July 24, 2012, 3:54 PM — Cisco plans to add code to its wireless LAN controllers to make Apples Bonjour-based technologies like AirPlay and AirPrint better behaved on enterprise networks.
BACKGROUND: IT groups petition Apple to fix Bonjour protocol
The code will turn the controller into a Bonjour gateway, and couple this with policy-based end user privileges. For users, this will mean that Apple clients will be able to find and access network-attached AirPrint printers, Apple TVs and the like on different subnets, so everything will just work as it does on their own home networks.
A second expected result will be a big decrease in the amount of Bonjour-based discovery traffic that today is putting a heavy load on enterprise nets teeming with Apples MacBook laptops, iPhones, iPads and more.
Cisco is hosting a Webcast seminar and demonstration of its still-in-development Bonjour Gateway Tuesday, July 24, at 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern).
The webcast will also present Ciscos plan to extend one of its existing technologies, called Network Based Application Recognition, to its wireless LAN firmware. For the first time, Cisco WLAN controllers will be able to dissect packets and compare them to a database of about 1,500 application signatures to identify a specific application -- such as a video conference versus a Netflix video, or a Skype voice call -- to be prioritized, blocked, or given bandwidth limits, for example.
Bonjour, originally called Rendezvous when introduced in the early 2000s, is Apples latest implementation of zero configuration networking or Zeroconf, which is a group of open Layer 2 protocols to automatically and quickly set up an IP network, without having to set up services such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, DNS, and DNS Service Directory. (More background is online at a page maintained by Stuart Cheshire, Zeroconfs pioneer, who was later hired by Apple.)
And in simple home Wi-Fi networks, thats just what happens: Apple clients broadcast for services, the services identify themselves, and client and service simply connect, paving the way for specific Apple protocols like AirPrint for printers and AirPlay for sharing multimedia among Apple clients via an intervening Apple TV box