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Cisco answers user questions about upcoming Apple Bonjour Gateway

John Cox | Aug. 16, 2012
To cope with the rising tide of iOS devices trying to use Apple's Bonjour discovery protocol on enterprise networks, Cisco recently announced that it is building a Bonjour gateway for its wireless LAN controllers. The company replied to nine follow-up questions after an online webinar for IT professionals about the product.

After the Cisco webinar, IT professionals raised a number of questions about Cisco's implementation. Here are the questions and Blandford's answers.

Some of Cisco's support documentation for dealing with Bonjour mentions the Avahi software, an open-source zeroconf implementation. Is Cisco's pending Bonjour Gateway based on, or incorporate-and-make-use-of Avahi?

The gateway is not based on Avahi.

The webinar's demo showed wireless clients, but didn't seem to address wired clients, such as a wired Apple TV. Will the Cisco gateway handle wired Bonjour devices?

The Bonjour Services Directory will snoop for devices on both the wireless and wired-side of the network. [For example,] when a client on the wireless side of the network requests the "AirPlay" service, the controller will return back both the Apple TV on the wired network, and the Apple TV on the wireless network.

Will customers need to have a wireless LAN controller on each routing node in the network, to ensure that VLANs (subnets) can reach the controller? If VLANs cross a Layer 3 boundary, will a controller be needed to terminate them?

In the initial release, the VLAN of wired Bonjour devices must be trunked to the [WLAN] controller so that their advertisements can be seen. We recognize this presents a challenge for customers with distributed networks -- so we are exploring the capability for the [Aironet WLAN] access point to also snoop Bonjour traffic. With this flexible solution, a "Bonjour Detector" AP can be placed anywhere in the network and snoop Bonjour for all of the devices on that wired segment while sending relevant service entries back to the controller's master database.

In the future we are also looking at leveraging other Cisco devices in the network that can perform wired-side snooping and improve the reach of the solution.

Does Cisco have any plans to incorporate the Bonjour GW in their IOS firmware running on their Catalysts?

This is a logical place for wired-side Bonjour snooping. However we cannot comment on official roadmap positions.

In the webinar, Cisco said it will use filtering to restrict which clients can see which services (Apple TV's, etc). What will Cisco use to filter Bonjour requests?

The filtering options are: · Per WLAN/SSID · Per VLAN or AP Group · Per Interface Group (which is a group of VLANs pooled together).

A Bonjour service policy can be created and applied on any one of the above criteria. In the future, we will support per-user Bonjour service policies which will come as a RADIUS attribute from the AAA server.

Will Cisco support location-aware service discovery to limit the number of, for example, Apple TVs that might show up on an iPhone or iPad in response to a discover request?


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