If you hadn't heard, the iPad has finally arrived. Although I wasn't completely blown away by the device (see "InfoWorld review: iPad surprises, disappoints"), I'm sure it's going to be a major part of the new age of technology, and I'll be using it daily. Unfortunately, it doesn't run a general-purpose operating system, which is limiting to some degree, especially for those who want to be able to color outside the lines. You know, people like network and system administrators.
So what options are there for admins who want to be able to read an e-book, check some email, and maybe do some work on the device? Turns out that several developers think the same way, and there are iPad-based administration apps available right now.
I've been using iSSH on my iPhone and iPod Touch seemingly forever. Several times over the past few years, it's saved my bacon when I was out and about and received distress calls from servers. Using the tiny keyboard on the iPhone to deliver command lines to Linux systems isn't terribly efficient, but when you're in a car or somewhere without network or computer access, it gets the job done. With the iPad, the text input problem isn't nearly as severe, and I've found the iSSH client to be very usable.
iSSH provides SSH and VNC clients, a simple host bookmarks system, and various soft keys to enable functions not available via the built-in keyboard, such as Control, Alt, and arrow keys. There's also gesture support and buffer scrolling. All in all, it's an extremely attractive client that runs quite nicely on the iPad. I don't think it's viable for long coding sessions due to the difficulty of accessing special characters on the keyboard, but for normal administration, it's definitely a go.
Windows admins have it a little harder. Where using SSH to connect to a shell on a Linux box is very simple, using a touchscreen device to remotely control a GUI, well, isn't. It's possible, but not very fluid.
There have been RDP and VNC clients on the iPhone for a while now, but the tiny screen made them essentially useless for all but the most basic tasks. With the iPad's larger screen, it's suddenly a much more usable interface. There's still that pesky problem of mouse control, though.