Network Configuration and Management

Network Management Challenge

Networks, connectivity and mobile access are evolving, growing exponentially in volume and scope, with spectrum extending from large corporate and telecom networks to connectivity between thousands of “constrained devices”, including Machine-to-Machine (M2M) automation networks and sensor-based, data gathering and analysis networks, described as the Internet of Things (IoT).

The computing networks increasingly take shape of large multi-campus installations, providing applications, storage and connectivity services, often via multi-tenant cloud architectures.

All networking sectors require Internet & mobile connectivity, demanding security, instant remote configurations, monitoring and network management. The challenge is in carrying these concepts across different networking architectures, levels of computing, connectivity and memory resources while retaining some commonalities in application APIs to provide an effective foundation for automation and sophisticated management applications of networking infrastructure, services and information.

Private, Carrier & Constrained Device Networks

The size and complexity of today’s networks are evident, from volumes of specialized function boxes in carrier networks, and the complexity of network applications to connectivity intelligence in just about any device that produces information or requires receiving configuration and command data in IoT networks.

Applications are far-reaching and expanding, from business, services and carrier applications to industrial, energy, medical, building automation, smart cities, transportation, dynamic consumer analysis, logistics sector, to name a few; the mandate is creating intelligent eco-systems providing desired data and application services and automatically responding to events, reporting systems status to management applications or adjusting environment to evolving conditions, all in line with a pre-configured policy.

Software-Defined Networks & Network Function Virtualisation

Responding to complexity, to provide reliable service and manageability, networks are changing, adopting new architectures. These are taking cues from modern computing environments with regards to virtualization. This capability improves server and network storage availability, it provides for rapid provisioning of services in demand, and it can adapt and scale network connectivity and capacity to changing applications and use patterns.

The virtual networking architecture’s promises to make “the dream of wire once and use forever” possible … 🙂 … It is the approach that re-makes the network connectivity on-demand, making it software configurable, in an application & usage adaptable fashion.

SDN and NFV Industry Initiatives

  • Software Defined Networks (SDN) Project at the ONF (Open Networking Foundation) – a complementary approach, conceives the decomposition of networking equipment into a Control Layer and a Forwarding, Datapath Layer, where the Control Layer offers software APIs that deal with the real time management of flows in the forwarding plane (OpenFlow protocol) and provides for remote configuration of datapath resources, via remote configuration protocols, allowing for increasing bandwidth and connectivity where and when it’s needed.

  • Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) Project at the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) – potentially simplifies the physical network infrastructure by moving away from many specialized devices to fewer standard Servers, Storage, Core & Edge Switch devices while implementing network functions in software, an attractive proposition for carriers.

  • Linux Foundation (LF) Open DayLight Project – a collaborative SDN / NFV Open DayLight project is supported by numerous networking vendors and industry groups.

  • Linux Foundation (LF) Open Platform OPNFV Project – an open source OPNFV Project focused on creation of an NFV reference platform accelerating new products and services.

  • Interface to the Routing System Working Group – the I2RS group of IETF (the Internet Engineering Task Force) is developing an SDN strategy that aims to balance the routing decision between central controllers and field proven routing protocols, running across the network’s hardware devices.

Management & Orchestration (MANO) Initiatives
Service, Network & Device Configuration Models & Protocols

Multiple vendors and several next generation open networking architecture projects have selected the IETF’s YANG data modeling language and NETCONF, RESTCONF and / or gRPC based configuration protocols as their technology base for automation of network service configurations, device configurations and operational management. An excellent overview of these concepts is provided in the informational rfc6244, An Architecture for Network Management Using NETCONF and YANG.

Similarly, the management protocols of IoT and M2M constrained devices space, Constrained Application Protocol and CoAP Management Interface, were selected for efficient access to data contained in the YANG Datastores of such devices. These web protocols are simplified versions of the web HTTP transport protocol and RESTCONF programmatic interface. The CoAP / CoMI protocols have been designed to use the minimum resources of their networking and embedded environments, solving a unique system architecture and design challenges.

The industry drive is toward open, vendor-neutral, service and device YANG data models, software APIs and tools that would enable automation of configuration and network management, thus help increase reliability and flexibility of networking services, while lowering operational costs and enabling new business models for network operators.

The list below is a summary of relevant standards and industry wide development projects:

NuDesign Product Direction

NuDesign provides its OEM customers with software applications, code generation tools and development libraries oriented on building of secure management, configuration and monitoring agents for servers and embedded systems.

The company has invested into migration from legacy SNMP and CLI only interfaces, to supporting integrated and synchronized, YANG based, configuration, control and monitoring solutions that adopted NETCONF / RESTCONF / SNMP / CLI / Web protocols, with gRPC based Network Management Interface (gNMI) protocol as a future add-on option*.

NuDesign’s ndCONF Agent Development Studio current release is based on the NETCONF rfc6241 and YANG 1.0 rfc6020 (with NMDA rfc8342, YANG 1.1 rfc7950 and YANG Library, rfc8525 upgrades on the roadmap). It contains the extensible YANG Datastore Server, with datastore extension providers built and instrumented from the source YANG modules, using NuDesign Studio’s code generator ndCONF Builder.

The YANG Datastore Server can be deployed with any combination of NuDesign’s protocol specific Access Agents (NETCONF, CLI, SNMP and / or RESTCONF), providing an OEM device with a well integrated ndCONF Agent for remote configuration and monitoring applications, exposing required multiprotocol interfaces to provisioning and management applications (with future gRPC / gNMI Access Agent enabling telemetry monitoring applications).

The ndCONF’s product architecture and the development roadmap also provide for extensions to NETCONF / YANG standards, such as support for NETCONF publish / subscribe push technologies for Telemetry and Monitoring applications, as well as support of automated delivery of configuration data via implementation of Call Home technology.

NuDesign’s YANG based tools produce modern management agents that can deploy any YANG model, standard or vendor’s based: IETF’s, OpenConfig, other standard bodies, while enabling additions of vendor-specific features via their own sub-agents or via YANG permitted augmentations of standard models.

The approach aims to protect the customer’s management software investment, it secures continuity and integration between generations of management applications and networking product families, it provides for co-existence and transition of existing CLI configurations and SNMP monitoring infrastructure to a new generation of management applications that support NETCONF / RESTCONF / gRPC YANG based automated configuration and operational processes, regardless of origins of their networking gear.

The company also continues evolving its present secure SNMPv3 products for Windows and Linux Servers and embedded devices for use in present server and embedded markets.

* gRPC / gNMI / gNOI are a subject of an internal engineering project, being evaluated for their applicability to configuration applications and Streaming Telemetry, operational network data gathering and monitoring for various analytics applications.

Learn more…

To review and for selection of NuDesign’s YANG based NETConf, SNMP, CLI & RESTCONF development tools please review NETCONF & YANG Development information.

To review and for selection of NuDesign’s MIB based SNMP & CLI development tools please review SNMP & CLI Development information.