The HP ProtectTools program is the company's initiative to popularize the use of smart cards and other security/management technology with corporate customers, according to Achim Kuttler, product marketing manager for commercial desktops at HP.
These technologies already exist in the marketplace, but customers have yet to adopt them in large numbers, he said. Only around 10 percent of HP customers, for example, have adopted HP's TopTools desktop management system, which allows IT managers to shut down, update, or monitor PC use from a central location.
ProtectTools essentially exists to take the pain out of the adoption process. "We need to provide the resources and means to create a managed environment," he said. "ProtectTools is not a product. It is more of an umbrella."
With a smart card, a PC becomes virtually impenetrable to outside attack. While more secure than standard password-based access systems, smart card security systems have not sold in huge numbers. HP itself used to offer a Brio system with a smart card reader built in, but discontinued it, said Kuttler.
HP is also in the process of ramping up a consulting offering that will ease the process of adopting its TopTools system, said sources. Kuttler said that HP has been working with a limited number of partners to expand the use of TopTools in the U.S. and that it's likely the program will expand.
Compaq is said to be working on a similar consulting program for its own manageability software, said sources.
In a related announcement, HP also boosted the capabilities of its high-end corporate desktops. Vectra VLs containing Pentium II processors running at 350 MHz and faster will now be available with the Matrox Millennium G200 graphics processor and DVD drives. Earlier versions contained the G100 processor and CD-ROM drives.