Shh, the Secret for a Small Business running almost any Windows Software on the iPad or other mobile device

You can’t ignore it. The iPad has been a game changer in business. And that game is Angry Birds…

In Small Business Land in particular, companies that can (sometimes) change directions on a dime, also have similar expectations of their technology. And that handsomely tactile tablet device, complete with its $0.99 cent apps (Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies are clearly must have Business Applications that help drive the bottom line Winking smile) has become a lightening rod for some of our customers.

And in larger customers, Board Members of larger companies want flexibility and the latest tools toys because the board gets what the board wants (I didn’t say it was sensible, I didn’t say it was what they need – I said this is what they want).

Anyways, the point of this post is to set some expectations about SharePoint, the iPad and a little secret that exists that folks seem to forget about (Terminal Services, Citrix and the Receiver).

Some SharePoint Truths

  • SharePoint 2010 (don’t forget, my bias/slant is how best to run SharePoint wherever) is serviceable on the iPad. It isn’t great, certain things don’t work well, Silverlight is non-existent (as is Flash, though that is a pretty tired argument, besides the odd TSN article, I could care less if I ever saw a Flash whoozit/doodaddy again).  For me, SharePlus (an app that works across iPad/iPhone, Android, Blackberry and soon Windows Phone) is the preferred method to get access to my SharePoint data. There are other apps, including PDF Expert that work okay too.
  • In addition, any kind of real office integration (you know, the Ribbon elements such as upload multiple documents, datasheet view, etc.) only works with Internet Explorer, 32bit office installed and Internet Explorer set to use the correct IE Trusted or Intranet zone settings.
  • Other applications don’t run on the iPad as well natively – Quickbooks, Internet Explorer, Firefox, <insert your application name here>.

And before I forget, while I’m referring to the most popular device (the iPad and its family of iOS devices, anyone that Citrix makes a receiver for (pretty much everything) can benefit from this solution as well.

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But I want Silverlight, IE, Flash, SharePoint, my Office Applications and integration on my iPad

Secured SharePoint Browsing on the iPad … and hey don’t forget, on Windows Machines as well, if you wanted it…

This following requirement has come up a lot as well.  And this solution provides a benefit here as well

Companies provide secured access to a SharePoint site through HTTPS/SSL only to discover later (why? this problem has existed for decades) that when you open a Document in Word when connected to a SharePoint site, there is a risk that file will be left behind on the desktop that was used to retrieve it (i.e. Office apps are supposed to clean up temp files but lots of things, like antivirus, can get in the way of that, and you can’t really guarantee that centrally).

The solution below also mitigates this issue as everything is server side.  So tuck that in your back pocket and enjoy it later…

 

The Secret to Secure SharePoint, Silverlight, Flash, QuickBooks software (and insert your Windows Software here) all on the iPad … for a Small Business

So here it is… (note this solution scales to a maximum of 75 named users). More and you’ll need to move to the bigger Citrix suites.

And for those of you hoping to do this in the Cloud.  Look elsewhere.  This is currently only going to be an on-premise solution or you’ll be paying big bucks for a boutique/custom setup to have someone else run this solution for you (hey, we can do that for you too @itgroove).

For the Server/IT Administrator

Citrix XenApp Fundamentals.  Yep, that’s it.  Ok, maybe I’ll give a little more. You’ll need:

  1. A Server, Hardware or virtualized with enough Jam to service the impending user load
  2. A Windows 2008 R2 Server with licensed Terminal Server CAls
  3. Citrix XenApp 6 Fundamentals Edition, licensed for each ‘named’ user that will use it
  4. An SSL Certificate
  5. Licensed software for use on a Terminal Server (i.e. Office with volume licensing so that you have enough licenses to support everyone, etc.)
  6. Someone who knows how to implement it (that would be us, itgroove, by the way), though let me tell you, Citrix makes it sound like a walk in the park, but it was P-A-I-N-F-U-L.  And support and licensing was less than helpful for the most part.  That’s our job though, go through the pain first, so you don’t have to.

For the End User

Ok, that was the technical, server-side list.  But from the End Users Perspective, all they need to know is:

  1. Have all that stuff above, on the Server
  2. Have Citrix Receiver, on the consuming device (ala the iPad). For the iPad, simply get the (free) Citrix Receiver from the App Store.

Let’s refresh that list of supported devices below:

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So, what does it look like?

Well, I believe this solution is so important, I spent a weekend (and part of Robert’s) making it happen. From standing up servers, making changes, purchasing Citrix and communicating the new changes to staff.  So we’re living it.

In the end, the end user experience is similar to the below.

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There’s the Receiver Icon

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Add an Account

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Specify the address of your SSL protected App Server (published through your firewall of course)

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Name your new connection and specify valid logon credentials

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You should see the apps that you have published (and can be secured/defined per user or department) in the list. Look at us, running a DOS/COMMAND Prompt, Desktop, Firefox, Quickbooks, RDP and other nutty apps (with more in the future) from an iPad!

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Cheeky me, look I’m launching Firefox on an iPad

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And better still, running a fully functional SharePoint site, in Firefox, on the iPad, complete with Silverlight and Flash elements in the site.

You’re welcome Canada (and Citrix Winking smile)

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