I'm not sure why I've taken such an interest in mDNS, service discovery, and the Bonjour protocol, but I have. It probably has something to do with my not being able to use AirPlay at home for such a long time because, like any true network geek, I put my wireless devices on a separate VLAN from my home media devices. I mean, duh. So now I keep an eye out for different methods of enabling mDNS in the network in anticipation of my own experience in my home network becoming one of my customer's experience in their enterprise network.
As I've written about in the past (here), Apple's AirPlay technology relies on Bonjour which is Apple's implementation of “zero config” networking. One of the things that Bonjour enables is the automatic discovery of services on the network. For example, an Apple TV might advertise itself as being able to receive AirPlay streams. An iPad that is looking for AirPlay receivers would use Bonjour to discover the Apple TV and present it to the user as an AirPlay destination. Both the Apple TV and iPad do all this without any user intervention or configuration (hence the “zero config” part).
That's fine and dandy but what my earlier article focused on was how Bonjour broke down in a network where what I'll call the “server” and the “client” are not in the same Layer 2 domain/VLAN. This is because the service discovery aspect of Bonjour relies on link-local scope multicast. These packets will not cross Layer 3 boundaries in the network.
I don't really keep up to speed on consumer technology. For me, the enterprise IT space holds more challenge and interest. There is one piece of consumer tech though that has become fully ingrained in my life: the tablet. For that reason, I'm going to summarize my experience in using both Android and Apple based tablets.