Is the iPad Compromising the IT Industry?
It’s kind of like the perfect storm… The Internet has exploded in growth and its ubiquity directly corresponds to the Commoditization of “Connected Devices”. It started with devices such as the iPhone and Blackberry and it’s spiked again with the introduction of the iPad.
Gartner announced this week: Without Proper Planning, Enterprises Deploying iPads Will Need 300% More Wi-Fi. This is pretty serious if you’re the one responsible for making sure these enterprise systems work reliably.
I’ve been in the IT industry for a while now and I can tell you from experience the adoption of new technology has ALWAYS been a hard sell to upper management. Then the iPad hits the market and the drive for adoption starts coming from the TOP of the orginization. The “Cool Factor” of the device made it the “thing” to have in the board room.
The fact that the iPad is NOT a laptop replacement is lost on the CEO, CFO, COO, etc.. I’ve seen people who once had to have perfection in their “productivity tools” all of a sudden accept the major limitations of their new toy. These limitations are not only limited to the iPad, all the tablets being wedged into the corporate world have limited features and poor security.
To be fair, I’ve tested the iPad & it was a fun toy. If you just want to surf the web and check your email it will do that just fine. If you want to use your accounting applications, ERP system, or edit complicated spreadsheets it’s going to have its challenges. I’m now testing the Blackberry Playbook which has similar limitations and a lot less available applications.
The only “Tablet” that I’ve ever used that, in my opinion, was worth anything was a Tablet PC where the screen could be rotated and reversed allowing you to use its 14″ touch screen. This, to me, is the best of both worlds. Full featured, powerful, and completely compatible with your existing workflow and environment. Is it a little bigger than the iPad? Sure it is but that difference is 100% worth it to me.
Do you have an iPad (or other tablet)? Does it do everything you expect?
Finally someone who agrees with me. I find iPads to be limiting and I understand they can be used as platforms for business specific functions such as a cash register or sound board. For average business use and word processing I find it a bit cumbersome and unnecessary.
Some of our folks (CEO, sales) like iPad or similar tablets. Support uses a Galaxy Tab. I think the Transformer Prime might be the best of both worlds. I still use a laptop but it’s a small one running Citrix XenClient as its OS.
My goal has always been to make applications independent of the client access device. So most of them are web-based. Granted, a few people insist on using Windows desktop apps for certain tasks. Mostly out of habit I would contend but a few are niche industry apps. So I have built up a couple pools of Windows Terminal servers to run niche apps. I hope to move to Citrix XenDesktop next year to offload GPUs to the servers so heavyweight niche software like Adobe CS can be run from any device.
So sometime next year I am hoping that tablets will be more functional than a desktop computer. But they will still have the limitations of bandwidth and no offline use. That’s less of an issue today given 3G and 4G penetration. Worst case they have to break out the laptop.
Wifi is of course a huge problem too. Most people don’t understand how radio works. So that puts them at a major disadvantage in building a wifi network to support this stuff from the start. Fortunately, I studied microwave communications in college (i.e. cellular, etc) and have some clue how to deal with it. We had the added problem in that in addition to employees we have a training school with 40+ students on wifi simultaneously in a single room. You can’t handle that with any access point I know about. So, what to do? Well, I bought a Netgear Spectrum Management server appliance and a bunch of Netgear access points with integrated panel antennas. I split the training school into two zones and split the main offices into zones and bounded each zone with panel antennas. The management device load balances client device activity based on RSSI and throughput. This is the type of system hotels or college campuses use. So you can walk through the building and you get handed off from one device to the next as you move.
The key is for IT to try and stay ahead of management’s whims, I think. That’s almost a full time job in itself. And, of course, management never thinks ahead on IT issues. So the best you can do most days is have an answer for why XYZ doesn’t work or no longer works.