Virtual computing for all

Join the iPad Movement.

The technology is here. The time is now. Virtual computing for all. Join Dilbert and the 3,900 other people who want to run all their existing Windows business apps, desktops and data on their iPad. Buying an iPad doesn’t mean you have to give up all the powerful Windows apps and data you use every day at work. For example, Citrix can help you and your IT department make it possible. Everyone loves GotoMyPC, GoToMeeting, or GoToWebinar. You can use these on an iPad for presentations and remote access. And now an iPad wireless HD mirroring hack makes for better presentations. The iPad also supports excellent file-sharing/cloud apps like Dropbox. I use Dropbox myself for quick, reliable, and real-time file sharing with clients.

The iPad has exploded onto the scene. Who could have imagined that a tablet would capture the imagination of employees and IT alike? But it did, and it’s kicked off an arms race for smart mobile devices. Every day, a new tablet appears: Cisco Cius, Google Chrome OS tablet, Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy Tab, RIM PlayBook, HP “PalmPad,” the list goes on. These post-PC devices will find a place in your company, but where? I see them replacing conference kiosks and sign-up sheets. They make for excellent presentation tools (more on that later). And they are perfect devices for on-the-go employees who need to share information and collaborate while away from the office. Yes, laptops can do all these. But tablets are simply more mobile. Their tactile nature makes them easier to whip out and just get the job done.

Ars Technica recently reported on a new wireless HDMI hack for the iPad that shows immense potential in the education and training fields. Teachers and corporate presenters alike begged Apple for video mirroring capabilities for the iPad, and the company delivered the feature in the iPad 2. Apple’s solution still leaves users tied to a cord, however, so two employees at networking service provider Straight Up Technologies developed a simple hack to give their client wireless HDMI output and freedom of movement while sharing the iPad’s screen.

The iPad 2 can mirror its display in 1080p HDMI video over the new Digital AV Adapter, which plugs into a Dock connector and has an HDMI port on the other side. For some presenters, being chained to a cable isn’t much of an issue, but teachers in particular have told Ars that one important advantage of using iPads in the classroom over laptops is the ability to walk around the classroom and interact more directly with all the students in the room.

Other applications, such as the virtual kiosk I mentioned earlier, are clearly supported in the tech community by innovators like MailChimp. Their Chimpadeedoo app collects email addresses and stores them locally on your iPad–even when you’re not online. And then, the next time you connect, Chimpadeedoo automatically pushes the addresses to your MailChimp list. If you’re using any other ESP, stop. Seriously. MailChimp is the best, and this isn’t just my monkey fetish talking.

A survey conducted by Zogby International for Sybase found that work ranked just ahead of playing games and watching videos as reasons for buying the iPad. “Study findings reveal that consumers are increasingly demanding mobile devices that blend consumer and enterprise functionality, exposing an unexpected emphasis on the iPad’s suitability for work-related activities, and demonstrating the iPad’s potential value to information workers,” Sybase said in a news release.

Hell, even restaurants are getting in on the action according to USA Today. When the new chain, Stacked: Food Well Built, opens its first of three Southern California units in Ma—this one in Torrance—sitting atop each of the fast-casual chain’s 60 tables will be an iPad that folks will use to design and order their meals.

The iPad and iPhone are also apparently a hot commodity in the health care industry. Doctors and nurses are using the electronic gadgets for the coolest kind of medical technology. Examples include: a plastic surgeon who uses the iPad to demonstrate to patients what they might look like after reconstructive surgery; an emergency room doctor showing patients radiographs of their injuries; and Loyola University Medical Center which has given iPads to all of its orthopedic residents as part of a pilot program.

Still, I will admit to drawbacks.

Tablets will bring many new benefits, but they also bring new problems that IT must deal with. The security of post-PC devices is probably not the worst of your concerns, however. It will be controlled chaos, but the modern architectures of these devices reduce the “attack surface” for bad guys. Theft or loss is probably your biggest challenge. And, of course, you need to partner with your colleagues in other IT roles to solve issues like:

  • Educating employees on where tablets work and where they don’t. No, Microsoft Office won’t work on tablets today
  • Prioritizing applications. Start with basic applications that every employee needs — email, collaboration, productivity, and communications — and then layer on dedicated applications depending on the scenario.
  • Dealing with the platform proliferation that threatens to clog the market with choices. iOS, Android, QNX, Windows Phone, WebOS, Symbian, Chrome OS, oh my!
  • Overhauling the support and reimbursement model for employee-provisioned devices.
  • Amping up the device management and security models. Tablets use the same security models as smartphones.

What every iPad user needs to know

  • Prepare yourself to talk to IT
  • Discover how organizations are putting the iPad to work at work
  • Collaborate with co-workers on your iPad

What every IT manager needs to know

  • Use this IT cheat sheet for Citrix on iPad work place integration
  • Watch this four part series on enabling the iPad for business
  • Learn how the BYO model fits into your workplace with this solution brief

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Artist, satirist, and occasional blogger, Andrew has been drawing since he could hold a crayon. He started with squiggles, but they were darned good squiggles if he says so himself. And he will, just ask.
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Andrew Paulson on Twitter: Ego sum nemo. Baker, geek, illustrator, web developer, and satirist.

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