Apple's iPad is a revolutionary device. Regardless of whether you prefer or dislike Apple technologies and regardless of whether you believe they belong within enterprise environments, they're coming. Apple sold more than a half million units in the very first week they became available. Enterprise IT administrators would be smart to consider loading/supporting the following iPad applications to help themselves and users make the most of the new computers.
1. MobileIron Sentry
Many ill-informed iPad detractors criticize the new device, stating iPads place enterprise security at risk. That's simply incorrect. iPads pose no more of a security risk than do smartphones. Using the free MobileIron Sentry iPad app, enterprise IT departments can track iPhones and iPads, view device inventory, block offending or compromised devices, and remotely wipe stolen, lost or compromised units. The application also enables remotely suspending email access for active staff, just-terminated employees, and others.
Paired with the MobileIron Virtual Smartphone Platform, enterprise IT departments can leverage MobileIron Sentry to better manage and secure, not only iPad deployments, but numerous other Smartphone platforms. Among the technologies supported are BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian, with Android support forthcoming.
2. Desktop Connect
Enterprise users and administrators needing to remotely connect to other systems can do so using Desktop Connect, an $11.99 application from Antecea Inc. Using 128-bit encryption, Desktop Connect enables iPad users to remotely access and administer Windows XP Professional; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista Business, Enterprise and Ultimate; Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate; and Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard systems.
Desktop Connect can also be used to connect to secondary systems to view Adobe Flash video, remotely control media players and presentations, access additional files and listen to audio files. The application can also be used to take remote control of a system in order to provide technical support or remote repairs.
3. Apple's iWork Suite
Apple's IWork suite includes the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet program, and Keynote presentation application. At $9.99 each, these Multi-Touch-optimized applications are indispensable when needing to create, edit, or share professional documents — spreadsheets and presentations using the iPad. The iWork suite also enables iPad users to work with common Microsoft Office file formats, including .docx, .xlsx and .pptx files, while on the go.
4. PrintCentral for iPad
PrintCentral for iPad is a $9.99 iPad application. The software, sold by EuroSmartz Ltd., enables iPad users to print email messages, documents, spreadsheets, Web pages, photographs, and other files. Files can also be transferred for printing using iTunes synchronization using a cable, but many users will prefer to print directly to printers connected to their Macs or PCs, which PrintCentral for iPad enables.
Travelers will find additional functionality, in that Print Central enables users to print using thumb drives or using an integrated full-featured email client. The application also permits mounting iPads as a network disk from a Mac or PC, moving and printing files using iDisk and WebDAV technology and even copying files using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technologies.
Some of the iPad's biggest strengths, besides its ease of use, are its portability and ability to comprehend intuitive finger movements. If enterprise users are to truly leverage the device's full capabilities, a simple application is needed that helps organize thoughts, enable freehand drawing, and essentially replace back-of-the-envelope or napkin drawings.
The Omni Group's OmniGraffle application, a $49.99 program, is an approachable, easy-to-use app users can employ to create freehand drawings, draft diagrams, create tables, record processes, create Web site wireframes, draft page layouts, and more. With numerous included stencils and templates, OmniGraffle quickly makes an enterprise users' iPad an incredibly powerful and mobile tool that can be used to fuel brainstorming sessions, power what-if conversations, and capture and record critically important notes, all while leveraging the iPad's Multi-Touch technology.
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 of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.