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Extensions for Scalable DNS Service Discovery (dnssd)

WG Name Extensions for Scalable DNS Service Discovery
Acronym dnssd
Area Internet Area (int)
State Active
Charter charter-ietf-dnssd-01 Approved
Document dependencies
Additional resources GitHub Organization
Personnel Chairs Chris Box, David Schinazi
Area Director Éric Vyncke
Mailing list Address
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Charter for Working Group


Zero configuration networking protocols are currently well suited to
discover services within the scope of a single link. In particular,
the DNS-SD [RFC 6763] and mDNS [RFC6762] protocol suite (sometimes
referred to using Apple Computer Inc.'s trademark, Bonjour) are
widely used for DNS-based service discovery and host name resolution
on a single link.

The DNS-SD/mDNS protocol suite is used in many scenarios including
home, campus, and enterprise networks. However, the zero configuration
mDNS protocol is constrained to link-local multicast scope by design,
and therefore cannot be used to discover services on remote links.

In a home network that consists of a single (possibly bridged) link,
users experience the expected discovery behavior; available services
appear because all devices share a common link. However, in multi-link
home networks (as envisaged by the homenet WG) or in routed campus or
enterprise networks, devices and users can only discover services on
the same link, which is a significant limitation. This has led to
calls, such as the Educause petition, to develop an appropriate service
discovery solution to span multiple links or to perform discovery across
a wide area, not necessarily on directly connected links.

In addition, the "Smart Energy Profile 2 Application Protocol Standard",
published by ZigBee Alliance and HomePlug Powerline Alliance specifies
the DNS-SD/mDNS protocol suite as the basis for its method of zero
configuration service discovery. However, its use of wireless mesh
multi-link subnets in conjunction with traditional routed networks will
require extensions to the DNS-SD/mDNS protocols to allow operation
across multiple links.

The scenarios in which multi-link service discovery is required may
be zero configuration environments, environments where administrative
configuration is supported, or a mixture of the two.

As demand for service discovery across wider area routed networks
grows, some vendors are beginning to ship proprietary solutions. It
is thus both timely and important that efforts to develop improved,
scalable, autonomous service discovery solutions for routed networks
are coordinated towards producing a single, standards-based solution.

Working Group Description

The focus of the WG is to develop a solution for extended, scalable
DNS-SD. This work is likely to highlight problems and challenges with
naming protocols, as some level of coexistence will be required between
local zero configuration name services and those forming part of the
global DNS. It is important that these issues are captured and
documented for further analysis; solving those problems is however not
within the scope of this WG.

The WG will consider the tradeoffs between reusing/extending existing
protocols and developing entirely new ones. It is highly desirable
that any new solution is backwardly compatible with existing DNS-SD/mDNS
deployments. Any solution developed by the dnssd WG must not conflict
or interfere with the operation of other zero-configuration service and
naming protocols such as uPnP or LLMNR. Integration with such protocols
is out of scope for this WG.

Current zero configuration discovery protocols are constrained to
operate within a single link, which implicitly limits the scope of
discovery. In extending service discovery protocols to operate over
multiple links, devices will inherently become discoverable over a
wider area, which may introduce security or privacy concerns. The WG
will consider such concerns when exploring the solution space for
multi-link service discovery.

To that end, the primary goals of the dnssd WG are as follows:

  1. To document a set of requirements for scalable, autonomous
    DNS-based service discovery in routed, multi-link networks in the
    following five scenarios:

(A) Personal Area networks, e.g., one laptop and one printer.
This is the simplest example of a service discovery network,
and may or may not have external connectivity.

(B) Home networks, as envisaged by the homenet WG, consisting of
one or more exit routers, with one or more upstream providers
or networks, and an arbitrary internal topology with
heterogeneous media where routing is automatically configured.
The home network would typically be a single zero configuration
administrative domain with a relatively limited number of

(C) Wireless 'hotspot' networks, which may include wireless networks
made available in public places, or temporary or permanent
infrastructures targeted towards meeting or conference style
events, e.g., as provided for IETF meetings. In such
environments other devices may be more likely to be 'hostile'
to the user.

(D) Enterprise networks, consisting of larger routed networks,
with large numbers of devices, which may be deployments
spanning over multiple sites with multiple upstreams, and
one more more administrative domains (depending on internal
administrative delegation). The large majority of the
forwarding and security devices are configured. These may
be commercial or academic networks, with differing levels
of administrative control over certain devices on the network,
and BYOD devices commonplace in the campus scenario.

(E) Mesh networks such as RPL/6LoWPAN, with one or more links per
routable prefix, which may or may not have external connectivity.
The topology may use technologies including 802.11 wireless,
HomePlug AV and GP, and ZigBee IP.

In the above scenarios, the aim is to facilitate service discovery
across the defined site. It is also desirable that a user or device,
when away from such a site, is still able to discover services
within that site, e.g. a user discovering services in their home
network while remote from it.

It is also desirable that multiple discovery scopes are supported,
from the point of view of either performing discovery within a
specified scope or advertisement within a specified scope, and
being able to discover (enumerate) the set of scopes such that
an application could then choose to do either. It should be noted
that scope in this sense might refer to 'building' or 'room' and thus
might have no correlation to network topology.

  1. To develop an improved, scalable solution for service discovery
    that can operate in multi-link networks, where devices may be
    in neighboring or non-neighboring links, applicable to
    the scenarios above. The solution will consider tradeoffs between
    reusing/extending existing protocols and developing entirely new

The solution should include documentation or definition of the
interfaces that can be implemented, separately to transport of
the information.

  1. To document challenges and problems encountered in the coexistence
    of zero configuration and global DNS name services in such
    multi-link networks, including consideration of both the name
    resolution mechanism and the namespace.

It is important that the dnssd WG takes input from stakeholders in
the scenarios it is considering. For example, the homenet WG is
currently evaluating its own requirements for naming and service
discovery; it is up to the homenet WG as to whether it wishes to
recommend adoption of the solution developed in the dnssd WG, but
coordination between the WGs is desirable.


Date Milestone Associated documents
Dec 2017 Submit DNS-SD Advertising Proxy draft to the IESG as Standards Track RFC

Done milestones

Date Milestone Associated documents
Done Adopt DNS-SD Advertising Proxy draft as a WG document
Done Adopt hybrid-proxy implementation draft as WG document
Done Submit wide-area service discovery solution draft to the IESG as Standards Track RFC
Done Submit DNS Push draft to the IESG as Standards Track RFC
Done Adopt device pairing mechanism draft as a WG document
Done Adopt privacy extensions for DNS-SD draft as a WG document
Done Submit the zeroconf and unicast DNS "problems and challenges" draft to the IESG as Informational
Done Confirm long-lived queries draft as WG document
Done Adopt wide-area service discovery solution draft as WG document
Done Adopt Informational document on the problems and challenges arising for zeroconf and unicast DNS name services
Done Submit requirements draft to the IESG as an Informational RFC
Done Adopt requirements draft as WG document
Done Formation of the WG