As the xmas holiday is coming, some lucky ones might find an iPad under the tree, but most of us will hopefully be spending some nice time at home. But what if stuff goes wrong at work, while you are at a nice xmas dinner? Do you need to pull out your laptop or drive to the office.. or can you cope with some of the available mobile management solutions that are available today?

Here at run-virtual HQ we tested out for you the possible options.

- iDataCenter (iPad Native App- €11.99)
- iVMControl (iPhone Native App- €7.99)
- OPS1 (iPhone native App- FREE)
- Rove Mobile Admin (Windows Mobile/Android/Blackberre/Iphone native apps – $595)
- vCenter Mobile Access (Mobile webpages – Free)
- VMware vSphere client for iPad (iPad – Unknown price, not released yet)

iDataCenter

This is a native iPad only app connecting directly to your vCenter Server. It is very straight forward to use, but you must have a VPN connection into your datacenter as I can not imagine you want to directly attach your vCenter to the internet. The UI is not very beautiful or iPad alike but does provide reasonable detailed information about your hosts and VMs and allows you to do basic management like vMotion and Storage vMotion and change the powerstate on VMs. You cannot change the configuration of the VM and for hosts you can only enter it in maintenance mode or disconnect the host (no reboot or poweroff). The app provides no historic data about performance, just a snapshot of a single moment.


iVMControl

This is a native iPhone App, of course it runs on a iPad, but only in the ugly (2x) mode, so no native iPad resolution support. This App also needs a direct connection to your vCenter server. The app works very logically and the UI is much better than the iDataCenter App. It allows you to do all the basic Host actions, like maintenance mode, reboot and disconnect. The possible VM actions are very limited as it only supports Power On/Off and suspend, no shutdown guest as if the maker of the app only assumes you only want to hard power off your VMs. You can not edit any Host of VM configurations, and also no historic performance data is available.


OPS1

OPS1 or Operations Management 24.7 is also a native iPhone app. It directly connects to your vCenter server and also nicely supports as the only application in this list multi vCenter servers. The UI (besides the colors) looks good and is very logic. It support all the basic VM and Host actions and also provides some details about your datastores and Networks. The app is also capable or reporting any alarms and your can acknowledge or remove the triggered alarms from within the App. Unfortunately also this App only provides at-this-moment performance data, so it will be hard to analyze any performance issues on the go.

Rove Mobile Admin

The Rove Mobile admin is not just an App to manage your VMware environment, but also supports many other services like HyperV, Citrix, Novell, Directory Services, Databases, etc. The App is available as native iPhone, Android, Mobile Windows and Blackberry app. (also no Native iPad resolution support). The application connects to the Rove Mobile Admin service, which is a windows service you can install on any machine within your datacenter. The app functionality might be extensive, but it is very slow switching from screen to screen. Also the UI is not always very logic. If you are looking for Host actions you need to first click on Host Summary and only there you will find the host actions button (trust me, this is not easy to find).  The App does provide most common host and VM actions and also allows you to change some very basic VM configuration settings. As extensive the App is, unfortunately does this app also provide no historic performance data.

VMware vCenter Mobile Access

The vCenter Mobile Access is a free virtual appliance from VMware. It only serves up web pages designed for mobile devices like an iPhone/Android or Blackberry. The good thing is that you can use almost any device, but of course the UI is not as slick and smooth as an Native App. From a functionality perspective this ‘App’ goes way beyond the other applications. It offers the normal actions on your VMs and Hosts, but it also gives information about your datastores, alarms and very important if offers historic performance data so you can analyze any current situation if something crazy is going on. One irritating thing about the web app is that every time you start the application you have to provide your vCenter IP, login and Password, there seems no options to keep this saved. As this web app works via a Virtual Appliance, you take no risk on the actual vCenter server, so you possibly could place this appliance in your DMZ and play easy gateway without exposing your vCenter server.

VMware vSphere client for iPad

Last bust not least, the native iPad vSphere Client. This App is not yet available (currently in beta), so no details on pricing and release date. The App is iPad only, so no iphones and connects via the previous mentioned vCenter Mobile Access Appliance, so no direct connection to vCenter needed. As the App is still in Beta, everything is subject to change :-) Currently the beta allows you to do all the basic Host and VM actions, provides some basic debugging tools like Ping and Trace Route and very nicely displays historic VM and Host performance data for CPU, Memory, Disk and Network, which looks really great and is interactive (you can pinch to zoom in and drag along the time line). Besides basic VM operations it can also do snapshot management and provides easy to read information about the latest events on each object.

Conclusion

So what should you get for xmas? I have to say that the iDataCenter and iVMControl app are pricey for what they have to offer. They are not really enterprise class management apps, more like a nice gimmick, where the iVMControl app is clearly much better then the iDataCenter App, the OPS1 is by far the best of the 3 and also the only one that is FREE :-) The Rove Mobile Admin might be extensive, but if you are only looking to manage your VMware environment the price is very high. The app comes in 3 versions and starting with the middle (pro) version you get VMware support, but $595 is a lot, unless you get your company to pay for this luxury :-) If you want the most functionality to manage your VMware environment on any device I would highly recommend the VMware vCenter Mobile Access appliance. It is free and by far provides the most useful operations and more important, information that help you make the right decisions. Sure it is ‘just’ a mobile web app, so you miss the coolness of a smooth native app, but it is fast and reliable.