Oracle App Moves Virtual Desktop to iPad

There’s good news for users of Oracle’s virtual desktops: they just became even more portable. The company launched the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client App for Apple iPads. Available for free at Apple’s iTunes store, it takes enterprise computing to places it has never gone before.

Specifically, the free application lets users connect to their own virtual desktops managed by Oracle’s Sun Ray Software and Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.  Users of the application will be able to run enterprise-level applications that they would usually run from their virtual desktops, such as Oracle’s Siebel CRM, right from their iPads. Even applications that require browsers will work with the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client for iPad.

Screen shots of the application in action reveal that users can choose between any Oracle virtual desktops that are normally available to them when they are logged in. A good-sized virtual keyboard helps with data entry tasks. The virtual keyboard supports all of the functions you’d expect, including CTL, ALT, ESC, Insert, Delete, Tab, Home, End, Function, Paging, and cursor keys.

Oracle also makes smart use of the iPad hardware hosting the application by supporting a variety of gestures on its touch-screen, including multi-touch gestures. The application even provides a clear table that shows each gesture and the action to which it equates (a tap with one finger registers as a left mouse button click, while tapping with two fingers yields a right mouse button click).

Enterprise-level applications aren’t truly portable if they’re not secure, and Oracle is well aware of this. The Oracle Virtual Desktop Application for iPads protects the security of user sessions with 256-bit AES encryption, even over public Wi-Fi connections. The application also supports the built-in VPN functionality of iOS. Speaking of iOS, users of the application can multi-task and seamlessly switch among other iOS applications.

The new application is part of Oracle’s update of its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure package. The latest version, Oracle VDI 3.3, can use Oracle Linux in addition to Oracle Solaris as its host platform. It also improves the package’s performance, increasing both its responsiveness for users and its multimedia support. Users will be able to enjoy Windows Media Player and real-time audio streaming through USB headsets. It’s worth noting, in this context, that one of the benefits Oracle gained from its purchase of Sun was the latter’s Appliance Link Protocol (ALP), which simultaneously improves the quality of its audio and drastically cuts network bandwidth requirements by up to 92 percent.

{mospagebreak title=Oracle Virtual Desktop Client in Action}

The new iPad application stands to make enterprise computing more portable than ever. So says Chris Kawalek, writing for Oracle’s virtualization blog. He offers of an example of a health care worker with a Sun Ray Client at the nurse’s station. “You can login to your Windows (or Solaris or Linux) virtual desktop from that Sun Ray Client and access whatever applications you have access to. You can then grab your iPad, go to a different office, and pick up your desktop right where you left off. Or if you forget your iPad, you can login to your virtual desktop from pretty much any PC in the office.”

Other possible uses of the new application include easing seasonal ramping up woes for contact centers. Many contact centers need to drastically increase their capacity when the holiday shopping season rolls around, “but the setup time for adding new workstations for each agent is very costly,” Kawalak observed. “This year, those folks can be given iPads and then immediately access applications like Oracle’s Siebel CRM without even needing a PC or monitor.”

Oracle Virtual Desktop Client for iPads is also a boon to traveling sales representatives who must make regular presentations, thanks to the ubiquity of Wi-Fi. “I was at an Oracle function in the UK a couple of weeks ago where one of our sales consultants gave a presentation running on his Windows virtual desktop in his office in Australia. That’s about 10,000 miles away, over a WiFi connection in a hotel. And it worked great.”

The new application benefits users, administrators, and businesses trying to cut costs. Wim Coekaerts, a senior vice president at Oracle, notes that Oracle Virtual Desktop Client App for iPad, when used with Oracle’s Sun Ray Software and Oracle Virtual Desktop infrastructure, benefits customers by delivering “enhanced security, centralized administration, lower cost, and better access to their corporate data from iPad.”

Anthony Lye, senior vice president of Oracle CRM, noted potent benefits to using Oracle’s Siebel CRM with the new application. “When combined with Oracle Virtual Desktop Client App for iPad, customers can now access Siebel CRM on the go without any modifications. The user’s desktop environment, including any web-based Siebel CRM application, is hosted in the data center and rendered accurately over the network on the iPad, increasing speed and ensuring that no local data is stored on the device, which increases security."

Oracle still faces some tough competition in the desktop virtualization market from Citrix and VMware. In the area of cloud computing, some of Oracle’s competitors going forward include Hewlett Packard, IBM, Cisco, and Red Hat. But this bold move into the iPad market gives Oracle a definite edge, one that will surely grow as more workers and executives embrace the iPad.

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