Server Admin Remote: Administration on the Move

  • Posted by Chris Brewer
  • April 20, 2010 2:47 AM PDT

Every once in a while an app pops up in the Apple iTunes App Store that gives me cause to wonder 'Why didn't Apple do that?'

Server Admin Remote is just such an app.

Created by doctoral candidate Maximilian Reiss and Leon von Tippelskirch (Technische Universität München), Server Admin Remote provides a wide variety of very useful functions for managing a Mac OS X Server installation.

Snow Leopard server is a quality server operating system, offering a number of desirable services at the amazing price of $499 for unlimited clients. Apple publishes a terrific suite of free tools for remotely administering their server operating system aptly named Server Admin Tools. What's been missing thus far is a mobile app for accomplishing the same thing.

Using the same hooks in the server operating system as Apple's Admin Tools, Reiss created a well conceived mobile-ready app that provides the administrator with the ability to monitor multiple Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard servers over Edge, 3G and Wi-fi circuits.

Using the app, you can view logs, turn on/off various protocols, monitor the status of services like web, iCal, PodcastProducer, and XGrid, view graphs of CPU/network/disk loads, and restart the server.

The app is sophisticated enough to use Bonjour (Apple's implementation of Zeroconf, a service discovery protocol), which allows the app to automatically locate servers if they're on the same subnet as your mobile device.

With or without Bonjour, setting up the app is easy. Click "Add New Server..." then fill in the details. Then choose the services you want to monitor on that server:

Once configured, the at-a-glance viewing of service status is über handy, providing the ability to start and stop the service and gain basic insight to metrics with the touch of the finger.

The capability to view system logs as well as the various service logs is invaluable, and is handled elegantly by the app. Services with more than one log are displayed with multiple tabs, allowing you to select which log is shown (as illustrated in image 3 below):

Server Admin Remote also provides nice visualizations of CPU, Network and Disk Storage, viewable by hour, day and week where it makes sense. Turning your device sideways expands the graph to full screen (as illustrated in image 3 below):

Security-minded folks (hey, you're a systems admin, right?) will appreciate that app communication is encrypted via SSL on port 311. Server configuration data (including login and password) are securely stored in the keychain on the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.


iPad owners will be glad to hear that Server Admin Remote is a universal app, meaning it will run on both iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad.

The app shines even brighter on iPad, where the larger screen provides the developer the ability to arrange information and create a stylistic interface the draws inspiration from the datacenter, with a rack on the left side holding graphical representations of each server. Click the image below for a full resolution shot:

About the App Developers

Max Reiss is a doctoral candidate and research assistant at Technische Universität München.

He teaches applied project management and software engineering to students in large student project courses. He is preparing to teach a third iteration of an iPhone programming course:

Max uses his subway commute time between home and the university to write apps like this one.

Leon von Tippelskirch recently completed his studies at the Technische Universität München.

He is currently working at Boinx Software on the Apple Design Award winning software BoinxTV. He uses the subway commute together with Max to write Server Admin Remote.

Upcoming Enhancements
Reiss says the app is undergoing consistent improvements. Upcoming features are:
  • Software Update trigger (so you can start a software update from your iphone)
  • Network Shares view
  • Enable the configuration of services one by one
  • many more small enhancements
A solid tool for the administrator on the move

Server Admin Remote is a solid offering, providing real benefit to the admin on the go. It's easy to navigate, reliable, and performs well. Though relatively expensive as apps go at $11.99, I believe in the scheme of things, this app is well worth the price of admission.

Server Admin Remote is available for $11.99 on the iTunes App Store.