Apple Bonjour definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Advanced guide to managing iOS devices
Contributor(s): Colin Steele

Apple Bonjour is a group of networking technologies designed to help devices and applications discover each other on the same network. 

Bonjour is Apple's version of the Zero Configuration Networking (Zeroconf) standard, a set of protocols that allows certain communication between network-connected devices, applications and services. Bonjour is often used in home networks to allow Windows and Apple devices to share printers. Technically, Zeroconf is a group of open Layer 2 protocols for quickly setting up an IP network. The original name of Bonjour was Rendezvous, but Apple changed the name in 2005 after a trademark dispute with a company called Tibco Software.

Bonjour was originally designed to locate Apple devices on a single network with one router, but because it is such a useful tool for network administrators dealing with IT consumerization, wireless vendors are helping to bring Bonjour to the enterprise. Aerohive, for example, has released a free VMware virtual appliance that allows Bonjour to operate across networks on different subnets or virtual LANs. Cisco has announced that it would turn its WLAN controllers into a Bonjour gateway, providing network administrators with policy-based management capabilities BYOD end users.

Bonjour software comes preinstalled on OS X, the Mac operating system, and on iOS, which runs on iPhones and iPads. Some Apple software, such as iTunes and Safari, automatically installs Bonjour on Windows machines.

This was first published in October 2012

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