Recognizing small businesses have many of the same IT needs as the enterprise but lack the same resources, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) has added management capabilities to its Core processor family that include security and productivity features aimed at the SMB space and the VARs that serve it.

The Intel Small Business Advantage platform is designed to handle many of the IT tasks small-business owners need but simply don’t have the time or expertise to do, such as optimizing the system to run at peak performance, backing up data and automatically updating software and virus protection.

“The small-business segment is the largest commercial segment and the fastest-growing and most relevant,” said Dan Russell, director of Business Client Solutions Marketing at Intel. “In emerging markets in particular, that’s where the growth is highest. We needed to come out with something that works for them.”

In developing the platform, Intel focused on two things small-business owners said they need, Russell said: productivity and security. Yet, the IT person in any small business is, by default, the person who is the most technology-savvy.

MSPs may recognize many of the features of Small Business Advantage as similar to those in vPro, technology that offers security and manageability of multiple PCs running Intel Core processors from a single management console. The difference, however, is the PCs are managed individually with Small Business Advantage -- the solution is aimed at businesses of one to 19 people, those environments where a centrally managed solution may not make sense.

One of the features of Small Business Advantage is Software Monitor, which tracks security software and issues alerts if the software stops running. Another feature, PC Health Center, allows a PC to power up at a prescheduled time, even if it was turned off, to automatically perform maintenance and backup.

The third feature, USB Blocker, allows PCs to be configured to block access to certain USB devices such as flash drives.

All of the features are managed from a customization wizard, which includes a customizable user interface so a VAR can add its own logo and contact information. The customization wizard also enables VARs and users to add maintenance tasks to the PC Health Center, add in other software to Software Monitor, and add other applications such as anti-virus or off-site backup to the system.

“Our goal was to take a number of underlying technologies of vPro and move them downstream to small business,” Russell said. “The value prop has to meet their expectations and has to be simple out of the box. We believe Small Business Advantage accomplishes that.”

Intel Small Business Advantage is available now on Core i3, Core i5, Core i5 vPro, Core i7 and Core i7 vPro processors with Intel 2012 business chipsets.