Cisco Mobile for Android

Author
William Bell
Vice President, Solutions and Products

Introduction

Cisco has a growing list of solutions for those of us who have aligned our mobile toolkit with the Android OS. The WebEx MeetingCenter app is now available for download from the Android Market. Cisco also recently announced the Cisco AnyConnect Mobility Client for the Android on Samsung Galaxy S phones. Oh, and I suppose we shouldn’t forget the Cius.

Based on the various time lines I have seen, I suspect that the AnyConnect, Cius, and Cisco Mobile solutions on Droid will be launched at the same time or in close succession. Either way, Cisco Mobile for Android is coming soon to a mobile device near you. 

Once the Cisco Mobile client is officially released, I plan to provide a follow up to this blog with a “step-by-step” configuration, screen shots, and opinions. I don’t want to go into our test findings here simply because we were testing a beta product and it isn’t very useful to dissect beta software. That being said, the beta software was pretty solid.

The Setup

The beta version only had “official support” for the Samsung Galaxy S i9000. According to the publicly released data sheet for the Cisco Mobile for Android client the same stipulation applies. However, the data sheet clearly states that the software should run on other Android 2.2 devices. The fact is that Cisco can’t test and officially support every single Droid device. During the beta testing, I was using Android 2.2 (Froyo) on a HTC Droid Incredible. I had no issues during my limited testing.

According to the aforementioned data sheet, when the Cisco Mobile for Android client is publicly released, it will support CUCM versions: 6.1(5), 7.1(5), 8.0(3), and 8.5.

Configuration CUCM

As one would expect, the Cisco Mobile client is a new device type in CUCM (“Cisco Dual Mode for Android”). Once the client is officially released one can expect that a device package, device COP file, and/or a service update (SU) will include the new device type. Adding and configuring the device in CUCM is (and will likely remain) a straightforward process. It is very similar to the Cisco Mobile client for iPhones/iPods.

As with all CUCM devices, an Android device is added to the system with a unique device name. In this case, the device name will start with “BOT” (e.g. BOTWJBELLHTC). Aside from the “BOT” prefix, the device name is a free form field that can contain up to 50 alphanumeric characters.

The “tricky” part is found with the Application Dial-Rules. This is a key aspect of all dual-mode applications. User dialing habits are different on mobile phones and enterprise desktop stations. There are several ways to deal with this and Application Dial-Rules provides the most flexible option for administrators. Cisco has a well documented procedure for getting Application Dial-Rules ready for the Cisco Mobile clients. 

Loading Cisco Mobile for Android

When the client is officially released I fully expect one will be able to find it in the Android Market. This is similar to loading the Cisco Mobile client for iPhone from the Apple AppStore.

Initial Client Configuration

As previously noted, NetCraftsmen was testing the beta version. The exact procedures used for the production release of the software may be different. Therefore, I refrain from showing screen shots in this blog.

The setup itself is really quite simple. On initial configuration, users receive a notice that information may be collected by Google Analytics. It is worth noting that Cisco Mobile (at least the beta) relies on Google Analytics to collect and generate aggregate usage and error tracking data. This information is used by Cisco for product improvements. Only Cisco has access to the data collected by Google Analytics, therefore the information is not available to system administrators (or anyone outside of Cisco, apparently). It is worth nothing that system admins can disable data collection on the device page in CUCM (under Product Specific Configuration Layout).

Once the user accepts the terms and conditions for running the application a single setup page is provided.  The setup screen allows the user to specify:

  • Device ID: The device name as configured in CUCM
  • TFTP Server: The IP address (or host name) of a CUCM node hosting the cluster TFTP service
  • Auto Start: Determine whether you want the software to launch automatically when the phone is turned on

If all is well, you will receive a notice that the registration succeeded. If the registration should fail, then you will be provided with a message box that summarizes the reason. I found the admin guide and associated user FAQ to be quite helpful in getting quick resolution to problems.

For technicians and system admins, the Cisco Mobile client provides various diagnostic tools for collecting logs and running diagnostic tests. 

NOTE: If you have other soft-phone clients loaded on your Droid you will receive a conflict warning
from Cisco Mobile. This is expected and the Cisco Mobile client is correct, there may be conflicts.
However, in our tests, the Cisco Mobile client functioned normally with other clients installed on the phone.
We did not test having multiple clients running simultaneously (which just sounds like a bad idea).

Client Interface

The Cisco Mobile client interface on Android is very much like the interface on the Cisco Mobile client for iPhone. Users initiate calls using the native dialer on their Droid. When initiating calls, the default behavior is to prompt the user to choose whether the call should use the mobile (i.e. carrier) or work (i.e. enterprise WiFi and CUCM) network. This is a configurable option. You can specify one of three dial options:

  • Always use work number
  • Select per call
  • Always use mobile number

Personally, I prefer the second option which I believe is the default.

“In-call” features such as hold, transfer, and ad-hoc conferencing are easily accessible and intuitive. Cisco has done a good job on making access to these common features user friendly.

The Cisco Mobile client can also access a corporate LDAP repository to search for contacts. I tested this with Microsoft Windows AD 2003 and it works as advertised. One consideration here is user authentication. Unless I am missing something, you need to specify the user’s LDAP credentials in the Cisco Mobile client if you are enforcing user authentication. 

Conclusion

Cisco is working on rounding out their mobile solutions portfolio which includes addressing needs on the Android platform. The anticipation is that multiple solutions for the Android OS will be launched in the next several weeks.

Leave a Reply

 

Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

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” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

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 Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

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.