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Making Programmable Networks Easier to Achieve (and for Free!)

- February 18, 2015 - 0 Comments

making programmable networks easier to achieveThe “P” in EPN stands for “Programmable,” as in “Evolved Programmable Network” and Cisco has just made the “P” easier to achieve to help drive services to the cloud. We’ve now contributed Basic ConfD, a free version of our powerful ConfD by Tail-f management agent software to the networking industry. Tail-f joined Cisco last summer and this announcement demonstrates Cisco’s commitment to not only embrace but also drive open standards in the best interest of the entire ecosystem.

What is ConfD you ask? It’s a mature, proven management agent framework with a rich set of APIs for developers of networking devices. Currently in use by over 75 network equipment providers, ConfD has native support for the NETCONF protocol and YANG data modeling language. The no cost Basic ConfD has many features and is available for production use without additional fees for NETCONF. You can pay for an upgraded version that includes a complete set of north-bound interfaces, including CLI, REST and SNMP. Why would Cisco give away ConfD? Because it radically reduces the time and resources needed to develop network management interfaces and applications. Networking vendors can leverage Basic ConfD to more quickly develop products that are fully NETCONF and YANG compliant – and the only way the industry is going to move to the cloud and build the Internet of Everything is if carriers can drastically reduce their provisioning costs and improve their service agility. End-to-end programmable networks based on open standards – such as NETCONF and YANG – can reduce configuration costs by nearly half and that’s good for everyone.

Maybe I’ve lost you at some point… what’s NETCONF and what’s YANG? To make a long story short, the industry (network operators and software developers at equipment vendors) figured out some time ago that SNMP (and a couple of other protocols) failed to include some basic requirements of configuration management. Hence there was an effort in the IETF (RFC3535) to develop a new standard. This led to the NETCONF protocol (published in 2006) and the associated YANG data modeling language (published in 2010). Industry analysts know that it takes roughly a decade for a standard protocol to prove itself and make it into widespread implementation and deployment. We’re now seeing that 10-year period coming to an end with some serious uptake in mainstream implementations and use in production networks. Giving Basic ConfD to the industry will accelerate the process.

We’re also see an increasing number of open source language bindings, clients and server implementations for NETCONF, and more use of YANG as the de-facto language for describing services as evident in activities of the IETF and the Metro Ethernet Forum.

The Tail-f team is enthusiastically supporting the proliferation of NETCONF and YANG in the industry. Since joining Cisco, they’ve have been plotting how to leverage the new runtime environment to put even more momentum behind the effort to make the network programmable.

Want to learn more? We’ve got an amazing lineup of service providers and vendors for our second “NETCONF and YANG Town Hall” meeting at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on March 3, 2015 at the Gran Fira in South Entrance, Level 1 – Room CC1.4. You can register here.

 

Tweet us at @CiscoSP360 for questions or comments.

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