In this post, I will introduce some of the tools that I use on my iPad for system administration tasks. I will discuss a few remote access apps, monitoring apps, and basic utilities.
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I am unashamedly an iOS (as opposed to Android) guy. I like its simplicity, and I feel that, once you start buying apps for one platform, if you are going to expand your number of devices you might as well go ahead and keep buying for what you’ve got so you don't have to rebuy apps. I'm not saying that it is the be-all and end-all of the tablet and smartphone world, but it does work better for me.

I have to say that it is nice to have something that weighs one pound versus five or six, at a minimum, for the basics. Surprisingly, I've found that, of all the daily administrative tasks I perform as a Windows/VMware/Network/Telephony admin, I am able to perform about 90 percent of those tasks with my Apple iPad. In this article, I'm going to share a list of the apps that I use to make this management possible, in the hope that you'll in turn share those that make your day easier.

Remote access ^

Remoter

Remoter

The starting point for any *Admin solution is remote access capability. There are many individual solutions for SSH, RDP, and the like. Since I have long been a fan of all-in-one solutions for the desktop, such as VisionApp RDP and, more recently, Devolutions' Remote Desktop Manager, I was looking for something similar for my mobile needs. I like Remoter because it supports RDP, VNC, SSH, and Telnet, and it has a good centralized password manager and a clean interface. For best support for RDP, I recommend using Full Screen mode with the trackpad enabled—very slick.

AD Assist

AD Assist

Specifically for the Windows Admins in the crowd, I use a pair of apps: ADAssist and PowerShell Mobile Administrator. ADAssist is just that; it allows you to manage the high points of your AD infrastructure. You aren't going to be doing any of the advanced tasks with this, but it’s pretty handy for changing passwords, unlocking accounts, and moving objects around between existing OUs. My only knocks with it are that there is no tree view that I can find (you have to search instead), and the price for the unlimited version is a steep $9.99 when compared to the rest of the app world.

PowerShell Mobile Administrator is a little bit more raw in its development, but at a price of free that’s not a deal breaker. This app allows you to tap into the PS Remote Console of your WinRM-enabled boxes and perform any task you normally would via PS. Like I said, it’s a little rough and could do with some auto-completion capability and some refinements to the UI. If this is a deal breaker for you, you might want to consider Sapien's iPowerShell Pro.

vSphere Client

vSphere Client

Finally, for my VMware folks, I previously wrote an article outlining the installation of the vCenter Mobile Assistant virtual appliance. One of the rationales for doing so is so you can use the free iPad-specific vSphere Client to allow for the basic management of your virtualized infrastructure. This app allows you start, stop, migrate, and monitor your VMs and hosts. Pretty slick and efficient for what it is, although I believe it would benefit greatly from the addition of remote console capability. Again, I won't complain about a free product.

Basic utilities ^

Textastic

Textastic

The two utilities I find that I use more than any other on my iPad are Ookla's SpeedTest and Textastic. SpeedTest is a mobile GUI for the speedtest.net website and is great for troubleshooting bandwidth issues. Textastic is exactly that—a nice text client for iOS. This one has all kinds of remote connectivity to access remote files, as well as auto-completion capabilities for most of the popular web-based and scripting languages. I find it works great for offline configuration file editing so you can copy into a SSH window.

Monitoring apps ^

If you start looking around in the app store, you'll pretty quickly find that most of your monitoring solutions all offer something in the iOS space. We use a combination of OpenNMS and PRTG internally to keep the network running smoothly; both offer mobile app clients. I could list for days here but, really, go look around for yourself.

Conclusion ^

In the end, I’ve come to really like using my iOS devices for basic network and systems management. While the reality is that you can’t expect to be able to architect an entire system from the platform, it works just fine for the day-to-day stuff and is much easier to carry around.

Do you know of other system administration apps for iOS?

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2 Comments
  1. Christopher Owens 8 years ago

    There are lots of ping tools out there that can be handy in a pinch.

    One of my goto apps is Get Console. You do have to buy a cable that isn't exactly cheap, but has been great for me for accessing consoles on Cisco and other devices, especially since I have yet to find a serial-USB adapter that reliably works on my laptop...

    For the LogMeIn users the Ignition app is wonderful.

    Office 365 Admin for those of us that administer 365. It isn't much, just shows the status of the 365 services, but it did help me once when the CEO was having trouble and I was in his office and pulled it up and was able to show him his exact error was on Microsoft's side and they were working on it.

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  2. Author
    Jim Jones 8 years ago

    That AirConsole look pretty freaking awesome. I typically have good experiences with my USB-Serial adapter, but not having to deal with being in the same room would be nice. I've ruined laptops before trying to balance a laptop while hooked up to a top of rack device.

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