What an experience at NSO Developer Days 2018 in Stockholm

I recently attended the NSO Developer Days at the historic Vasa Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden. The Vasa Theatre was built in 1886 and has for many years been Stockholm’s main private theatre for comedies and farces.  It was certainly an interesting location for a technical event.  It was a 3-day event for the NSO Community and was well attended by 270+ orchestration practitioners from all over the world.  It was exciting to see the NSO communities continued growth and how the community gives back to its members through shared experiences of their network automation journey.  The first day of the event ended with a dinner cruise to the Vaxholm Fortress way out into the Stockholm archipelago aboard the Waxholm III ship. The second day continued with the nautical theme with an amazing dinner at the Vasa Museum. If you are ever in Stockholm, these are both must-see events.

In addition to numerous main sessions throughout the 3, there were also dual-tracks with both basic and advanced topics tailored to audiences with different experience levels.  There were sessions on NSO specific features and topics presented by Tail-f engineers and NSO customers on lessons learned and their network automation journey.  It certainly hasn’t always been easy sailing for organizations that have internal resistance throughout their network automation journey.  With network automation, there is now a shift in service providers from needing only network engineers to a mix of network engineers and network programmers or just purely network programmers.  Everyone has benefited from the faster time to service activation and revenue and a network that is much easier to operate and maintain.  There were also interesting discussions on strategies for dealing with out of band changes, or configuration changes that happen outside of NSO.

It was also great to see that many service providers have deployed NETCONF/YANG based devices on their network using NSO.  This has reduced the need to develop adapter codes called NED when deploying them with NSO.  This has allowed NSO to take full advantage of the transaction capabilities of these NETCONF based devices and network-wide transactions.  This is ultimately the fastest way to activate a service by the service providers.

I also had the great opportunity to present a session on Device Programmability being the key enabler for Network Automation.  I have conducted a poll on the level of proficiency of NETCONF & YANG from the audience at the beginning of my session.  Out of a scale of 0 to 5, there was an average proficiency level of 3.2 out of 81 responses.  We have certainly come a long way for NETCONF & YANG to be this widespread and well known. I focused on the need to have a standards-based API across all layers of the network for managing multi-vendor equipment using software as opposed to network engineers or operators.  Not only will this result in time and cost savings and reduction of human error, it also provides much-improved error handling and easier troubleshooting.  NETCONF/YANG is the best standards-based API available today as the programmable interface to the devices on the network.  In fact, it was commented by an NSO customer in the audience during a presentation in one of the main sessions that why would anyone consider using other less capable APIs, including gRPC, for their devices.  It is not sufficient to have a programmatic interface at the service orchestration and SDN controller layer for interfacing to the OSS.  To have a fully automated network, it is just as important to have a programmatic interface using NETCONF/YANG at the network device layer to interface with service orchestrators and SDN controllers.

If you want to see the presentations from this year’s NSO Developer Days you can get access here.

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