Erik Ableson 3 minute read
December 12, 2018

iPad Pro fills in when I’m low on battery

So an interesting question about the current polemicising about whether the iPad Pro is “real” computer or not and I’m going to add a little current story to the mix about how an iPad Pro can be a really useful tool.

So today I was spending some time in a server room at a small company and we were upgrading the storage system and I was dealing with the fact that the previous sysadmin adhered to the (incomprehensible) policy of leaving extra space between the servers in the rack. This meant that I needed to free up some additional space by moving a bunch of equipment in the rack to consolidate the available free space into a 2U block where I could install the new disk expansion enclosure. Fortunately, I got enough space from moving some ESXi servers so it’s just a matter of putting them in maintenance mode, shutting them down, deracking, moving the rails, re-racking, boot up and on to the next one.

Side note: rail technology has really improved a lot in the last few years. Dealing with the old stuff is a real PITA - good thing I always travel with a multi-tool – as much for the screwdriver as for a solid chunk of metal to whack things.

So of course I had my MacBook Pro connected to the network (no wifi in the server room) and wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I was chewing through my battery with the backlight on full and that the room only had PDU style plugs and I didn’t have that adapter with me. So the inevitable happened and I ran out of power.

But since I travel with the iPad Pro as well, I realised that there is nothing about the general tasks of operating an infrastructure that actually require a full-fledged desktop OS to do the job. What I needed were :

  • Safari to access the vCenter HTML5 UI along with a few other internal web-based tools

  • Prompt for SSH access into a ZFS server that needed some maintenance

  • Microsoft Remote Desktop to access the Windows only management tool for the storage system we were upgrading

Now that the new iPad Pro uses USB-C instead of Lightning, I was able to simply plug in the USB-C Ethernet Adapter that had been connected to my MacBook and I was off to the races.

Next trip I’m going to start with the iPad Pro and see how far I get – I suspect the running out of battery won’t be an issue…