Apple

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...

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