Late month, in my coverage of Novell's cloud management, I asked the question "Should you manage your datacenter on your iPhone?" This got me a lot of the expected comments about using an iPhone for anything serious, both in the talkbacks and in email. But those negative respondents missed a major point; IT has been using remote management tools for years, so why shouldn't they use the most available tools possible?
Like many IT staffers, I've used a variety of remote management and remote access tools over the years, even in my current small consulting practice, my own servers run headless, racked in the cool confines of my building's basement, where I use RDP to control them. In the past I've used all sorts of server management tools so that I didn't physically have to go to my servers to perform tasks that didn't absolutely require physical access, ranging from simple remote management apps to apps that remotely controlled the power to my servers and allowed me to do hard reboots if I wasn't even in the same building.
I've actually tried to use my iPhone as a control device for my servers using VNC, but frankly, the screen on the phone is simply too small for me to use it practically. On an iPad, it would work much better, but when I broached the idea to a few of my active datacenter friends, they were not fans of carrying around an iPad all day, telling me that a lightweight notebook gave them far more capability in getting their jobs done, allowing them to carry software tools that needed to be installed on a PC.
When I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Tab for my fiancée two weeks ago, I decided to revisit the idea of a mobile remote device. Even though the Tab's screen resolution of 1024 x 600 seems little different form the 960x640 of my iPhone, the larger physical screen size of the 7" tablet made all the difference in the world. While the Android VNC viewer isn't as slick (yet) as the IPhone VNC client I was using, it does the job, and when I showed it to a few datacenter friends over dinner last night they thought that the pocket size 7" tablet might be a practical choice for them to use, running over WiFi, within their corporate networks, as a tool for remote console use.
It's not a perfect solution, and the friends I was dining with are a pretty hardcore technical bunch, but the fact that they were actually enthusiastic about the potential for the tablet as a datacenter tool seems to indicate a good business case for the future.