John Welch over at Ars Technica wrote a wonderful post about using an iPad as a system administrator's tool, noting that Apple's tablet is "an addition, not a replacement" to the many tools that IT pros currently use to complete their daily tasks.
Welch brings up points that I discovered when I first started taking my iPad along on client visits -- the size is right, the battery life is wonderful, and it's much more handy than a laptop or an iPhone. Note-taking, for example, is much easier to accomplish on the iPad, and it's possible to prop up the iPad for easy reading at a distance instead of squinting at a small screen. Welch notes that he's able to easily analyze data from Cacti or Nagios with just a glance, keeping an eye on how things are doing.
With Welch's iPad, there's no waiting for a laptop to start up every morning. Most devices can be monitored in the aforementioned Web-based systems, he has email to catch messages about systems going down, and once a problem is found, he can "get a lot done over SSH." Welch uses Prompt (US$7.99) as his SSH client of choice, perfect for logging into Mac or Linux servers and desktop machines.
For other sysadmin tasks, Welch has some concerns. There's no iPad analogue to Apple Remote Desktop, for example, although Windows network admins have a wonderful tool available in WinAdmin ($7.99). Apple hasn't released any management tools for Mac OS X Server that run on the iPad, but there are some limited third-party tools available such as Server Admin Remote ($9.99).
Still, there's a good-sized market for sysadmin tools for the iPad, and if Apple doesn't step up to the plate to deliver them, Welch hopes that third-party developers will. If you're a system administrator who uses an iPad regularly at work, let us know in the comments what tools you use or would like to see.