RealTime IT News

A New 'Hyper' Twist in Remote PC Management

Desktop and mobile PCs are slated to be outfitted later this year with a new kind of remote PC support that's always available.

Built on Phoenix Techologies' HyperSpace platform, the PC management solution is designed to let IT and tech support personnel address problems even while the PC is operating and users are running productivity apps.

"You can access, tune and maintain the machine remotely while it's being used," Phoenix CEO Woody Hobbs told InternetNews.com. "This is like full remote management as if the tech is looking over your shoulder."

Phoenix, a longtime provider of firmware for PC makers, is teaming up with SupportSoft to provide the remote support solution which will be delivered as a Software as a Service .

Phoenix said its HyperSpace platform hosts instant-on applications before, during and after Windows boots up and shuts down. HyperSpace runs independent of Windows or other operating system, so it's available to remote tech support even if Windows crashes.

HyperSpace is driven by "HyperCore," Phoenix's virtualization platform that lets an independent, Linux-based operating system run alongside Windows. Hobbs said users should not expect any noticeable performance hit while running HyperSpace.

Brian Gammage, a research fellow in client computing at Gartner, said developments like HyperSpace are the beginning of a new wave of software appliances.

"By adopting an appliance approach, individual functions, such as firewalls, asset management, TV recorders or media players, will be delivered as separate modules that run alongside, rather than on top of, the standard PC OS," said Gammage in a statement. "Software appliances will become a major PC development platform, rivaling OS integration as a major focus of PC industry R&D efforts for targeted security and management functions."

Hobbs positioned HyperSpace as a technology that will help PC makers, particularly mobile computing vendors, distinguish their products and give them a valued-added revenue stream. The remote service capabilities might be priced on a per service basis or monthly or annual subscription.

"We might even get to the point it's more like the cell phone, where the cost of the PC is negligible, but you pay for the service contract," he said, adding he also expects interest from enterprise customers in the service.

"Absolutely in the mobile area," he said. "That's where you have the worst problems and it always seems to be when you're nowhere near IT for support."

Roger Kay, analyst with Endpoint Technologies, has seen demos of HyperSpace and thinks Phoenix is on to something.

"My experience with Vista has been that the security is cumbersome," Kay told InternetNews.com. "Phoenix has taken a fresh look at things and brought in a SaaS approach and new technology that I think could make support a lot easier."