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09 November 2012, 11:06

Apple to propose enterprise standard for mDNS

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Bonjour logo Apple, along with Xirrus, Check Point and IBM, is proposing forming an IETF working group to help create an enhanced version of the Multicast DNS (mDNS) IETF standard. The new protocols will be called mDNS Extensions.

mDNS is incorporated in Apple's Bonjour and in the Avahi software for Linux to allow small networks to be self-configuring. But mDNS is built around the idea that everything works on a single subnet. Universities and businesses that would like to use the technology find that, if they enable the multicast across their networks, they become flooded with mDNS traffic. A petition earlier this year from Educause asked Apple to improve Bonjour and the company's other zero-configuration networking (AirPlay and AirPrint) so it would be more suitable for education and enterprise use. Apple's products have become increasingly prevalent within education with the petition estimating a 50 per cent penetration on US campuses.

The petition and other events led Stuart Cheshire, the Apple networking engineer who created mDNS, to start a new mailing list in October. He pointed out that although a number of companies are introducing "Bonjour gateway" products to extend the mDNS local link reach "it's unclear whether they represent a desirable long-term direction for service discovery protocol development". A draft proposal for the working group was also submitted at the same time. After an IETF meeting in Atlanta, it is now expected that progress will be made towards creating a working group and developing standard fixes for the problems by the next IETF meeting, in Orlando in March 2013.


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