Petition to 'fix' Apple's Bonjour technology now online

Petition to 'fix' Apple's Bonjour technology now online

The petition asking for changes to Apple's Bonjour and Airplay technologies is now online and accepting digital signatures until Aug. 10.

As of this morning, the petition had been signed by just over 400 people, nearly all of them with widely varying IT roles, from network administrators to CIOs, at colleges, universities and research institutions. But it's open to any IT professionals who have struggled with Bonjour as enterprise networks are flooded with iPhones and iPads, not to mention Apple TVs.

The document can be found here. Click on "Petition letter" tab to see the actual text.

BACKGROUND: Designing 'iPad WLANs' poses new, renewed challenges

The petition to Apple is the result of ongoing IT frustration over trying to administer Apple's discovery services, which are designed for fast and easy connectivity in very simple networks, in more complex enterprise networks. [See "IT groups petition Apple to 'fix' Bonjour protocol."] The petition was launched recently by a group of higher ed IT professionals on the Educause WLAN listserv.

The proposed changes, petitioners say, would make it easier for IT to provision, manage and secure Bonjour-enabled networking of Apple products. But they would also make it easier for Apple users to find and use resources they want on corporate networks, such as printers running Apple's AirPrint protocol, wireless multimedia streaming via Apple's AirPlay, flat-panel displays or high-def speakers via Apple TV, or projectors. And today they often can't do that because of how enterprise networks are designed and how Bonjour works.

A recurring theme in the comments posted by the signers is their desire to make much greater use of Apple products and services. "We would love to more fully utilize AirPlay and AppleTV devices in the classroom for learning, but cannot due to the restrictions within Bonjour and the severe limitations within the AppleTV," says a post by Christopher Wieringa, senior network systems engineer at Calvin College. "We would love to put an AppleTV in every classroom and have students and faculty alike connect to it and share content with each other."

"Users buy devices and expect to be able to use them -- BYOD -- We cannot build enterprise networks to support consumer class hardware that won't scale to a large environment," says Bo Lowrey, assistant director IT, communication services, at a large research university.

"Apple makes elegant, easy-to-use devices and solutions and then cripples their usability in environments other than the Living Room," says Romeyn Prescott, who didn't give a school affiliation. "It makes no sense when there is so much more potential to be realized!"

WLAN vendors such as Aerohive and Aruba have released or announced software upgrades that are designed to make Bonjour more "enterprise friendly." And Cisco last week demonstrated in an online webinar some of the functions of a Bonjour Gateway to handle some of these issues. The gateway won't be released until early 2013.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: Email: john_cox@nww.comBlog RSS feed:

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