Friday, March 2, 2012

AnyConnect for Android 4.0

One of the largest complaints levied against Android is the fragmentation among devices.  One of the most glaring examples affecting enterprise adoption has been the limited availability of an official client for Cisco VPN solutions.  Cisco has stated that that the problem results from a lack of a robust VPN API in Android.

Starting in Q3 2011, beta versions of the Cisco AnyConnect client started to hit the Android Market-- unfortunately only for rooted devices   While this may not present an issue for those of us in IT, we all know what a support (and compliance!) nightmare it would be sending users out into the wild with a rooted device.  Shortly afterward, support devices manufactured by Samsung, HTC, and Lenovo.   This still left many devices out in the cold and no clear direction for future support.

With the release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), Google touted a new VPN client API to help mitigate the situation.  Here is a link to the platform highlights and a quote:
"Developers can now build or extend their own VPN solutions on the platform using a new VPN API and underlying secure credential storage. With user permission, applications can configure addresses and routing rules, process outgoing and incoming packets, and establish secure tunnels to a remote server. Enterprises can also take advantage of a standard VPN client built into the platform that provides access to L2TP and IPSec protocols."
Google took care of their end of the equation, but an AnyConnect client from Cisco was still outstanding-- until February 27th 2012.

Under the name AnyConnect ICS you will find the long awaited client.  While there a limited number of devices currently updated to ICS, most devices released in 2011 are scheduled to be updated within the coming months.  I can personally vouch for the functionality of the client with the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus even though it is still labeled a preview release.

The coming months will be interesting.  Will the availability of an AnyConnect client that works across all OEMs be able to help Android penetrate more enterprise customers?  It is certainly a step in the right direction for the platform.

As a parting question, are there any business critical apps that you feel are missing from Android 4.0?  I would be interested to hear from you in the comments.

QR-Code link to AnyConnect ICS in Android Market


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