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Zero-configuration networking

(also zeroconf)

Zero-configuration networking definition

Zero-configuration networking (zeroconf) refers to a set of technologies allowing network devices on a local network (such as home or small office) to automatically configure themselves. This eliminates the need for manual setup or a centralized server. Zeroconf was primarily designed to simplify networking tasks for users and reduce the complexity of IT administration.

See also: baseline configuration, configuration file, IoT gateway, autonomic network

What zero-configuration networking can do

  • Automatic IP assignment. Devices assign themselves an IP address if a DHCP server isn't available.
  • Automatic service discovery. Devices can automatically find each other on the network without needing to know each other's IP addresses. This feature allows users to find shared resources, such as printers, file servers, or internet gateways.
  • Name resolution. Devices can resolve each other's names to IP addresses without a Domain Name System (DNS) server. In other words, devices can be called user-friendly names rather than an IP address.

Where zero-configuration networking is used

  • Home networks. Zeroconf is especially useful for home networks where device users are likely less experienced and don’t have a dedicated team managing the network.
  • Small businesses. Small businesses can use zeroconf to help them quickly set up and manage their network and devices.
  • IoT Devices. Zero configuration networking will become increasingly important in the growing IoT market.