Manageability Imperatives (3 of 3): Solution Must Provide Ability to Add New Interfaces Along the Way

This the third in a series of three blog posts on important imperatives for network equipment provider development teams to consider when planning for, and designing on-device configuration management systems. Each post states a claim and expands on the subject with some background, context and ties it into features and benefits of our ConfD product

This post claims that Solution Must Provide Ability to Add New Interfaces Along the Way

BACKGROUND: There are multiple phases in the lifecycle of a network equipment product line. The first release is usually focused on beta or pre-launch objectives with the bare minimum of features needed to support initial customers. As the lifecycle of the product progresses and customer trials turn into operational deployments, the expectations for manageability increase and product management needs to meet these challenges in a timely fashion to survive into large scale production.

Real life reasons for adding or extending management interfaces include:

  • Adding a Web UI for better sales demos and then enhancing it to meet the real needs of non-technical users
  • Adding a NETCONF interface to meet the requirements of large service providers that want to automate
    configuration changes
  • Adding a RESTful API to meet the requirements of enterprise or cloud environments that wants to cater to common management platforms

IN THE CONTEXT: For development teams this means that the initial implementation of basic management features must be extensible without negatively affecting product stability or delaying functional enhancements. In traditional stovepipe architectures adding new interfaces and extending existing ones requires time-consuming and tedious recoding. In addition, there is often a significant impact on the instrumentation code base adding to the overall risk of delay associated with any large code change.

FEATURE: ConfD is built on a data model-driven architecture that generates the northbound interfaces based on models written in the YANG language. Developers use the combination of a centralized data store and transaction managers to model and integrate managed objects only once independent of the number of active northbound interfaces on the system. This allows the team to cater to rapidly changing requirements from product management with minimal impact on the code base.

BENEFITS: It is common for at least one and sometimes three management interfaces to be added during the life of a networking product. ConfD enables developers to add and extend management interfaces faster and with fewer resources than any other technology. In addition, ConfD’s common software backplane eliminates configuration and operational inconsistencies across different management interfaces.