Spain says Cisco is currently testing the gateway to find out how and to what degree it can reduce Bonjour discovery traffic. In effect, with the intervening controller, every Bonjour request-response appears to the client device as a local, single-network transaction. Because the controller acts as a proxy for other Bonjour services on other subnets, it can minimize broadcasts, at least in theory.
Cisco also plans to extend one of its existing technologies, called Network Based Application Recognition, to its wireless LAN firmware. For the first time, Cisco WLAN controllers will be able to dissect packets and compare them to a database of about 1,500 application signatures to identify a specific application -- such as a video conference versus a Netflix video, or a Skype voice call -- to be prioritized, blocked, or given bandwidth limits, for example.
And Cisco plans to make its application visibility and control (AVC) technology run over wireless LANs. This software, which identifies applications based on deep packet inspection compared to a catalog of application signatures, has been around for years as part of Ciscos popular ISR routers and other products, especially to optimize relatively slower, shared resources like WAN links. This code is now being embedded on the Cisco WLAN controllers and given yet another Cisco acronym: NBAR, for Network Based Application Recognition.
By being able to see specific applications on the Wi-Fi links, the controller can then apply policies to manage and optimize them. Voice or video applications, which are sensitive to jitter and latency, might be given priority treatment by the WLAN, for example. Or some applications, such as bandwidth-hungry Netflix streaming video, might be blocked; other applications might be given a specific bandwidth allocation.
Previously, Cisco's WLAN firmware had some limited ability to identify applications. But the inclusion of AVC will now make this broader, deeper, and more specific, and allow IT to associate more granular controls on specific applications, according to Spain.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed.
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