While the frivolous iPhone apps usually get most of the media attention (yes, there really are over 175 apps that can produce rude bodily noises), there are quite a few apps that can help you do your job as an IT worker. While less notorious, they are worth your time to download and check out.
These apps serve several purposes. They can control or interact with appliances that are part of the corporate network, monitor and remotely control your office PCs, or check your Web server. While the small screen of the iPhone can't deliver everything that your multi-monitor desktop rig can, this collection of enterprise-class applications will help iPhone-carrying IT workers manage their work lives better.
What follows is a list of 10 IT business-related iPhone apps. Most of these apps require the v3.0 firmware to work properly. I have also tried to pick those apps that are free (or nearly so).
[Also see Opinion: Putting the iPhone to work -- at work.]
Network troubleshooting/security tools
One of the more fruitful areas of app development for the iPhone is in troubleshooting common network problems, such as figuring out IP subnetting issues, pinging a particular server, looking up a traceroute to a particular destination on the Internet and similar tasks. There are also iPhone companions for larger enterprise network appliances; while most of these aren't free, there are usually demo versions that you can try out if you are thinking of buying one.
Need to do a quick check of your Web server on the Internet or look up a domain name? This is the utility for you. It comes with tools such as ping, port scan, whois queries and geographic lookup of the IP address range. It is easy to enter your host name (although a ".com" dedicated softkey would save on some keyboard taps). If/when it adds Netcat support, this will be a must-have for security professionals familiar with that tool.
There are numerous other network utilities for the iPhone, such as Traceroute ($2), Host LookUp ($1), iTCPing ($1) and Network Diagnostics Pro ($6), but they have user interfaces that are not as elegantly designed.
Network Utility -- Connectivity Checker v2.1 from Codepacity, LLC
Price: $1 | iTunes link
Cymphonix iPhone gives you real-time monitoring of your enterprise Internet connection -- but only if you are connected to a Cymphonix Network Composer appliance that does deep packet inspection, intrusion detection and content filtering. It lets you access data that the appliance collects, such as bandwidth consumption, traffic by protocol and application, etc.
If you want to try it out, you can connect to a live demo Cymphonix appliance on a test network to give you an idea of what statistics are available. The test network is built into the application itself, or you can enter the address of your own appliance.
My only problem with the app is that the deep tree of the company's menu design is about as aggravating as navigating through your iTunes library when you are trying to track down a particular song title. Still, this is a good example of how a traditional network troubleshooting infrastructure vendor can leverage the iPhone for useful IT management, and a good way to show your boss what you can get if you are in the market for the Cymphonix appliance.
Cymphonix iPhone Application v 1.1 from Cymphonix Corporation
Price: Free | iTunes link
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