Archive for the ‘iPad/iPhone’ Category

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Short-Take: vSphere Client for iPad, Preview

March 18, 2011

I highlighted the installation and use of VMware’s vCenter Moble Access (vCMA) appliance in a post in late February. For the most part, vCMA has not changed much since our initial download back in April of 2009. If you downloaded the OVF early this February and looked at the updated instructions from the “fling” site, you may have noticed the following “curious” statements:

  • Once it powers on, you will need to configure your iPad by going into Settings, the vSphere client (usually bottom left corner of screen, in the Apps section), then you enter the IP address of your mobile appliance.
  • Finally, you can access your environment from the vSphere iPad app by entering your vCenter server info or ESX server info, with appropriate username and password.

vSphere Client for iPad

Having a heads-up from the vExpert team briefing by Srinivas Krishnamurti, Sr. Director for Mobile Solutions and Marketing at VMware, plus earlier press coverage from VMworld 2010 (see below), I knew what this “information leak” was hailing. Fortunately, the offending section (text above) was quickly redacted and VMware managed to avoid spoiling the surprise pending today’s [press release].

However, that was not the only source of “information leakage” prior to today’s announcement: you just had to know where to look. For instance, while looking deeper into the virtual appliance for our vCMA how-to, I found bread-crumbs pointing to more “curious” iPad wanderings. The following “Easter egg” was discovered in the “action-config.xml” file (which we held back under the spirit of the information embargo):

<!-- VCMA iPad Actions -->
 <action name="vcmaAbout" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaAboutAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaLogin" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaLoginAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaLogout" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaLogoutAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaHome" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaHomeAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaHostInfo" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaHostInfoAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaHostOp" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaHostOperationAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmInfo" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmInfoAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmQuestion" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmQuestionAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmAnswer" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmAnswerAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmOp" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmOperationAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaSnapshot" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaSnapshotAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaPerf" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaPerfAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaSearch" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaSearchAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaPing" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaPingAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaTracert" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaTraceRouteAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmsList" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmListAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaMonitorTask" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaMonitorTaskAction"></action>

This grouping of action/command definitions identify 17 of 23 vCMA action classes. These classes meant four things to me: (1) the actions are tuned specifically for a non-HTML-only client; (2) the limitations of vCMA’s web interface do not bind the iPad client; (3) there is significant potential for “capabilities drift” between the iPad client the “generic” mobile access client (i.e. HTML) as time goes by (read: richer feature set, user options); and (4) other “tablet” or “mobile” clients can’t be too far behind.

Since it is not feasible to have iPad software previews for vExperts (i.e. via iTunes) for pre-release products, this “pre-view” is based on exposure to product briefing and other pre-launch sources (direct and indirect). We’ll be following-up within the week with actual hands-on experience… That said, here’s what’s going on with VMware and iPad:

vSphere Client for iPad

Today, VMware CIO Steve Herrod announced the launch of version 1.0 of the vSphere Client for iPad (vCiP). The aptly named utility runs on Apple’s current generations of iPad and provides access to many of the basic administrative functions available to vCenter and the standard vSphere Client. This release must be seen as a quick, 1-2-3 punch of mobile and management-centric releases for VMware in the span of two weeks: vCenter Ops, View Client for iPad and now vSphere Client for iPad.

This iPad application is not truly a “native” or “fat” client for vSphere in the “conventional Windows sense.” Instead, VMware’s new app deploys as a web service reliant application (typical of its iPad ilk), and it is accordingly “small, light and elegant.” As you might guess from the [leading] introduction, the “heavy lifting” is actually performed by VMware’s vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) appliance through the set of new classes (conveniently listed above).

VMware diagram showing (optional) placement of firewall, vCMA, vCenter and vSphere clusters. The use of a VPN connection to your firewall is strongly recommended as vCMA deploys with its web service without SSL enabled.

This illustration depicts the “best practice” recommended deployment for the iPad client by way of a trusted VPN connection. Again, this information was provided to us from Srinivas and his team “pre-launch” and hence was also prior to the recently released enhancements in vCMA (see below). In either case, the connection from iPad to vCenter is always translated through vCMA.

Like the standard Windows “fat” client (now conveniently available as a ThinApp’d zero-install package), the iPad client login requires the following credentials:

  1. The IP address or DNS host name for your vCenter;
  2. A valid user name with rights to access/manage the target vCenter;
  3. The password for the vSphere user.

Unlike the Windows variant, the following must be configured into the iPad’s “Settings” for the vSphere app prior to initial connection:

  1. The IP address or DNS host name for your vCMA appliance (displayed as “Web Server” in “Settings”).

vCMA’s web service is not SSL encrypted, and these credentials could be passed “in the clear.” (see updated post, SSL added to vCMA this Tuesday.) Given this client is targeted for mobile use, the risk of exposure to insecure networks (Internet, public WiFi, etc) without SSL would have created “special” opportunities for man-in-the-middle attacks. However, the use of a mobile VPN connection for the iPad client is strongly recommended, but no longer strictly necessary.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Quick-Take: Buying an iPad2 on Friday

March 10, 2011

New iPad2, launcing in White and Black "on day one"

If you’re chomping at the bit to buy an iPad2 on launch day, the question remains: which one to buy? There seems to be many options and ways to go, but ultimately this will end-up being a personal decision. However, there is an economic and functional rational that you should consider before coughing up nearly $1K on an arguably cool device.

Given the choices of models and network options, this should definitely NOT be an impulse buy, and I hope you look at it in a reasoned – if not somewhat giddy – way. Here are my thoughts for personal acquisition (not for businesses – you guys need to run POC for at least 3-6 months!):

Basically, there are three models: WiFi, WiFi+3G/ATT & WiFi+3G/Verizon, with three flash variants of each – 16GB, 32GB & 64GB – and two color variants of those – black & white. That’s a total of 18 different SKU’s for iPad2. So here’s how the process breaks down to me:

  1. Since WiFi/Bluetooth is the same on all models, choose first between 3G (includes aGPS) or WiFi-only (no aGPS);
    1. Choose carrier between ATT & Verizon (either are month-to-month):
      1. ATT offers two options for iPad2:
        1. $15/month for 250MB/month; with automatic charge of $15/250MB overage;
        2. $25/month for 2GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/1GB overage;
      2. Verizon offers four options for iPad2 WiFi-only + MiFi:
        1. $20/month for 1GB/month; with automatic charge of $20/GB overage;
        2. $35/month for 3GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        3. $50/month for 5GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        4. $80/month for 10GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        5. Note: MiFi device is free only with a 2-year contract.
      3. Verizon offers four plans for iPad2 WiFi+3G:
        1. $20/month for 1GB/month; with automatic charge of $20/GB overage;
        2. $35/month for 3GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        3. $50/month for 5GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        4. $80/month for 10GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
    2. Choose memory size; 3G Models will cost according to their memory size regardless of carrier:
      1. $630 for 16GB, black or white;
      2. $730 for 32GB, black or white;
      3. $839 for 64GB, black or white;
    3. Choose color;
      1. Black;
      2. White;
  2. For WiFi-only models, you’ll give-up accurate location (no aGPS) but save money (see MiFi above for mobile access):
    1. Choose memory size; 3G Models will cost according to their memory size regardless of carrier:
      1. $630 for 16GB, black or white;
      2. $730 for 32GB, black or white;
      3. $839 for 64GB, black or white;
    2. Choose color;
      1. Black;
      2. White;
  3. Choose how you want to purchase:
    1. In-store (5PM local time):
    2. On-line (1AM PST):
  4. Enjoy iPad2 nirvana!

SOLORI’s Take: Steve Jobs really wants to see you on-camera and in line. Apple made a point to require retailers to coordinate sale starts at 5PM local time to be able to maximize “free” advertising benefits based on local, mobile news feeds from “high demand queues” at retailers. There’s no discount for purchasing after standing in a retail store line, so why queue-up without compensation just to be part of the iPad2 marketing push? Buy from an on-line retailer (or wait) and avoid the lines.

As for the model and plan, economically the 16GB iPad2 makes the most sense. If you need 3G but have no interest in using your iPad as a navigation unit while you drive, get MiFi and get the benefit of being able to use it with up to 5 other devices (laptop, iPad1, Android tablet, etc.) If you’re replacing your 32GB+ iPad and laptop (good luck) in this purchase, you may go all out, but don’t be surprised when buyer’s remorse sets-in a month or so hence. Then it comes down to 3G variant: ATT has more global reach (see link above), but beware of “data roaming” charges, while Verizon has a bit better $/GB rates (see above).

If you choose to que-up and volunteer for Steve Jobs unpaid marketing army, good luck and stay safe. According to BestBuy’s playbook, you’ll get a “ticket” for the model you want in line. There will only be tickets enough for the actual models they have and they’ll likely only know what that list is one to two hours before 5PM local time. When all tickets are gone, they’ll issue standby tickets for the next day, etc. At BestBuy at least, you’ll need to leave a $100 deposit with your standby ticket and it will be issued in the form of a $100 gift card usable towards your iPad purchase.

[Update: SOLORI’s iPad2 ordered for the lab at 2:53AM CST from ATT on-line – black, 16GB WiFi+3G, 2GB/mo. data plan. Verizon, Walmart, Target all show iPad2 as unavailable on-line and in stores at 5PM.]

[Update: On-line supplies of iPad2 started at 2-3 business day promised delivery and had gone to 2-3 week delivery by 9:30AM PST.]

[Update: 15-Mar-2011 – USPS delivered iPad2 – 2 business days achieved.]

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Short-Take: Windows 7 for iPad, Free

March 9, 2011
Windows7 running on iPad

Windows7 running on iPad

Remember that announcement about View 4.6 and the PCoIP Software Gateway (PSG) a week or so back? If the existence of PSG got your imagination drifting towards running Windows7 over PCoIP on your iPad or Android tablet, then some of you are going to be very excited and some of you will have to wait a little bit longer.

Today VMware is taking mobile desktop to a new level by announcing the general availability of the View Client for iPad V1.0 – Android tablet users will have to wait! This is a iPad-native, PCoIP-only client for View 4.6 environments (i.e. PCoIP w/PSG support) with  gesture-enabled navigation and virtual mouse pad. If you liked accessing your View desktop in Wyse’s PocketCloud for iPhone & iPad (RDP mode only), you’re going to love the View Client for iPad because it unlocks the rich, PCoIP goodness that you’ve been missing.

Last week a group of vExperts were briefed on the iPad app by its development team leader Tedd Fox who came to VMware in August, 2010 after nearly 8 years of work at Citrix (co-inventor/designer of Citrix Reciever for iPad & iPhone). To say Tedd knows iPad/mobile and remote app/desktop is an understatement, and VMware has committed to an aggressive “feature update” schedule for the iPad app on the order of every 1-2 months (typical of mobile application norms.)

Needless to say, we had a few questions. Here’s just a few of the responses from our Q/A and demonstration session:

vExpert: Will there be a iPhone link for touchpad control?

Tedd: No. Due to some patent-pending issues, we decided not to tread on that ground.

vExpert: Has it been enhanced for the iPad2?

Tedd: No. It’s [iOS] 4.3 “ready” but nobody’s got an iPad2 so no one knows if there application’s going to work. We’ve tested on dual-core architecture before, just not Apple’s dual-core architecture.

vExpert: Dual-core tested? So there’s an Android app coming?

Tedd: Android app is coming! We’re looking at mid-year for the Android. I just spent a few weeks in China getting that in alpha-alpha mode; so we actually have a UI and everything – we’re just building-up the bits… it’s going to be tablet only. It works on a 7″ right now, but we’re not sure if that’s a useful form.

vExpert: Is that because it’s too small [i.e. 7″ screen]?

Tedd: It’s because of the mouse pad and everything… it just doesn’t feel right – the resolution and everything.

vExpert: Not even with panning and side scrolling [small screen]?

Tedd: Not really. Panning a windows desktop is “okay” for like 10 minutes, after which you develop something like Tourette syndrome with curse words and all. We actually ran tests on that to figure that out, but it could change [given the right demand/use case.]

vExpert: Will it support bi-directional audio?

Tedd: No, uh, uni-directional is definitely on the roadmap so doctors can dictate and stuff like that. Otherwise, we’re going to see how the protocol matches up for [more complex] audio applications.

vExpert: Can we get more information on the Android app?

Tedd: I don’t want to get into the Android client because everything is still “in flux” and we’re still designing it…

vExpert: Will [View Client for iPad] work with bluetooth mouse and keyboard?

Tedd: Yes… You have to go into the iPad settings and pair them… then with you do the three-finger tap on the screen – like to activate the on-screen keyboard – that’s how you activate the bluetooth keyboard [only, no mouse support per Apple policy], and the [on-screen] toolbar drops down to the bottom of the screen… It’s very nice to use.

vExpert: Will it support multitasking, multiple sessions and session swapping?

Tedd: No. We’re working with Teradici on full-multitasking for one of the feature revs this year.

vExpert: It seemed that logging-in and getting to your desktop seemed pretty quick. What would you say?

Tedd: This [demo] is on 3G – by the way – so it’s fairly quick. The only [downside] is if you’re using RSA tokens: you’ve got to read the token and put it in… If the broker policy allows users to save their passwords, then you’d only need the token code.

vExpert: Is there a way to transfer data to/from the iPad from the [View client desktop]?

Tedd: Working on that – that’ll be in the next rev or two. There’s a grey area there with the shared foldering system in iOS – some people are like “yeah, awesome” but if you talk to DoD they’re like “heck no” so we’re working on an elegant solution.

vExpert: What about dropbox or something like that?

Tedd: If we have an internal solution then yes. I don’t want to be [bound by a third party] on our app – I want to keep it as “pure VMware” as possible. If the market screams for it in enough number, then of course I’m going to listen… If it’s allowed in your desktop’s environment [dropbox will work.]

vExpert: How’s the performance of the View client while other programs are in the background on the iPad?

Tedd: You don’t even notice it. If you know me you know I’ve constantly got white earbuds on. One of my test cases was working on a desktop while running on Pandora in the background.

vExpert: Price is free?

Tedd: Yeah, as long as I’m with VMware it will always be free.

Over the course of the demonstration, we saw Tedd put the application through its paces. It’s fast – even on the original iPad. The gesture interface looks well thought-out, has been thoroughly tested – Tedd says “rock solid” – and repeated three-finger abuses [rapid toggling the keyboard] won’t crash the View iPad app. Can’t wait to get it into SOLORI’s lab…

Gesture Help for iPad View Client

View Client for iPad Keyboard (three-fingers to pop-up)

View for iPad soft mouse pad and cursor keys

 

Client support for tap-hold loupe: zoom near mouse pointer.

Related Links:

[Update: View 4.x -> View 4.6 (iPad Client designed for View 4.6 and PSG). Added community blog link, virtual keyboard and loupe screenshots. Remote add -> Remote app. Added link to Andre’s VDI calculator. Clarification on bluetooth mouse support. Related links section with PCoIP off-load.]

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Quick-Take: iPad2 Launched, Features Left on the Drawing Board

March 2, 2011

The iPad2, Available in "Black or White" on March 11, 2011

No doubt that Apple is the 800lb gorilla in the room when it comes to mobile tablets and phones today. With lack-lustre acceptance of the first “official” Android tablet – Motorola’s Xoom – the new aspects of the Apple iPad2, announced today, will surely keep iPad adopters on-board for the next version. Coming March 11, 2011, the new iPad will come in three memory sizes (16, 32 and 64GB) and be available as an WiFi-only variant (802.11a/b/g/n) as well as a Wi-Fi+3G+aGPS variant (UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/GSM/EDGE or CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A) – both with Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.

Besides coming in a “white” model from “day one,” the iPad2 sports the anticipated Apple A5 dual-core system on chip based on the ARM Cortex-A9 CPU. The 9.7 inch LED-backlit multi-touch display features the coveted IPS display technology that gave the original iPad such great color. Additionally, the iPad2 joins the iPhone4 in the dual-camera club with a front-facing VGA camera (suitable for FaceTime) and a rear-facing HD camera (suitable for 720p, 30 fps video).

Apple's HDMI "mirroring" connector includes pass-through 30-pin port for charging.

Rounding-out the features include HDMI output via proprietary 30-pin to HDMI+30-pin adapter (dongle) supporting video to 1080p. Missing from the “dreamed about” feature list are: high-resolution display, removable media, standard USB ports,  autonomous GPS and near field communications interface. At 0.34 inches thick and 1.33 lbs, the iPad2 shed 0.17 lbs and 0.16 inches in thickness by removing the additional display glass, but it kept the original’s 1024×768 display – a slip behind the standard 1280×800 display profile of Honeycomb-wielding 10″ tablets.

Out of the gate, iPad2 versions will be available for AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the US (although specific launch dates for either carrier are not yet available). The iPad in Business section of the release site looks impressive on the surface. The existing list of business oriented applications for iPad together with the obvious polish of the product represents a real obstacle for its competitors (like QNX-based Blackberry Playbook and Android-based Motorola Xoom).

SOLORI’s Take: The iPad2 represents a conservative update to the existing and wildly successful iPad (over 10M units in 2H 2010). Loyalist iPad users are early adopters, so it’s a no-brainer to predict that 3M iPad2’s will ship in H1/2011 to “iPad1” owners. If it happens, that makes for a solid supply of discarded iPads over the next few months which can actually HELP Apple entrench – giving them an artificial low-end product due to upgrades. Given that there is zero reference to the original iPad on Apple’s site, it’s safe to say that when inventories are gone, iPad2 will be the only game for Apple.

The shortcoming for iPad2 over its Android contenders is physical standards. I mentioned the screen resolution as compared to Android Honeycomb standard, but the Blackberry Playbook comes in under both devices at 1024×600 (last year’s “unofficial” Android tablet standard). While the Playbook is lighter at 0.9 lbs, it’s also smaller (and 0.1″ thicker) – more of a challenger for Galaxy Tab than iPad. Most of the Tegra2 tablets have mini-USB (some have full-size USB) and offer either mini-HDMI or full-size HDMI ports – either on-board or through a docking port. It’s rumoured that Apple has locked-up the IPS display market, but at 1024×768, those opting for higher resolution may turn to Android competitors for more desktop real estate.

Besides matching iPad2 feature-for-feature, Tegra2 Android tablets represent a serious threat (technologically) to iPad2. Another issue is storage: nearly every Android comes with both removable and built-in memory options – something neither iPad or Blackberry offer. In a business world, the ability to quickly exchange data without using WiFi or 3G/4G is huge – especially where remote access applications are concerned. That makes iPad dependent on its wireless carriers and WiFi/hot-spots for data exchange (or docking/undocking to notebook, laptop, etc.) The removable memory feature also allows enterprises to purchase the low-end memory configuration and supplement them with third-party memory or require end-users to supply their own.

Where iPad2 has the biggest advantage is turn-key applications through Apple’s iTunes market, and this is something they’re pressing heavily in today’s marketing message. Forget the clever iPad2 cover, its applications that ultimately make the product valuable to business. If Apple can stay ahead here, enterprise will follow. Unfortunately, Apple may find its “hatred” for Adobe’s Flash a position that could erode its market faster than anything else. Flash could be the great equalizer (or market accelerator) for Android and Blackberry, allowing businesses to rely on web-apps instead of native ones… in the meantime, Google has the clout and growth rate to compel all but the staunchest of application vendors to play both sides of the split market.

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Quick-Take: Google Turns to Zynamics after recent Malware Proof

March 2, 2011

With enterprises eyeing mobile “smart” phones and tablets as the next wave of technology to improve worker productivity, responsiveness and presence, the recent infiltration of trojan malware into Google’s Android Market is likely to go unnoticed. However, the ramifications appear to be crystal clear to Google as they responded by quickly snatching-up German reverse engineering firm Zynamics. In a blog post yesterday, Zynamics’ CEO Thomas Dullien – aka Halvar Flake – simply stated:

We’re pleased to announce that zynamics has been acquired by Google! If you’re an existing customer and do not receive our email announcement within the next 48 hours, please contact us at info@zynamics.com. All press inquiries should be sent to press@google.com.

There is still no official press release from Google on the matter, however SecurityWeek and other sources have stated that Google has indeed confirmed the acquisition. It is unlikely that the timing of this announcement is unrelated to the recent Android Market fiasco or the “rumoured” Apple iPad2 launch supposedly to take place today at 10:00 AM PST.

An estimated 50,000-200,000 users downloaded tainted apps from Google Market before the items were pulled-off the site. Of course, Apple is not without its share of  problems in iPad. There was a major breach in June, 2010 resulting in at least 114,000 compromised iPad users including then Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  However, in the iPad case the breach came as a result of a direct attack on iPad vulnerabilities where the Android compromise attacked a weakness in Google’s Market policies – essentially taking a “trusted back door” approach.

Meanwhile, VMware has been on the road promoting it’s mobile virtualization platform with partner LG. In a hands-on video at the 2011 Mobile World Congress taken by Engadget, the VMware mobile hypervisor can be seen fronting two phones within a phone. While this approach can help to secure corporate data from infiltration of the “consumer” side of the schizophrenic cell phone, it cannot protect the phone from OS vulnerabilities (like the iPad Safari weakness) or authorized deployment vectors (like Google’s Market infiltration.) To protect assets from these kind of attacks, the use of mobile anti-virus and anti-malware will be imperative.

SOLORI’s Take: VMware’s type II hypervisor does enable corporate policy enforcement that would bee too “draconian” for most users to co-exist with their personal or mixed-use phone or tablet . While no official word from VMware has been given on when their mobile hypervisor will make the leap from phone to tablet, it’s not a huge leap given the software has already been shown on the Nexus One and LG Optimus Black.

Given that the LG Optimus is based on TI’s Omap 3630 and the Nexus One incorporates the older Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, and both are based on ARM Cortex-A8 CPU core found in many Android and Apple iOS devices, VMware’s offering appears to be very mature. Also, it is only a type II hypervisor so it should be no time until we see it running on more current, mainstream devices running ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs used in Nvidia Tegra2-based devices like LG Optimus 2X, Motorola Altrix/4G & Xoom or the rumoured Apple A5 chip “destined” for iPad2 and iPhone 5 or even the new TI Omap 4430 that power the like of the Blackberry Playbook.

Can a type II hypervisor quell corporate America’s security concerns about information leakage and IP theft? Given the right deployment model, tools and resources it represents a step in the right direction. The jury’s still out to see how wireless sharing, two separate data plans and two anti-malware threads affect run-time on platforms that threaten the delicate balance of usability and battery life…