NETCONF and YANG; Onwards and Upwards

IETF RFC 3535, with the telling title “Overview of the 2002 IAB Network Management Workshop” has the following text in its recommendations section:

4. The workshop recommends, with strong consensus from both protocol developers and operators, that the IETF focus resources on the standardization of configuration management mechanisms.

This report and its recommendation was the outcome of a number of meetings held over a number of events involving direct dialog between network operators and people developing management software at equipment vendors. The reason for the dialog was the shared understanding that SNMP (and a couple of other protocols) had failed to include what was perceived to be the most basic concepts of configuration management. Concepts that are neatly captured in some detail in the IETF’s highly readable RFC.

This was a starting point for the development of what became the NETCONF protocol (published in 2006) and the associated YANG data modeling language (published in 2010). Industry pundits know that it takes roughly 10 years for a standard protocol to prove itself and make it into widespread implementation and deployment. We are now seeing that 10 year period coming to an end with some serious uptake in mainstream implementations and use in production networks. There are many interesting proof points for any casual observer to follow including:

  • The increasing number of open source language bindings, clients and server implementations for NETCONF
  • The increased uptake in using YANG as the de facto language for describing services as evident in e.g. the activities of the IETF and the MEF
  • The number of times per week NETCONF and YANG is being namedropped by industry analysts and journalists despite getting close to the respectable age of 10

And a blog post is not complete without a self-serving mention. So I’ll just mention that we have an amazing lineup of service providers and vendors for our second NETCONF and YANG Town Hall meeting at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Learn more here.

The Tail-f team can be called veterans around implementing and enthusiastically supporting the proliferation of NETCONF and YANG in the industry. Since our acquisition by cisco, we have been plotting how to leverage our new runtime environment to put even more weight behind these efforts.

Today we’re happy to announce that we will make ConfD, our industry leading NETCONF server implementation, available under a freemium license. We seriously hope that the greater networking equipment vendors and ISVs download and start leveraging this fantastic software. Happy coding!

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