Monday, March 8, 2010

Apple's iPad Enables Acceptance Of Cloud Computing

Apple Inc. announced their their highly anticipated iPad tablet computer on January 27, 2010. Shares of Apple Inc. jumped to a record high of $219.70 after they announced that the tablets will go on sale April 3. Investors are thrilled with the announcement because the new device could be as popular as the iPhone when it launched and it could eventually be even as popular as the iPod. The new iPad is designed to create a new device category between a smartphone and a laptop computer, and it is similar in functionality to the iPhone and iPod touch. Some iPad applications have already been redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen and a new iWork application is available for the iPad with functionality similar to its Mac OS X counterpart.

Steve Jobs' keynote presentation implied that the iPad is intended as a companion device that can sync with iTunes on a Mac or PC, but it should be an ideal thin client for accessing cloud services as well. Although the iPad will be able to sync and backup media and office documents to a Mac or PC, it will also be a tool well suited for accessing cloud applications and remote desktops. Apple doesn't seem to be taking advantage of the opportunity to promote this use case, but I think cloud use will naturally evolve over time.

The early adopters will buy an iPad because they can't resist having the latest and greatest gadgets, but that may not be enough to sell tons of iPads. Businesses and consumers looking to replace their old or broken computers might not consider buying an iPad and a new computer, but they would consider buying an iPad instead of a new computer. Cloud-based services make this possible even with today's technology. Many business and consumer users access cloud-based applications without even realizing it. Facebook, MySpace, GMail, Google Docs, Oracle CRM On Demand,, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Most users in the consumer market use their computers to play games, access the web, e-mail, social networking sites, news, television shows, movies and other media. The iPad should be perfectly suited to handle most of these tasks almost as well as a laptop or desktop computer. The iPad will not provide the computing power to support fast moving games with high quality graphics, nor will it initially support the typical gaming peripherals like joy sticks. However, it is very likely that a good percentage of popular games will be available as an iPad application, and many third party gaming peripherals will probably become available. I believe that the iPad will address 90% of the consumer market use cases, and it will be hugely popular and successful.

There probably won't be an immediate acceptance of the iPad in the business market, but I believe that the iPad is suitable for most business users needs as well. With the iPad version of iWork, it would cover many people's office productivity needs, and compete more directly with desktops and laptops. Arguably the touch screen keyboard is not sufficient for composing long e-mails or documents, but a full-sized keyboard can be connected via bluetooth or the keyboard dock.

The iPad lacks native support for many business critical applications, but remote desktop access is the logical solution to that problem. The thin client concept is ideally suited to business users, because it allows centralized management of applications and data protection. The thin client concept also provides a significant reduction in total cost of ownership, because computing resources are pooled in the data center instead of distributed throughout the office on desktops and laptops. Efficiency is improved cause system administration efforts are concentrated in the data center and there is minimal sport required for the thin clients.

Chris Fleck, Vice President of Community and Solutions Development at Citrix blogged to ask, "Do You Want To Use Citrix Receiver To Run Windows 7 From The iPad ?" He said, "If your company has XenDesktop or XenApp you will be happy to know you will be able to use your iPad for real work as well. It turns out the 9.7 inch display on the iPad with a 1024x768 screen resolution works great for a full VDI XenDesktop."

There is also a Remote Desktop Client (RDP) for the iPhone and iPod Touch, that should run on the iPad. iPad allows you to run iPhone/iTouch applications without any modifications necessary. So, this WinAdmin application would run at about half the resolution of the iPad, and hopefully Carter Harrison will update their app to take advantage of the full resolution of the iPad. These and other iPad applications will enable remote desktop access from anywhere that has 3G or WiFi access. Most office environments already have WiFi access, and the WiFi+3G iPad models should have a fast enough connection in most populated areas of the world.

WinAdmin from Carter Harrison, LLC. is available in the iTunes App Store

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