Getting Inside RESTCONF

As more enterprises look to create programmable data center environments they look to find various ways to create programmability. To date, NETCONF has been the protocol of choice. However, there has been growing interest in finding alternate approaches based on REST APIs. This approach makes sense as many traditional enterprise IT programmers have little background in NETCONF and incorrectly believe there to be a steep learning curve to use NETCONF libraries and tools effectively. However many are very familiar with REST APIs making it popular in the enterprise IT world mainly as application APIs to access Web services and also for configuring web services and network elements.

Today, programmers can use REST to address southbound network elements in the same way they use REST to call other types of resources. Yet, there hasn’t been a single, standard implementation. The result is the recently standardized RESTCONF [RFC8040] protocol.

RESTCONF has become the latest addition to the NETCONF/YANG network programmability ecosystem. Programmability is typically based on data models defined in YANG. Service providers have used NETCONF as the protocol of choice to access and manipulate YANG data for the management and configuration of network elements in large-scale service provider environments. However, as REST APIs gain momentum RESTCONF has become the alternative approach to programmability.

RESTCONF is not intended to replace NETCONF but is never the less useful in some cases where the simplified view of the NETCONF datastores, transactions and its REST-like fulfills the need of the application. RESTCONF use cases include SDN controller integration, application automation, and operations support system/business support system (OSS/BSS) integration.

With this in mind, I have developed a new whitepaper “Inside RESTCONF” to provide an in-depth review of RESTCONF and how it can be more effectively used in network equipment development strategies. The paper introduces a technical approach to RESTCONF features, resources and methods with the goal of helping expand its use. My goal is to expand the readers’ knowledge of leveraging this standard and how delivering more choices and flexibility requires both uses of RESTCONF and NETCONF. You can access this whitepaper by clicking on the image or link below.

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