Remote Communications During A Crisis Can Be Challenging – Some Things To Think About
This blog is focused on the various Cisco mobile clients. While the Unified Mobility feature on the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) plays a key role in building the user experience, we aren’t covering that feature here.
Note: Cisco is apparently rebranding the Cisco Mobile product as "Cisco Jabber for iPhone" (and Cisco Jabber for Android). When looking at documentation, you will find documents under "Cisco Jabber", "Cisco Mobile", and "Unified Mobile Communicator". It is best to go by version numbers.
Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator
Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator (version 7.x) is a client that works with Cisco Unified Mobile Advantage (CUMA) to extend certain Cisco UC applications to a mobile device across the mobile data network. This client is not a dual mode client. It is a client that expands the communication paths available to a mobile device by allowing proxied connections to the corporate UC infrastructure.
In addition to CUMA, the Unified Mobile Communicator requires the Cisco ASA appliance loaded with the appropriate complement of Mobility Proxy licenses.
In June 2011, Cisco released the End of Life (EoL) announcement for Cisco Unified Mobile Advantage and the Unified Mobile Communicator. In my opinion, this is a good thing. The solution didn’t really hit the mark.
Cisco Mobile (Jabber) Client for iPhone
The Cisco Mobile 8.0 and 8.1 clients are dual-mode clients, which are characterized by the following attributes:
Some general considerations when deciding to use Mobile 8.0 or 8.1 for iPhone:
Cisco Mobile (Jabber) Client for Android
I originally wrote about the Cisco Mobile client for Android in February 2011. On initial announcement, the expected ship date was March 2011. Well, the product was announced as available in April (close enough). Cisco Mobile (Jabber) version 8.6 for Android was released on April 2011 and is currently on New Product Hold. This means, contact your Cisco Account Manager if you are interested in testing/deploying. (It also means that Cisco is figuring out how well the client works on non-tested Android devices – my opinion)
Version 8.6 supports CUCM versions: 6.1.5, 7.1.5, 8.0.3, 8.5, and 8.6 (8.6 requires Cisco Mobile 8.6.1).
Because there are a variety of platforms and devices for Android, Cisco has to limit the scope of what they officially support “end-to-end”. So, official support is only available for:
Note: Although not officially supported, Cisco Mobile runs on many Android platforms running version 2.2 or later with various degrees of limitations depending on the device. What does that mean? It means TEST before you deploy.
The Cisco Mobile client for Android offers similar functionality and characteristics as listed for the iPhone client. However, the nature of the OS and the fact that there is a wide variance in platform options leads to some feature differences. One primary difference, which we discuss later, is VPN client support.
Cisco Mobile Client for BlackBerry
Cisco is not releasing a Cisco Mobile Client for BlackBerry (sorry to mislead). The Cisco Unified Mobile Client version 7.x is the last mobile client for BlackBerry. On 4/25/2011, Cisco announced the End of Life (EoL) for the BlackBerry Unified Mobile Client. The last day to order this client is 10/25/2011.
Cisco is not planning on replacing this client with a new version and recommends either changing platforms (if you want to use Cisco Mobile) or migrate to the RIM Mobile Voice System (MVS). MVS is an add-on to the BES. At a high-level, the MVS is inserted into every call flow. A deeper discussion of the MVS is something for another blog.
The Design and Deployment Considerations
The Cisco Mobile clients act very much like a 3rd party SIP client loaded on the mobile device. Some of our customers are actually considering a migration from standard Cisco VoWLAN devices to Cisco Mobile on “multi-task” devices. This makes sense to me (I am not a fan of “uni-taskers”, but you should keep in mind some key differences:
|Feature||Cisco Mobile for iPhone||Cisco Wireless IP Phone|
|Signaling Protocol Support||SIP||SCCP|
|WLAN Call Admission Control||Not Supported||TSPEC, QBSS|
|Roaming||Signal Strength||Signal strength, packet loss, QoS|
|Handoff to GSM||Manual||n/a|
Network Design Considerations
Some design considerations for Cisco Mobile on your WLAN:
Cisco provides some design guidance in the Cisco Mobile deployment guide. A link to this document is provided later.
Application and Feature Support
Some additional thoughts on applications and features that you may care about:
If you require the ability to support remote access between the Cisco Mobile Client and the UC environment when the device is not on corporate network then a VPN solution is required.
For Apple iOS devices, the solution is pretty straightforward using Cisco’s AnyConnect Secure Mobility client. Some considerations:
For Android OS, the path is not as clear. Until recently (7/7/2011), Cisco did not support AnyConnect on Android devices. The limiting factor being that Google hasn’t built SSL VPN capabilities into the core OS and your mileage varies based on each vendor’s UI implementation.
Note: I read in several forums that other VPN approaches work but I did not test this nor do I recommend this approach.
Cisco AnyConnect release 2.4 added support for the following Samsung devices running Android OS:
The ASA version support is the same as for the iOS AnyConnect client. I suppose we should round this out with licensing:
Wireless headsets are nifty, unless you are using the iPod Touch or iPad. Bluetooth is not supported on these devices (last I checked, anyway). With iPhone, you are good to go. Android? I didn’t check for official support.
Cisco Mobile Connect (Single Number Reach)
What started it all (IMO – Remember that Unified Mobility server way back when?). Cisco Mobile Connect works with iPhone and Android phones in the same way as it does with any other mobile device. The only notable difference is that when the Cisco Mobile client registers to the CUCM, the CUCM is smart enough to dis-engage the Mobile Connect feature for that DN.
This is a key consideration. The CUCM native corporate directory application is not supported with Cisco Mobile clients. Instead, Cisco Mobile clients can leverage a corporate LDAP repository for user look-up. At this time, only Microsoft AD is supported. When looking at this design element think “Application Dial Rules” / “Directory Look-up Rules” and you should be good to go (unless, of course, you don’t use MS AD for LDAP).
Other Apps and Benefits
We are running a little long, but I did want to mention Visual Voicemail and Speech Dialing. The Cisco Mobile clients can leverage Cisco Unity Connection to enhance user experience. Speech Dialing is of particular interest. It allows users to place calls by speaking the name of the person they want to reach. Behind the scenes, the Cisco Mobile client calls a speech enabled directory handler on Unity Connection. With iOS devices, the experience is even further enhanced by automatically making the connection to Unity Connection based on a gesture (i.e. a user brings the phone up to their ear). Nifty.
The Links (i.e. References)
I have taken enough of your time. If you want to read more then please feel free to dig into the following:
Cisco Mobile (Jabber) for iphone (8.1)
Cisco Mobile (Jabber) for Android:
VPN Client information:
Remote Communications During A Crisis Can Be Challenging – Some Things To Think About
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Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.
Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.
John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services. Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.
He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.