Right now one of the biggest trends in IT is that many consumers are beginning to abandon their PCs in favor of tablet devices such as the iPad. In fact, tablet devices completely dominated the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Of course the transition from PCs to tablets can be a bit challenging for anyone who is responsible for making sure that such devices work on an enterprise network.
Although the iPad and the iPhone were not specifically designed to work in enterprise environments, 2X offers a free client component that will allow the devices to function in place of a traditional PC in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environment. The 2X Client App also provides RDP connectivity, which is handy for administrators who wish to use their iPhones or iPads to perform administrative actions while on the go. In this article, I will show you how to download, configure, and use this app.
Acquiring the 2X Client App
The easiest way to get the 2X Client App is to visit http://www.2x.com/virtualdesktop/ios Once on the site, click the iTunes Download button, followed by the View in iTunes button. At this point, you may see a warning message asking you if you want to allow the Web site to open iTunes. If you receive such a warning message, go ahead and click the Allow button. Windows should now open iTunes and take you to the iTunes store, as shown in Figure A.
The 2X Client for iPhone is available for free through the iTunes Store.
You must now click the Free App button. When you do, you may receive a logon prompt if you are not already logged into the iTunes store. After logging in, you may also be prompted to accept Apple’s Terms of Service. The 2X client will now be downloaded to iTunes and synched to your device.
Establishing a Connection
Now that you have downloaded the 2X Client, you can use it to establish a connection to your server. To do so, tap the 2X Client App, and you will be taken to a screen which tells you that no connections exist. Tap the + icon and you will be taken to the screen shown in Figure B, which asks you if you want to set up a 2X connection or an RDP connection. Regardless of which option you choose, the client will ask for some basic information about the connection that you are trying to establish, as shown in Figure C.
You can use the 2X Client App to create either a 2X or an RDP connection.
You must provide some basic information about the resource that you are connecting to.
As you can see in the figure, you must start off by providing an alias. This is simply a name that you will use to identify the connection. Next, you will have to provide the server’s address. An IP address or a fully qualified domain name should work fine. The port number is filled in automatically, but you can change it if you need to.
The next section asks you to provide a set of credentials to be used with the connection. If you are establishing an RDP session to a Windows Server as I am in this example, you will have to provide the username in domain\username format.
The section at the bottom of the screen provides you with some options that you can use to control the overall experience. You can set the screen resolution and you can enable or disable various Windows features. For example, if you needed to conserve bandwidth then you could disable menu animation.
After filling in the required information, the device will create an entry on the main 2X Client App screen that corresponds to the connection that you have defined. In Figure D for example, you can see a connection named Mirage. Mirage is the alias that I used when creating the connection and corresponds to the computer name of a Windows server named Mirage. When I tap on this connection, the device establishes an RDP session with my Windows server, as shown in Figure E.
The 2X Client App creates a connection bearing a name that matches the alias that you provided.
This is what a remote session looks like.
Getting around in Windows is really easy. You can scroll around the desktop by dragging your finger along the devices screen and tapping on an icon is interpreted as a left mouse click.
If you look at the figure above, you will notice that there are three icons at the bottom of the screen. The icon on the left provides you with a more advanced mouse interface that is capable of simulating both left and right mouse clicks. The middle icon provides you with an onscreen keyboard, while the icon on the right is used to terminate the session.
The 2X Client App makes it easy to use the iPhone or iPad in place of a PC in a VDI environment. It also provides remote server access capabilities through RDP sessions. Best of all, the 2X Client App is available for free. It is also worth noting that 2X offers a similar client for Android.