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Intel service keeps PC connected

Intel is rolling out a new systems maintenance and services package that smaller businesses can use to keep PC connections humming.

Intel is rolling out a new systems maintenance and services package that its value added resellers (VARs) can sell to often-overlooked smaller business customers.

The Intel InBusiness Remote Services Center 1.0, includes client and server software, an optional portal card, and a browser which a VAR can use to provide small business customers with preventative maintenance, troubleshooting, and systems fixes.

Users can set performance standards for PCs and servers with the software and program their system to send an email or page alert before problems arise. The software is able to monitor networked PCs over an ISDN line or telephone line via a modem.

Glen Scott, president of Abtech Computers in Portland, Oregon, which is testing the software with 35 users at three small businesses, said most smaller companies lack an in-house person to support a network.

"They [small businesses] waste a lot of time trying to solve a problem that's pretty simple before they call us," said Scott, who has about 200 customers. "This uncovers things that may be nagging problems on some of the work stations like lack of available space on a hard drive. Now, when [customers] do have a problem, I'd say 70 percent of the time we're able to resolve it quickly instead of scheduling to send somebody out there."

The Service Center software will be available to U.S. and Canadian licensed Intel VARs February 22. Special launch programs include free licenses for five of a VARs' users and free use of the service at all customer sites for the first 60 days.

Pricing per month per node, for VARs, is $9, including up to 25 nodes. Intel has not yet determined pricing for more than 25 nodes. The portal card costs $399.

Next month, Intel will provide training to use and install the new software, which can be downloaded. Intel will also provide 24x7 support to VARs.

In the future, Intel is considering adding other services to the service center including remote software installation, data backup and restoration, virus protection, system failure diagnosis before startup, and systems inventory.