In the world of technology, we have all heard the phrase “marketing checklist item.” These are items included in product requirements which someone has added simply because they are the hot buzzword that month. The phrase “marketing checklist item” is used to describe those items which are currently hype and not reality. Even if there really is no use for the feature, it’s included just to say that the product supports it for marketing purposes. It doesn’t matter if it is supported in a useful manner. It just matters that the box exists to check off.
For many years, programmability driven by NETCONF and YANG was a “marketing checklist item.” In the past, programmability was considered a buzzword and something trendy to be included on the network device features list as simply a checklist item. Today, programmability is no longer just a checklist item! Programmability driven by NETCONF and YANG is real and is really being used.
I recently talked about this in another blog post on doing programmability well. As organizations built the requirements for new hardware or solutions, programmability was added as more of a nice-to-have on a marketing checklist of requirements. Most would add this without truly understanding what programmability really means and how it should be done because it wasn’t actually being used. Today, this is no longer the case as more organizations recognize, require, and actually use NETCONF and YANG capabilities to achieve real network programmability and deliver the services and features required to be successful.
As conversations continued, clarity began to grow with what organizations truly need for real programmability. I often go back to a great blog post by Ivan Pepelnjak from 2016 on the requirements needed for network automation. After presenting the need for better automation, he was then asked, “what shall we ask for?” He lays out in a very good way what is actually needed and not simply some meaningless checklist items. I should note that the world has rapidly changed since that blog post was written and the review of device capabilities in 2016 is no longer accurate. However, the requirements for automation are still spot on.
We have seen many RFPs requiring programmability driven by NETCONF and YANG. Initially, this was leading-edge service providers that were asking for and adopting this technology. Then, it was also larger enterprises. Today, it is no longer just service providers and large enterprise organizations; recently we saw an RFP from a US School District that not only asked for automation and programmability at a high level but also got into specifics of supporting NETCONF and YANG. Also exciting is the fact that they also required on-box Python scripting. This means that this cutting-edge school district is not only using programmability in the network, but they are looking to move the same functionality into their devices. When you see smaller users actually using and benefitting from something, you know that it’s real and being accepted. This example shows that the need for programmability driven by NETCONF and YANG beyond service providers and cutting-edge enterprise organizations is now real and actually being used.
The point of all of this is that if you are still using checklists from the past few years, you are missing out and ensuring that your solutions will be lumped into the last generation of products. Without programmability driven by NETCONF and YANG, you leave out features and capabilities and are missing the ability to deliver next-generation networks. Programmability; it’s not just a checklist item anymore!
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