Task. These tasks conduct a specific function of Intel AMT. The following Tasks are available for Intel vPro enabled (fully provisioned for Enterprise Mode) systems:

  • Get Intel® AMT Inventory > This function captures the available AMT Inventory that is stored in the AMT chipset and stores it in the Altiris database.
  • Power Management Task > This allows all available power-management functions in AMT including the ability to restore power to a previous state.
  • Update Intel® AMT Alert Settings > This allows configuration of SNMP alerts to be sent from the destination system to the Notification Server.
  • Update Intel® AMT Credentials > This allows the AMT credentials to be reconfigured per the values provided in the task.
  • Update Intel® AMT Network Settings > This allows configuration of what Network or local access is provided for the destination systems.

Jobs are a combination of one or more Tasks. The benefit of jobs can be that additional functionality not AMT related can also be part of a job, allowing full flexibility and integration of the Intel vPro functionality. If other functionality is configured into a job, the supporting Agent must be installed on the destination systems. Jobs can be strictly limited to vPro functionality that requires no additional agents to be installed in the Altiris Agent.

To create a job, run through the following steps:

  1. In the Altiris Console, go to Manage > Jobs > Tasks and Jobs > Jobs > right-click on 'Jobs' and select 'Task/Job'.
  2. Select 'Server Job' from the left-hand pane.
  3. NOTE: Rename the job as the default is simply 'Server Job' and if not changed can create confusion when trying to locate the job later. Change the value supplied in the 'Name:' field.
  4. Under 'New' select 'Task'.
  5. Note that you now have the same list provided when you choose to create a new Task/Job. This occurs as a Job is essentially a list of available Tasks.
  6. Once a function is selected (ie: Power Management Task) the configuration of that Task appears in the right-hand pane.
  7. NOTE: Rename the Task to be descriptive. Leaving 'Power Management Task' doesn't signify if that Task within the job will power up, power down, or conduct a different power option. Change this value to something like 'Power On'.
  8. When you click OK on that task, you're returned to the Job configuration window with the Task shown between the start and stop nodes of the Job.
  9. Repeat the process for each function desired for the Job.
  10. Additional configuration can be done once the Task is created. See the below screenshot for an example:
  11. Note that in this case it's a Power Management Task that will restore the power state from the previous 'Power On' Task. If a system is already on during the Task, it will not turn it off at the end of the Task, but if it was turned off, it will turn it off at the finish.
Note: Under jobs there is a 'Client' and 'Server' Job. In actuality both can have or exclude Client and Server-based Tasks. Since the icons differ, it can be useful to properly select the type, though it is by no means necessary.

Client versus Server

All Out of Band Management are 'Server' Tasks. Client tasks require the execution to be conducted by an agent such as the Software Delivery Agent for Task Server Plug-in. Since all functions are passed down to the target systems directly from the Task Server all tasks are considered Server Tasks. Note in the above screenshot that all AMT Out of Band functions are listed under Server Tasks. This is important especially since there is another Power related Task named 'Power Control'. This one requires the Altiris Power Management Task Agent (as installed into the Altiris Agent) to function.

Task Execution

Once a Task or Job is created, it needs to be configured to run. The following steps walk through the process of setting up a Task or Job to be run.

  1. In the Altiris Console, go to Manage > Jobs > Tasks and Jobs > and open the folder where the Tasks or Jobs you've created reside.
  2. Select the Task or Job you wish to run. On the right the Task/ Job details will appear.
  3. Click on either 'Create Schedule' or 'Run Now'. Go to step 4 for details on Creating a Schedule, and go to Step 9 for the 'Run Now' option.
  4. The following screen shows the details of a Schedule dialog:
  5. Provide a Name for the schedule for identification purposes.
  6. Choose the appropriate Schedule type under 'Schedule time:'. Typically 'Custom Schedule' should be selected for this. The schedule dialog provides the usual Scheduling dialog available in the Notification Server infrastructure.
  7. Normally if the vPro systems are provisioned or Out of Band Management has already been configured to provide the correct credentials, the 'Connection credential settings:' do not need to be specified.
  8. Go to step 11 for how to use the 'Resources:' dialog.
  9. In the 'Run Job' dialog fill in the Run Name (for tracking purposes only).
  10. Normally if the vPro systems are provisioned or Out of Band Management has already been configured to provide the correct credentials, the 'Connection credential settings:' do not need to be specified.
  11. Click the link under 'Resources:' labeled: 'Select computers'.
  12. The following dialog appears:
  13. In the far left pane you can select a Collection and have the members of that collection populate in the center pane. Click on those computers to be added to the far right-pane. This right-pane signifies which computers the Task will run on (whether via the schedule or immediately).
  14. If you double-click on a collection that collection will appear in the right-pane and all systems therein will receive the Task/Job.

Task Results

Use the following method to track and review the results of the Task or Job.

  1. Once a Task/ Job has or is running, the lower-pane of the right-pane on a job will show the status of the execution.
  2. If you double-click on a line, a more specific dialog appears showing each of the Tasks within the job (if it's a job), or the Task details if not.
  3. If you double-click on a specific Task, another dialog appears showing each target machine's status for that Task.
  4. NOTE: If you are reviewing a Task or Job that is in progress, each screen as a 'Refresh' button to use to update the current status view. It will NOT update automatically.

Conclusion

We've covered the basic design and use of Task Server in this part of the series. The examples contained do center on the Out of Band Management vPro functionality. Subsequent parts in the series will include PET Alerts, Power Management examples, and additional details on how each function works, and what can be accomplished with them. A further part will focus on integrating the vPro functionality with other functions available in Task Server. This will include examples and configuration tips so the most can be gained through Task Server.

Utilizing Intel® vPro AMT Technology with Task Server - Index of Articles

Utilizing Intel® vPro AMT Technology with Task Server – Part 1: Power Management