Cheshire admitted that Apple is responding to demands from university network managers that the company fix Bonjour and related technologies such as AirPrint for printing over Wi-Fi networks and AirPlay for streaming audio and video so they will work better over enterprise networks.
In August, the Educause Higher Ed Wireless Networking Admin Group published an open petition to Apple seeking improved support for Bonjour, AirPlay and AirPrint on large, campus networks. The petition has 750 signatures.
The petition notes that Apple represents half of all devices on university networks. It cites increasing demand among campus users for Apple TVs that use AirPlay for presentations and personal use. It also cites increasing user demand for AirPrint from devices such as iPads.
"Limitations of Apple's Apple TV, Airplay and Bonjour technologies make it very difficult to support these scenarios on our standards-based enterprise networks," the petition said.
The higher ed community has asked Apple to fix several aspects of these technologies including: making Apple TVs accessible from Apple client devices across multiple IPv4 and IPv6 subnets; improving Bonjour so that it will work in a scalable way in large enterprise wireless and wired networks; adding support for wireless encryption and authentication methods to Apple TV; and the use of enterprise Authentication, Authorization and Accounting services for Apple devices including Apple TV.
In general, university network managers want Bonjour, AirPlay and AirPrint to be scalable to thousands of devices, to work with wired and wireless networks from different vendors, to not negatively impact network traffic, to be easily manageable on an enterprise scale and to be provided at a reasonable cost.
In response to some of these concerns, Cheshire proposed to the IETF that MDNS be changed to allow for small multicast domains to be created on a large network, without losing the zero configuration and service discovery features.
Cheshire pointed out that several vendors - Xirrus, Aruba , Cisco, Aerohive and Ruckus - are selling Bonjour proxy devices to help enterprise customers by relaying multicast traffic across large networks, but that these devices are making the multicast flooding problem worse.
"The software that already exists in Apple Bonjour and Linux Avahi has some wide-area capabilities. We have some tools to build with, but we have not put it together right,'' Cheshire said. "The question is whether there is interest in the IETF to step in and do it better"