Wednesday 18 April 2012

Using my iPad for work!

After much pressure from the MD and Marketing Manager, and now also having my own iPad, I decided to investigate iPad access to our network.

My first port of call was configuring a server to run Neocoretech, which is a VDI solution that does not require a SAN or massively complicated infrastructure prior installing (unlike some of the alternative solutions).  With the Neocoretech server running and configured on our network, I had to build a Windows 7 image.  The image I created was a “read only “image, so that the user cannot change the image.  Some minor configuration was carried out to make the virtual machine a member of the domain, as well restricting some functions of the operating system in order to improve performance.   

Testing was carried out from a laptop to ensure the VDI infrastructure was working, before connecting my iPad to the wireless network and browsing the VDI landing page.  I had to install a free RDP client onto my iPad, and I chose Remote Desktop – Universal App by Evolve Networks, as these gave me the option to create more than one RDP session unlike the Wyse free application.

On network, it gave me a very good user experience, where the Windows 7 desktop was useable on the iPad.  The only gripe I had was that scroll bars were a pain, and where you would expect to press and drag them, you had to click to jump to the scroll bar on.

My next challenge was getting this to work remotely.  As you can see from other posts, we use Microsoft UAG hosted on a Celestix appliance as our remote access, but this solution does not offer an iOS client to allow the iPad to fully integrate with the features of the UAG, so I am unable to use the UAG to give me VDI access on the iPad.

As an alternative, I configured a Cyberoam UTM appliance to give me an L2TP VPN.  Following these instructions provided from Cyberoam will give the right result:

As did not have alternative route out to the internet, I create a hotspot on my iPhone, and used Bluetooth to connect my iPad to the hotspot.  Using 3G, I connected my iPad to the L2TP VPN, and from there started up my RDP client, and connected to my VDI server.  I was surprised as the latency was not as bad as I had expected, but it gave me my Windows 7 desktop on my iPad via the 3G network!

Very impressed how quickly this was configured and running, but now I need to customise my Windows 7 VDI image to optimise it for our network.

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