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VMware iPad apps: Taking virtualization to go

With the official VMware iPad apps, you can run virtual desktops and manage vSphere environments. Other iPad apps are also useful for VMware admins.

The official VMware iPad apps are designed for the mobile workforce -- both admins and end users.

With the VMware vSphere Client for iPad, administrators can monitor and manage their hosts and virtual machines (VM) without being in the office. And the VMware View for iPad app lets users access their Windows desktops and applications on the iPad. VMware has also released iPad apps for SlideRocket and Socialcast, two of its hosted collaboration applications.

As more consumers start using their personal devices for business tasks, and as more employees expect to be able to work at home and on the road, demand for programs such as these VMware iPad apps will continue to grow. But these iPad apps aren’t perfect. For starters, both require an Internet connection, which isn’t always reliable in airports, at conferences or in other busy locations. In addition, the vSphere Client for iPad doesn’t offer all of the advanced capabilities that the native vSphere Client does.

The following resources explain how the official VMware iPad apps work and how to use them. The information in this guide will help VMware admins determine whether these iPad apps would be a good fit in their organizations.

VMware vSphere Client for iPad  | VMware View for iPad

 VMware vSphere Client for iPad

VMware unveiled its vSphere iPad app at VMworld Europe 2010, but the free download didn’t make it to the App Store until March 2011. (The first of the two VMware iPad apps, the View client, came out earlier that month.)The vSphere Client for iPad is a stripped-down, custom-built version of the vSphere Client, designed to handle admins’ most common management and monitoring tasks.

VSphere Client for iPad: VMware management on the go
The vSphere Client for iPad performs about 50% of the most common vSphere management tasks, and in the future that figure is expected to reach 80%. For now, the app can monitor the performance of VMs and hosts, manage VM power states and snapshots and troubleshoot basic networking problems. But the app can’t yet perform a vMotion, and there are some security issues to consider.

VMware management with vSphere Client for iPad
Managing a vSphere infrastructure from a touch screen may feel awkward at first. Luckily, VMware management with the vSphere Client for iPad is easy and intuitive. But its functionality is limited, so you shouldn’t rely on this iPad app as a replacement for the desktop version of the vSphere Client.  

VMware vSphere Client for iPad and vCMA
The vSphere Client for iPad and vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) connect to VMware vCenter, which gives app users visibility into their vSphere infrastructures. To make this connection, admins must download the vCMA virtual appliance and have version 4 or above of vSphere and vCenter.

Installing vCMA for remote vSphere management
Installing vCMA is a prerequisite for running the vSphere Client for iPad. To get this VMware iPad app up and running, download and install the vCMA virtual appliance from the VMware Labs website. It’s available as either an Open Virtualization Format (OVF) file or as a ZIP file, but the OVF file is easier because admins can import it directly into vCenter Server.

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 VMware View for iPad

The first of the official VMware iPad apps, VMware View for iPad, hit Apple’s App Store in early March. The VMware View iPad client delivers Windows virtual desktops to the iPad using the PC-over-IP protocol, and it is designed to work on either 3G or WiFi networks. It also features an on-screen track pad for the traditional laptop feel, and it supports external keyboards and monitors as well.

Virtual desktop clients for iPad here before enterprise demand
VMware View for iPad isn’t the only solution for users who want Windows on their iPads. Citrix Receiver and other iPad apps offer similar functionality. Despite all these products -- and their coolness factor -- analysts and consultants say there isn’t much enterprise demand for virtual desktop clients for iPads. Many organizations are concerned about the bandwidth needed to support these devices, and others worry about security. But in some verticals, such as health care, or in companies with mobile sales forces, these iPad apps are gaining a following.

VMware’s iPad app: A lesson in contradiction?
VMware CEO Paul Maritz likes to say that the traditional operating system -- by which he means Windows -- is on its way out. But the whole point of the VMware View for iPad app is to make Windows available on the iPad, thus extending the operating system’s life. It’s enough to make you wonder if VMware’s iPad app is contradicting the company’s vision.

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