ZeroConf in Practice

ZeroConf, or Zero Configuration Networking, is an IETF Working Group that seeks to define standards for IP-based, configurationless networking. This implies service discovery, and configurationless (automatic, out-of-the-box) inter-client connectivity.

In current practice, a lot of network resources can only be provided by manual configuration. This is potentially costly, since a lot of configuration has to be applied and maintained on a large scale. It is also risky, since any explicitly maintained configuration is prone to error, be it human or related to imperfect technology. Furthermore, static configuration may also negatively affect flexibility. If adding a simple network resource, a printer for example, requires modifying system configurations on each network client, then this simple operation suddenly becomes time-consuming, costly, and error-prone.

ZeroConf seeks to address these issues, and in doing so reduce the maintenance points in IT infrastructure. An interesting question would be, then, where application of ZeroConf technology would possibly be beneficial for the practice of system administration. Additionally, the feasibility of adding ZeroConf to existing systems, thus diminishing their maintenance costs, would be an interesting topic to decide by means of proof-of-concept experiments.

The Zero Configuration Networking Working Group's website contains (pointers to) descriptions of ZeroConf technology. ZeroConf, by the name of RendezVouz , is a prominent constituent of Apple's Unix system (Mac OS X); and an Open Source ZeroConf implementation exists.

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