Manage your infrastructure via your iPhone!?

By | January 4, 2010

The other day I noticed the below YouTube video featuring Dave Allison on the XsigoVirtualIO Channel on YouTube.  The video shows off an iPhone app that allows you to manage Xsigo Directors from your iPhone. 

I thought it was pretty cool, so gave it a shout on Twitter.  It seems other folks thought it was more than pretty cool, with comments like way cool being thrown about.

While I think the idea is cool, I’m not sure how interested companies would be –> management and configuration changes to production kit from an iPhone ….. sounds a bit ahead of its time to me.   Cool, yesBut is cool what major companies and managers of large Data Centres are looking for?  Remember that Xsigo kit is pretty squarely pitched at enterprise customers.  Would such applications cause more worries and concerns than they would solve problems?

Think about it this way……. Matt Davis pinged me back saying that he had once done “symcli over ssh over VPN ….. via my iPhone” to administer a Symmetrix DMX!!  Not sure what your initial thoughts are on hearing that, but mine were trepidation.  Sure, that’s pretty damn cool, but pretty flipping scary too!  Kudos to Matt, but more scary than cool in my books 😉

But that is comparing apples to oranges, SYMCLI is an entirely different beast to the Xsigo UI.  If nothing else, one thing that the Xsigo iPhone app does demonstrate, is the simplicity of administering Xsigo kit.  I’d feel a lot safer administering a Xsigo director via an iPhone app than performing SYMCLI via an iPhone. 

Thought:  Hows about administering Cisco UCS via an iPhone?  I hear rumours that Cisco UCS is so complicated to configure, Cisco will only let you have it if they do the configuration work! 

Anyhow, even if the Xsigo kit is so simple to manage ….. not sure how comfortable the powers that be would be with it?  Id be interested in other peoples thoughts on this.

So assuming enterprise data centres are not quite ready (Im open to being wrong) for staff administering production kit via their iPhone, what would they be happy doing via an iPhone? 

How’s about iPhone apps for monitoring and reporting?

Not quite as cool, but once people become comfortable with monitoring and reporting via an iPhone…. may be bolder moves like configuring and managing might be more palatable.

Video courtesy of the XsigoVirtualIO’s Channel on YouTube

Heck may be apps like this will help propel the iPhone in to large corporate accounts as a serious business phone.  Probably about as close to enterprise as Apple are going to get.

Initial opinion: Very cool, unsure how popular it would be in enterprise accounts. May be slightly ahead of its time.

UPDATED OPINION (6th Jan 2010): The more and more I think about this, the more and more I like it.  We will no doubt be seeing more and more apps like these in the future, and this could be an absolute godsend under certain circumstances.  A great little tool to have in your toolbox.  It probably wont be long before we wonder how we got by without apps like these.  But the hard part will still be trying to convince the risk averse "steady as she goes" powers that be.

I’m interested to hear what anybody else thinks.  I've also placed a related poll on the Homepage please cast your vote.

 DISCLAIMER: I use a BlackBerry…….. and wish it was an iPhone 😉

6 thoughts on “Manage your infrastructure via your iPhone!?

  1. Jim Ensign

    Hmm…let me think about this — managing an enterprise network while sitting at a desk and in front of a large screen is OK, but doing the same from a secure VPN and a small(er) screen is not or considered risky. 
    All the while we are stating that "things are moving to the Cloud" and compute/networking/storage resources are fungible. We need to live it too!!
    It is all a mind-set – 10 years back one might nor have completed banking transactions with a handheld device like the iPhone – today it is routine. Let us stretch our minds a bit here folks – physical boundaries no longer matter. This stuff can be managed from the other side of the planet .
    This app is COOL – no apologies required!!!

  2. Nigel Poulton Post author

    Hi Jim,

    Actually I agree with you.

    But putting on my customer-facing hat I have to wonder how many banks, telcos, gvt contracts and the likes are going to be in love with the idea – these customers, in my experience, are risk averse and generally like to be a little behind the curve when it comes to new stuff like this (oh and a lot of these guys still prefer to have their kit managed locally).

    If I were to mention it to a lot of my customers Im sure they would grin but not expect me to bring it up again.

    As for monitoring and analytics….. thats a different ball game. But making config changes to production kit via an iPhone with clunky thumbs like mine might well be a step too far at the moment.


  3. Nigel Poulton Post author


    I should have been more clear.  It wasn't you doing the symcli stuff that worried me……  Its the idea of some of the folks Ive worked with in the past attempting work like that 😉

    Assuming good staff then Id have no worries.  However, Ive seen my fair share of cowboys in my time.


  4. Dave Allison

    The idea of the Xsigo iPhone app is not to replace the main Xsigo control UIs (CLI and XMS) but extend the UI to a remote location and allow you to be informed of problems while you lie on the beach. 
    However, being informed of a problem (through a push notification) is great but will be sort-of useless if you can't do anything about it!
    The monitoring ability of the iPhone app needs to be coupled with the ability to make changes to fix the problems.  I don't think anybody is suggesting that you set up a datacenter from an iPhone, but it definitely needs to have the ability to allow you to make changes to the configuration.
    Think of it like the AT&T U-verse app for the iPhone – I wouldn't use it to program my DVR full time but it's awfully useful when I'm not home.

  5. Nigel Poulton Post author

    Hi Dave,

    I know that the iPhone app is not intended to replace the XMS GUI, and I think it looks like a great app. From the YouTube video it looks well designed and simple to use.

    My initial worries were based on the issues I have with my touch-screen BlackBerry – Im forever making typos and its a bit clunky. Ive had more of a mess around with my wifes iPhone and its much slicker! The more and more I think about this, the more and more I like it. Great little tool to have in your arsenal!

    I still wonder how many data centre managers will be so easy to convince. I might suggest the notion to some customers over the next month or so see what their reactions. However, with the types of companies I work for, I cant use examples such as programming a DVR – that is a world away from their mission critical kit.


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