Here's a new use for iPads within the enterprise, as a configuration tool for data centres. The Apple geek toy has been adapted for use by systems administrators thanks to a tie-up between OpenStack, Rackspace's and NASA's open cloud collaboration, and Chef, an open source integration framework from Opscode.
The use of the iPad is an extension of Rackspace's own iPad offering but as Brett Piat, the company's senior manager for technology alliances explained, "We had our own iPad app which allowed administrators to start servers but the new version does so much more, it can start servers, add server to a load-balancing pool etc."
Key to the new offering is the addition of Chef. According to Piat, "Chef is a configuration management open source project run by Opscode, which has been very active in the cloud community. It's a very powerful tool, allowing users to create applications serving 100s of servers up to very large installastions."
He said that Chef was based on so-called recipes, discrete series of resources that describe how a particular operation should be handled, the point being that the next one can't start until the previous stage has been properly configured.
The new iPad app is still in beta stage but will be taken back by Rackspace to offer its users. However, said Piat, the app will remain part of OpenStack and will be available for anyone who wants to work with it – "it will need to be customised for each particular organisation's own needs."