iPad apps, once thought to be essentially diversions, are emerging as real tools for IT management. Ken Hess discusses the options.
Looking up the latest sports scores, having a round of Foosball HD, or listening to your favorite NPR program is not the best business use case for your iPad. However, with a few taps, you can convert it from a toy to an ultra-mobile support tablet suitable for real data center work. Even Gartner agrees, noting in a recent blog post, "The iPad is delivering real value at personal, professional, organizational and executive levels, and is a leading indicator of future end-user device approaches."
That's right, for a few dollars from the App Store, your iPad can pay for itself by entering the hallowed security locks at your data center. A few swipes and taps bring you apps that connect to UNIX, Linux, Windows and Macs. Those apps, plus the trusty Safari web browser, provide you with everything you need to fully support a contemporary environment.
The iPad, now available from retail chain stores from $499 to $829, is a lightweight (1.5lb), 9.7-inch screen, fully capable computer. The only caveat is that you'll need a DHCP Server and Wi-Fi or 3G access within your data center to make it work, since the iPad is a 100-percent untethered device.
There are several SSH clients from which to choose, but the most versatile among them is iSSH by Zingersoft. At $9.99, it isn't the least expensive SSH client, but the inclusion of an SSH-tunneled VNC client, a telnet client and X server make it worth the price. When you connect to a remote host, your iPad's IP address automatically receives the X11 forwarding, so there's nothing for you to do except launch your favorite X application. Although you don't have to use X, the hosts that you connect to must have the line
X11Forwarding yes enabled in your remote system's
This application's best feature is that when you're connected simultaneously to multiple hosts, you can switch between them by swiping your finger to the next terminal window. The X server is also very handy.
Mochasoft develops some of the finest iPad remote connectivity applications available today, including RDP, VNC (next), TN5250 and TN3270. RDP is the Remote Desktop Protocol used to connect to Windows workstations and servers as a remote terminal, not remote control. The Lite version of Mochasoft's RDP is free and includes almost every feature of the commercial version for $5.99. The paid version offers more features related to mouse movement, extra keyboards and more connection profiles.
Although the documentation states you can connect only to workstation versions of Microsoft Windows, you can connect to the Server versions as well.
The most compelling feature of this RDP client is that there is a full screen mode that perfectly fits your iPad so you don't have to scroll the screen to locate applications or menus.
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