iPad

Desktop Connect iPad app enables secure remote Windows server administration

Consultant Erik Eckel swears by the iPad Desktop Connect app that allows him to securely administer Windows servers remotely. He makes his case for the iPad as an admin tool -- do you agree?

Many Windows administrators, especially those earning their stripes during the Apple/Microsoft cold war of the 90s, when Apple's enterprise technology was inferior, discredit the iPad as a toy. I've found the iPad to be just the opposite.

Sure, you can load games, movies, music and other consumer-based applications on the iPad. But the iPad is also an incredibly powerful device capable of replacing the tried-and-true laptop most self-respecting engineers carry. I know; my iPad has replaced the laptop I carried every day for years.

Powerful and secure

A vast array of iPad apps make it easier than ever to stay in touch with the office, remotely administer Windows servers, and troubleshoot and repair issues. Best of all, I no longer need to carry a heavier laptop, wait for the system to boot or scramble for an electrical outlet after several hectic hours. The iPad is light and secure and its battery life makes a mockery of laptops' longevity. Add-in the power Desktop Connect provides, and it's a potent combination for quickly, securely, and remotely responding to Windows server issues.

Antacea's Desktop Connect application costs $11.99. With just a few clicks, and within literally seconds, it enables connecting to and administering Windows servers that support Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) technology. The application also supports VNC. Windows Server 2003 (Small Business flavors included) and Windows Server 2008 (Small Business flavors, again, included) all work well with the application, as do most current Microsoft client OSs (including Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business, Enterprise and Ultimate and Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate).

128-bit encryption is used for all passwords, and Desktop Connect access can be further restricted by requiring a passcode, if so desired. Users wishing to leverage the apps' VNC capacity can also encrypt session data using SSH tunneling (Microsoft's RDP implementation uses 128-bit encryption).

Easy to use

Desktop Connect is easy to use. Enterprise administrators need only follow these steps to set up a remote connection to an existing Remote Desktop Connection-equipped system:

  1. Open Desktop Connect.
  2. Select the Add Computer icon.
  3. Choose RDP or VNC (we'll assume RDP for this example).
  4. Provide a friendly name for the system and enter the system's IP address. If an alternative port other than 3389 is being used by the remote system, Desktop Connect users can specify that port when entering the hostname address.
  5. Tap Save.
  6. Tap the server from the Computers list.
  7. Access the system to perform needed troubleshooting and repair.

Users control the cursor by moving a finger around the iPad's display. Tapping the display indicates a click. Tapping the keyboard icon calls the keyboard overlay. It couldn't be much easier, really.

Secure remote Windows connectivity made easy

As long as enterprise administrators have the need to remotely connect to Windows servers, restart services, review logs, create/disable users, reset passwords and perform other common and critical tasks, the iPad will offer one of the simplest, secure methods for performing those actions. Enterprise administrators looking to cease carrying a heavier laptop will enjoy security benefits, as well. Unlike Windows laptops, which frequently store sensitive data locally (including My Documents, Desktop items and other automatically cached or profiled information), the iPad is more secure. None of that data is stored locally when using an iPad, making it a more secure option for remote administration.

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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

11 comments
Gis Bun
Gis Bun

OK, now there may actually be 2 uses for an iPad. Remote connection to a Windows server and to see multimedia [pictures, video]. Now why on earth would a system administrator have an iPad? Most likely s/he will be having a normal size laptop or a desktop where they can do more than just remote desktop - let alone on a tiny screen.

NexS
NexS

And I'll think about it.

PCguy24
PCguy24

okay so let me get this straight you have been using the ipad for years although it only came out about a few months ago. i feel that your statement is improbable and just a little overestimated and unfortunately without a USB the ipad will be nothing but a giant ipod touch.

david.foye
david.foye

Unless I missed something this article was entirely about accessing servers from behind the firewall. What about VPN access? I know sonicwall doesn't provide a means for iPods to connect, what about IPads?

john
john

Given my druthers, as an IT admin, when I am on the road (vacations etc), I like to use a Mac for "my stuff". Since our users work RDC, it would work for them, smaller, lighter. For me, when I need to log in to handle an issue, it is more than suficient in it's abilities, it much lighter, has much better viewing area than a Netbook. The only issue for me, I have not found a decent MOUSE function.

dan
dan

First of all, he said that the ipad replaced his laptop which he carried for years. Laptop not the ipad. But I'm with you on USB and also ethernet. This thing is a toy and Apple is probably the worst when it comes to isolating it's users from being compatible with the rest of technology. Just my two cents ...

See2010
See2010

The iPad has IPSec, pptp, and l2tp support in the network settings.

MacNewton
MacNewton

Forget the past, have an open mind to new ideas. What most people forget is this. The iPad has a 30pin connector. From that you can plug in a usb cable adapter and much more. Take a second look at you statement. A little silly isn't it! The only toy we have here is that little yellow plastic ducky you take with you to your bath. And that is my 2 cents.

chutikorn
chutikorn

But the majority of the businesses are probably using firewall/VPN gateway solution that require proprietary client to connect. I think Cisco has a client for iPhone, but what about OpenVPN and others?

john
john

My Pres. is interested in the iPad, and in fact one employee loaned us his to test (I am a Mac user/lover, well, not like THAT, but...) I tried a few different programs to connect to our Win7 syste,s with the one from Wyse working very well. The problem I have is a click/drag. For example, when using Outlook, to resize the viewing pane size etc. Anyone have experience?

ricoshay
ricoshay

works fine with the settings available in authentication settings: user auth; chap, RSA SecureID, etc and machine auth; shared secret.