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Mobile apps: The IT pro's new power tools

Robert L. Scheier | March 13, 2012
Heavy-duty mobile IT apps for the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices have many IT departments on the move.

Yet the iPhone still has its proponents. Michael Kipp, principal engineer for the site operations group at Vocus, a SaaS vendor, says he is "quite satisfied ... [that] I can do almost anything I can do from my desktop" from the iPhone using remote desktop. "The screen is a little small, but it never hindered me," although he did admit that "an iPad is all the better."

Although the BlackBerry remains a favorite of certain corporate IT groups because of its security and email capabilities, it gets less attention from developers and many IT pros because of its relatively small screen size and, until recently, lack of touchscreen support. "They don't keep up to date with the applications" as much as the iOS, Android, or "even Microsoft with Windows Mobile" platforms, says Gettel's Bement. "I wouldn't want one if someone handed it to me."

However, the BlackBerry does boast applications for remote desktop access, server monitoring and management, and remote access to SSH servers, among many other functions.

Heavy-duty mobile apps for IT pros Remote access is one of the hottest mobile application markets for IT -- little wonder, given what can be done with quick access to a management console or in troubleshooting a user's device.

Cloud services provider CenterBeam uses the native iOS version of Bomgar on the iPad because "it's more secure than other platforms," says Shahin Pirooz, CenterBeam's CTO. His staff also relies on Citrix Receiver to run management applications in Windows 7 on the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Ericom Software's free AccessToGo for iOS and Android is another powerful tool for providing access to Windows applications, physical and virtual desktops, and Windows terminal servers.

Mobile virtualization management is another hotbed, with the various Nagios mobile apps for iOS and Android receiving frequent mentions among IT pros. Many cloud services providers offer their own mobile management apps. The Decaf EC2 Client for Android and iPhone provides updates "about trends and variations in average CPU performance, total disk reads and writes, and total incoming/outgoing network traffic" for Amazon EC2 instances, according to 9apps, the team behind Decaf.

The VMware vSphere Client for iPad allows administrators to monitor the performance of vSphere hosts and virtual machines; to start, stop, and suspend VMs; and to reboot them or put them into maintenance mode. VM Manager is among the many virtualization management options on Android.

Jason John Schwarz, CTO of pest control services provider MSC, says his team uses iVMControl on iPhones and iPads. They have found the app "far better than the native VMware Web interface, a quick way to jump in and troubleshoot our environment."


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