NETWORKING

  • 02/18/2015
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Cisco Launches Free Tail-f Software

With free version of Tail-f's software supporting the NETCONF protocol, Cisco says it's committed to promoting open standards for network programmability.

When Cisco acquired Swedish software startup Tail-f Systems last June, it raised a few questions, namely: How committed would Cisco be to Tail-f's open, standards-based architecture?

On Wednesday, the networking giant rolled out a free new tool that company executives say answers that question. Basic ConfD is a free version of Tail-f's ConfD software library used by Cisco and competing network equipment providers for building on-device management features. ConfD implements the Network Configuration (NETCONF) protocol and YANG modeling language to enable network programmability and SDN.

Many service providers are now demanding their vendors provide a NETCONF interface, said Fredrik Lundberg, Tail-f's former CEO, who is the director of strategy and planning for Cisco’s cloud and virtualization group. "Now that Cisco is offering it for free, it will be a big thing for the industry to get access to a standardized protocol that is actually designed for programmability," he said in an interview.

Basic ConfD shows that Cisco is serious about maintaining Tail-f's open, multi-vendor strategy, he said: "This clears those question marks and changes them into exclamation points."

The free version of ConfD is the same as the premium version, except that it only supports the NETCONF northbound interface, Lundberg said. The supported, premium version includes other interfaces, including CLI, REST and SNMP.

More than 75 network equipment providers use ConfD, including seven of the top 10 providers, according to Cisco.

After Cisco acquired Tail-F for $175 million last year, it continued to sell ConfD to competitor customers and held internal discussions about what to do with the product, Lundberg said. The free version is designed to accelerate adoption of NETCONF and YANG among service providers.

Tail-f's other product -- its NCS multi-vendor network orchestration software that got most of the attention at the time of the acquisition -- will be renamed Cisco Network Service Orchestrator enabled by Tail-f. The NCS platform is based on NETCONF.

Natalie Timms, an independent networking consultant, former CCIE program manager at Cisco, and Network Computing contributor, provided an introduction to NETCONF in a blog post last year. Basic ConfD appears to be a useful tool for those wishing to become more knowledgeable about NETCONF and YANG, she said in an email interview.

"You could do some basic deployment, as the basic version name suggests, but for anything more in-depth and also requiring monitoring capabilities -- think production environment -- you would definitely need to pay for the real tool," Timms said.

However, the tool is a positive step for Cisco and shows that it's willing to "share" the Tail-f technology, she said.

"I think Cisco realizes that there is a transition occurring from closed hardware systems with proprietary OS that provided network services to this idea of software-led solutions," Timms added.  "A common way to represent data is not a new concept; MIBs have been around forever. What we are seeing here is a way to leverage a tool that allows vendors to still innovate and offer their own value-add; and if they choose, this can be more easily customized by YANG and deployed via NETCONF."

Basic ConfD is available with an unlimited license for download from the Tail-f website.


Comments

NETCONF

In case you miss the link embedded in the article -- Natalie's post from last year http://www.networkcomputing.com/networking/netconf-introduction-to-an-em... is a really good introduction to NETCONF.

Re: NETCONF

Marcia, great article about Cisco's future intentions, I feel that the market has moved onto a point where it could be suicidal to charge a price for a general purpose tools. Microsoft is in a similar situation in the consumer space and there has been a lot of talk that Windows 10 will be free on a general level (all because of the open source market). However, extra functionality will still be on paid bases.

It creates a wonderful dynamics as well. For instance, as a greater number of open source network automation tools advance, large companies provide matching tools for free and sometimes, with a little bit more functionality for free. Then, the open source ecosystem takes some time to match the functionality of these tools. And, so forth.

Re: NETCONF

Good point about the dynamics Brian. Natalie touched on that as well in my email interview with her: "Cisco must ensure the underlying mechanisms and models used by ConfD are maintained, revised and published, but it won't control the destiny of other vendors in terms of new innovations and how these are translated to ConfD."

Re: NETCONF

You only need to look at Microsoft to see how the market has changed, there was a time when the new Windows OS would mean queues down the street, but nowadays the launch means very little to the consumer.

Re: NETCONF

Right, and I don't think the Windows 8 debacle helped. No Start button but a Charms menu? Ugh. I read that Charms is gone in the upcoming Windows 10.

Re: NETCONF

I am running Windows 10 on a PC and its really good and you get a start button too!

Re: NETCONF

That's good to hear the Start button is back! Are you running the Windows 10 Technical Preview?

Re: NETCONF

Yes I am running the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a PC that was originally running Windows 7 and there are some interesting features.

Re: NETCONF

BTW: The new Start button is much better than the older version, with more features, such as tiles etc.

Re: NETCONF

That sounds intriguing. The tiles in Windows 8 were sort of irritating, but perhaps Microsoft found a way to make them more useful via the Start button?

Re: NETCONF

I agree, I am not a fan of Windows 8, but I really think that Microsoft have made some interesting changes to Windows 10 making much more functional.

Re: NETCONF

David,

That is a fair statement to make.

Windows 10 is a great-great improvement over Windows 8(and it kinda lives upto the MSFT standard of messing up one Generation before delivering a Good OS in their next version)-Remember Disasters like Windows Me,Vista ,etc???

 

Re: NETCONF

So far I am liking Windows 10, there have been no issues even though it took around three hours to install from start to finish.

 

Re: NETCONF

David,

Linux is Linux after all.

Is'nt it?

 

Re: NETCONF

@david_allen    I am still waiting on my free upgrade.   Running Windows 8 now, so maybe there is hope.  I doubt it but maybe.

Re: NETCONF

Check out the Windows 10 Technical Preview on the windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-download webpage for more information. 

Re: NETCONF

ClassC,

There is also hope!

Evveryone loves a Freebie!

Its just a different matter that eventually MSFT wil go broke if they keep handing out upgrades to everyone happily!

LOL!

After all Developers everywhere also need to Eat ! Don't they?

Re: NETCONF

"You only need to look at Microsoft to see how the market has changed, there was a time when the new Windows OS would mean queues down the street, but nowadays the launch means very little to the consumer."

David, this is because customers are happy and comfortable with latest/previous versions. If they are fed up with previous versions, obliviously they may eager for the next releases.

Re: NETCONF

I dont know about that, I think a lot of it is down to hype and desire, consumers have a need to be the first with the latest products etc

Re: NETCONF

"I dont know about that, I think a lot of it is down to hype and desire, consumers have a need to be the first with the latest products etc"

David, that's true. Customer satisfaction and usability is the end word

Re: NETCONF

The trouble is there are a lot of businesses that do not take that into consideration, which is a shame.

Re: NETCONF

"I think a lot of it is down to hype and desire"

Desire? That must be why I still run Windows 7 (where I have to run Windows) ;-)

 

Although, I do like the idea that a sucky product makes people really eager to buy the next release in the hopes that it fixes all the annoyances. Microsoft made this work with Windows Vista -> Windows 7, and clearly they're laying the same wager with Windows 8 -> Windows 10, or as I like to call it, Windows OS/X.

 

 

Re: NETCONF

The way you put sounds like they are doing it on purpose! Surely a company like Microsoft would not go so low! LOL!

Re: NETCONF

jgherbert,

I have serious doubts that this pre-existing notion/tendency of MSFT will last for much longer going ahead.

Seeing how badly PC sales have fallen in the last 3-4 years its quite clear that MSFT needs to do more if they still want to stay involved in the Technology Game.

 

Re: NETCONF

I just love that we're all obsessed with Windows 10, when the article was about Cisco and Tail-f. *grin*

I'm not sure quite what to make of that. Maybe it means beyond Windows 8 having bombed so badly that everybody is desperate for something new? 

 

So back to tail-f. I think one of the things mentioned was that while the core will be maintained, individual vendors can then tweak it and enhance it, but that may not be folded back ito the core. That begins to sound a little bit like  Android, doesn't it? Is that a good or a bad thing?

 

Re: NETCONF

I think that its a good thing, but then again I have been wrong before, but being able to tweak it and pass it on gives us more choice.

Re: NETCONF

David,

More Choice is usually a good thing(if it comes to more Quality).

What happens however if you have a thousand Different flavors of a software none of which is updated/upgrade regularly?

How do you deal with the situation then?

I would rather not have to deal with such a sceanario going ahead.

The ability to tweak and pass on changes to the Open Source Community is a great thing in theory;in practice hardly anybody does it!

Look what happened with the Developers who were supposed to prevent Vulnerabilities which lead to Heartbleed & Shellshock exploits for example.

Even the really famous folks (like the German guy Werner Koch)-www.propublica.org/article/the-worlds-email-encryption-software-relies-o...

Re: NETCONF

jgherbert,

LOL! Guess it has everything to do with How Ubiquitous Microsoft/Windows is in the Enterprise today.

Is'nt it?

I have a feeling it has more to do with most Business people just focussed on making things work/Happen.

We don't want to be upgrading just for the sake of Upgrades now do we?

As far as your response regarding Tail-f goes here-

So back to tail-f. I think one of the things mentioned was that while the core will be maintained, individual vendors can then tweak it and enhance it, but that may not be folded back ito the core. That begins to sound a little bit like  Android, doesn't it? Is that a good or a bad thing?

 

I have a feeling that as long as Cisco takes ownership of the Parent process and Main Forks we will be okay.

However,if somewhere down the line Cisco decides to jettisonthe whole Software Development,upgrade,patch process over to the Open Source Development/Enthusiast community that's when the Whole Problem starts.

Does'nt it?

As far as Forking in Android goes-Nobody expects any of the other Flavors of Android(apart from the one from Google) to be upgraded Regularly;so does it really matter that much?

 

Re: NETCONF

Cisco is doing good but even they have seen revenue drop over a year, although Cisco has been working hard for SDN strategy which seems to be resonating well with customers, also Forbes shares that company signed on over 150 number clients and grew its pipeline to almost 1,000 customers during the quarter.

Re: NETCONF

"Cisco is doing good but even they have seen revenue drop over a year, although Cisco has been working hard for SDN strategy which seems to be resonating well with customers, also Forbes shares that company signed on over 150 number clients and grew its pipeline to almost 1,000 customers during the quarter."

Virsingh, the revenue drop is due to tough market competition. Eventhough the volume of service/product sales may be high in graph; in certain cases revenue may drop due to competition. They are forcing to do the business with a limited margin.

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

Competition is just one part of the deal.

The Other is that they are increasingly drawing blanks in Russia,China and Brazil because of NSA Spying Concerns(and other Geopolitical reasons).

These factors help explain why their Business in Asia have seen such massive declines YoY.

 

Re: NETCONF

"Competition is just one part of the deal. The other is that they are increasingly drawing blanks in Russia, China and Brazil because of NSA Spying Concerns (and other Geopolitical reasons). These factors help explain why their Business in Asia have seen such massive declines YoY."

Asish, may be you are right. When they found their business is dull or in dead-lock situation, they may try different ways to get out of that. Just like looking for breathing space.

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

You will be surprised to note that is actually happening today and in ways one can't even imagine.

Thats also one of the major reasons why they are aggressively collaborating with Research Institutes and other Companies which are Headquartered in these so-called "Enemy" countries.

Might as well make some money in any way they can?

 

Re: NETCONF

"You will be surprised to note that is actually happening today and in ways one can't even imagine. Thats also one of the major reasons why they are aggressively collaborating with Research Institutes and other Companies which are Headquartered in these so-called "Enemy" countries. Might as well make some money in any way they can?"

Asish, survival is important than anything. They may find different ways for that. 

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

Fair enough statement made by you here.

Just wonder why they are'nt more open and transparent about this(and rather prefer to stay hidden behind the fake cloak of patriotism)???

 

Re: NETCONF

"Fair enough statement made by you here. Just wonder why they are'nt more open and transparent about this(and rather prefer to stay hidden behind the fake cloak of patriotism)???"

Asish, they may have "n" number of business reasons to defend. Most of the companies are lagging in transparency. They won't disclosure things either with their employees or stake holders. When something goes wrong; murmuring starts. 

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

You may be right here(regarding Lack of Transparency Initiatives in place at most Fortune 500 Firms).

But then I feel they should simply take a Leaf out of the most Corrupt Institution in America(maybe even the world);Where Corruption is Institutionalized as an Art Form-The US Congress.

The Members of the US Congress don't care a bit about the all pervasive Corruption inside it.

They have just changed the Name for it to something less Negative called as "Lobbying".

In the US Congress they don't do any murmuring when things go wrong-They just clamp down on all Avenues of Information to the Ordinary Public.

Sad but true reality of the America of today.

 

Re: NETCONF

"You may be right here(regarding Lack of Transparency Initiatives in place at most Fortune 500 Firms). But then I feel they should simply take a Leaf out of the most Corrupt Institution in America(maybe even the world);Where Corruption is Institutionalized as an Art Form-The US Congress."

Asish, corruption is corruption, irrespective of everywhere it happens and how. For simplifying they can be wrap with various nick names, that's all. 

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

Corruption is just a fact of life in most Countries Globally.

In fact when someone tells me there is no corruption in their Country I usually do a Double-take.

LOL!!!

 

Re: NETCONF

"Corruption is just a fact of life in most Countries Globally. In fact when someone tells me there is no corruption in their Country I usually do a Double-take.LOL!!!"

Asish, you are right. it's a global thing but the amount of corruption can varies between different countries.

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

Absolutely correct!

What usually varies (between Various Countries) is whether Corruption is at Lower levels or just at High Levels or all-over.

IN my Personal Opinion,I prefer Countries where Lower Level corruption(which usually impacts the poorest the most) is non-existent.

As far as whether the Top Is corrupt(or not);well you always get the chance to chose amongst different options every 4 years or so(atleast in Most Democracies).

 

Re: NETCONF

"Absolutely correct! What usually varies (between Various Countries) is whether Corruption is at Lower levels or just at High Levels or all-over. IN my Personal Opinion,I prefer Countries where Lower Level corruption(which usually impacts the poorest the most) is non-existent. As far as whether the Top Is corrupt(or not);well you always get the chance to chose amongst different options every 4 years or so(atleast in Most Democracies)."

Asish, when everyone (bureaucrats & politicians) becomes part of such corruption, there is no choice even at democratic nations. Only thing is we can rotate the faces at regular intervals.

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

I would'nt be so pessimistic .

In fact more than ever today thanks to the Whatsapp,Twitter and Facebook revolution ongoing today I feel more encouraged about Genuine,Participative Democracies than ever before.

Think about it rationally,would a Buearacrat/Politician dare to indulge in corruption when he/she knows every citizen around has a smartphone which can record everything?

I don't think so.

And so I am very-very encouraged about today's Grassroots Participatory Democracy.

More than ever before.

 

Re: NETCONF

"In fact more than ever today thanks to the Whatsapp,Twitter and Facebook revolution ongoing today I feel more encouraged about Genuine,Participative Democracies than ever before. Think about it rationally,would a Buearacrat/Politician dare to indulge in corruption when he/she knows every citizen around has a smartphone which can record everything? I don't think so. And so I am very-very encouraged about today's Grassroots Participatory Democracy. More than ever before."

Asish, good keep it up and atleast moving a single figure from our end is good. With respect to recording the corruption; finally what will happen? It will be in media for a certain time and thereafter new /fresh allegations can get replaced. Nobody is going to be either punish or penalized

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

I understand your frustration.

Believe me;you are not the only person who feels like that(there are times when I also feel similarly).

But then,I realize at the end of the Day if everyone turned Pessimistic all Hope would be lost in this world and it definitely would not be a place worth living in.

Would it?

Even if one positive person makes a small amount of change today;the cascading effect Globally is enormous.

After all,it just takes one pebble to cause a Ripple across a Pond.

Does'nt it?

 

 

Re: NETCONF

"I understand your frustration. Believe me;you are not the only person who feels like that(there are times when I also feel similarly). But then,I realize at the end of the Day if everyone turned Pessimistic all Hope would be lost in this world and it definitely would not be a place worth living in."

Asish, am not frustrated. I just mentioned about what's happening with media and political peoples. Am least bothered about all such issues.

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

I can't change everyone around me.

And I don't expect to either.

If only one person changes that is good enough for me personally.

Its good to be sceptical but not overly so also.

Change has to come from within first .

 

Re: NETCONF

"I can't change everyone around me. And I don't expect to either. If only one person changes that is good enough for me personally. Its good to be sceptical but not overly so also. Change has to come from within first ."

Asish, now you becomes more philosophical and its true to an extent too.

Re: NETCONF

"Even if one positive person makes a small amount of change today; the cascading effect Globally is enormous. After all, it just takes one pebble to cause a Ripple across a Pond. Does'nt it?"

Asish, I don't believe in that. Small ripples wont makes any changes in ocean.

Re: NETCONF

MyNet,

I respect your sentiments entirely.

Just trying to make a small change in my own way everyday.

Will it cascade or not across the country? That is for a higher power to decide.

What I do know (with certainty) is that I feel good about being a small part of that Positive change.

That's what matters most to me personally.

 

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