Intel’s NUC in Corporate IT: A Sysadmin’s Dream?
Can the Intel Next Unit of Computing replace the unwieldy, biege and under performing desktop at your workplace?
True story – the boffins at the IT Department in most organizations, especially the non-technology ones, are usually viewed by management types as a cost center rather than a value-added function, despite being as essential as the other employees to the operations backbone of the company.
The myraid of users that they service (bosses and minions) demand a fast and productive workstation so that they can do their work uninterrupted, preferably not occupying too much desk space (already cluttered by stacks of incessant paperwork, photographs and sweet wrappers) or bottom leg room (restless leg syndrome). Meanwhile, the overworked sysadmin wants an elegant solution that can easily deployed, serviced and be remotely managed to minimize as much downtime as possible. The pointy-haired, slaver driving boss doesn't care if the system stops responding because he unknowingly kicked the mechanical hard drive into oblivion, or the clueless intern (who happens to be the boss's daughter) accidentally introduces a virus onto the network because she plugged her own unauthorized thumbdrive in to view her Justin Beiber pictures.
Are these situations familar to you?
Enter the Intel Next Unit of Computing…
Already from the picture below, one can see the obvious size and form factor benefits of the NUC relative to the traditional workstation box. The mobile i3 dual-core processor (four threads with HT) should be able to handle most office productivity applications such as Microsoft Excel and CRM packages with ease, so you're not sacrificing any compute performance with the chassis downsize. At less than 20W of power consumed when in operation, the NUC is also a significantly greener solution than the standard PC, which should please the beancounters and eco-mentalists.
The bundled VESA bracket allows the NUC to be mounted behind monitors to save space and consolidate wiring.
Of the two models (the other being the Thunderbolt equipped D33217CK), the D33217GKE has the more viable Gigabit Ethernet option for the corporate user to access the office network, and the administrator to mass deploy system images/updates in a jiffy. The provision of a Kensington Lock hole also prevent the NUC from being spirited away by vengeful office colleagues or rival spies.
Sysadmins and their system integrators will appreciate the fact that the NUC uses fairly common off the shelf components like DDR3 SODIMMs (up to 16GB from two 8GB sticks) and mSATA/PCIe expansion, so they can stockpile parts somewhere in a drawer for a quick change. The use of SSDs for storage, other than obvious speed and productivity benefits, also means no more heart attacks from data loss due to a dodgy mechanical drive failure, which is usually the number one cause of downtime in most corporate environments.
The other common causes are exploding power supplies and dust clogged CPU fans causing performance throttling, both of which will not manifest in this setup.
To meet security and privacy regulatory compliance, the NUC can be remotely disabled (data is encrypted) if it becomes misplaced or exceeds the set number of login tries.
Some other useful security features for IT Administrators include
- UEFI Secure Boot to prevent malicious boot-time routines from being loaded (from malware)
- VT-x support for Hardware Virtualization of sandboxed software
- Password for UEFI BIOS
- Wake on Lan for software updates