Feature

iPad apps for CIOs

It's a fair bet that the iPad has already infiltrated your organisation. And while that may introduce some management headaches for the IT department, there are lots of really useful apps.

One of the first apps everyone looks for is a Microsoft Office analog. A significant problem for iPad users is that the iPad doesn't really know how to work with a file system. However, a number of apps now support connection to online file sharing services such as Dropbox and Box.net. Better yet, WebDAV support is becoming common. That means it's possible to send and retrieve files to appropriately configured Sharepoint servers and other content management systems. Also, if your business uses Google Docs, many apps can read and write files to Google's storage.

There are lots of options for those seeking a Microsoft Office analog. Apple's own suite of apps - Pages, Numbers and Keynote - are a great place to start but the total cost of all three can be as much as double some of the other options on the market. Office2 HD is a competent suite that can connect to WebDAV services. There's also QuickOffice and the old favourite from the Palm days  - Docs to Go. One of the nice things about DOcs to Go is that it can sync to a desktop computer easily without iTunes as there's a free desktop sync client.

The pick of the office suites: Apple's Pages is a great word processor and Keynote is excellent for presentations. We're not huge fans of Numbers but that may be because we're long term Excel users and are used to how it works. Docs to zgo and Office2 HD are our picks if you're after a more Excel-like spreadsheeting solution.

A few other apps we recommend for the busy CIO.

1. iThoughts HD

If you're into mind mapping then you'll want iThoughts HD. It makes it dead easy to create mind maps. We've used it in team meetings for project planning, brainstorming and other team activities. If you want to come into a meeting with a map pre-prepared you can collapse all the branches and then selectively expand the branches. It supports output via the iPad's optional VGA and HDMI connectors.

2. Omnigraffle

If you're after a Visio replacement then look no further than OmniGraffle. Org charts, process diagrams, flow charts - you can create all of those and more. Output can be copied as an image that can be pasted into documents in other applications. Graphics can be sent to WebDAV servers as well although there's no option to save files in formats that be edited by other apps.

3. GoodReader

To make up for the lack of a "proper" filesystem, you'll need an app so that you can organise the files you need take with you. GoodReader makes it easy to store attachments from email, downloaded files from the web and data from WebDAV, Google Docs and many other cloud storage services. With cloud storage, you can sync folders back to your iPad automatically.

4. SubnetInsight

Ever wonder what devices are connected to your LAN? SubnetInsight scans your network and lists all of the connected devices. It  doesn't do a whole lot more than that but if you're after an overview of how busy your network is then it does the job.

5. iTeleport

The iPad makes a great system administration tool. iTeleport lets you remotely control systems using the VNC protocol from both within and outside the network. If you have to manage or monitor lots of systems, you need iTeleport.


This was first published in May 2011