Rendezvous on the LAN Side

Apple's new auto-IP-services discovery protocol will reduce administrative overhead and user training/notifications.

July 29, 2002

2 Min Read
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Of all the announcements at MacWorld Expo, the most relevant to the networking world is Apple's new Rendezvous technology. This auto-IP-services discovery protocol is based on open IETF standards. The goal is to allow the computer to discover printers, file shares, instant message users and other network entities automatically, with no user intervention or configuration needed. Take a compatible printer and plug it into the LAN, and users can print to it. Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark and Epson have all said they would adopt Rendezvous.

This is not a new idea. Way back when Apple first introduced AppleTalk,peripherals could use the protocol's chatty nature to announce availableservices to locally connected devices. A printer could even broadcast adetailed report about its workload and technical difficulties. With nextmonth's release of Rendezvous-enabled Mac OS X 10.2, Apple will bring thissame notion to Ethernet, AirPort 802.11, Bluetooth, FireWire and USBnetworks -- and to more than merely printers.

Applications of Rendezvous will range from cute to serious -- from sharingMP3 play lists to autodiscovery of IM names. For example, you can discoverand send IMs to anyone in a meeting or office space without altering yourbuddy lists. This technology will be a godsend to remote office locationsthat don't have an onsite administrator. Just plug in a network printer, andit works. Of course, you must be using a Mac.

Because Rendezvous is based on open standards, there's a good chance you'llsee this functionality in Windows and Linux in the future. If the tech worksas shown, there is great promise and simplicity. However, some questionslinger: Will this cause a flood of broadcast traffic? How does thetechnology account for privacy? How will it keep out rogue users? Will therebe support for password protection or user authentication? Finally, can thiseffectively work on a network with multiple subnets and WAN links?Still, if privacy and security concerns don't freak out the users andadministrators, Rendezvous will make maintaining a network much easier byreducing administrative overhead and lowering user training/notifications.
--Michael J. DeMaria, [email protected]

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