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Cisco Donates Tail-f's Leading Management Agent Software to the Industry

February 19, 2015

Through the years it has been fashionable to bash vendors for keeping their gardens walled, especially those with large market shares in key markets who try to use their proprietary solutions as a means to keep competitors away.  This has been true regardless of the ICT sector (computing, storage or networking) and unfortunately everyone has done it.  However, with the rise of Open Source and other types of communal efforts that enable all boats to rise when the tide comes in, it appears that lessons have been learned and even embraced. 

I say this is recognition that none other than Cisco has announced the contribution of Basic ConfD, a free version of its powerful ConfD management agent software, as they say with the purpose, “To accelerate the adoption of programmability for the broader networking industry. “ Tail-f, now part of Cisco, provides two popular products, ConfD and NCS. And, NCS, a multi-vendor network service orchestrator for traditional and virtualized networks will become part of the Cisco branded portfolio under the name Cisco Network Service Orchestrator enabled by Tail-f.

Just how much Cisco (pardon the pun) has gotten the program can be seen in how it is describing why it is making these capabilities available.  They state that: “By implementing an end-to-end programmable network based on open standards, service providers can reduce configuration and management costs by nearly 50 percent over a five-year period, while having the agility to easily add new services.  Today's announcement about the future of Tail-f ConfD, demonstrates Cisco's commitment to advancing open standards in the best interest of the networking industry.” 

Basic ConfD is available now and can be downloaded from the Tail-f website. The software is made available with an unlimited, perpetual license.  This is a very nice offer considering that ConfD is a mature, proven management agent framework with a rich set of APIs.

It is popular and this will likely enhance that popularity. ConfD is being used by more than 75 network equipment providers, and most importantly provides the industry-leading implementation of the NETCONF protocol driven by the YANG data modeling language.  Cisco is following a well worn path here by offering a rather feature-rich free version with the option of course to purchase a premium version that includes a complete set of north-bound interfaces including CLI, REST and SNMP.

"We continue to see strong demand from networking vendors, as they sharply ramp up their efforts to provide standardized programmatic interfaces to their virtual or physical network devices," said Fredrik Lundberg, director of strategy and planning, Cisco's cloud and virtualization group. "ConfD dramatically reduces the time and resources needed to develop network management interfaces. Networking vendors leverage Basic ConfD to rapidly develop products that are fully NETCONF- and YANG-compliant."

On the occasion of the announcement, Cisco also provided comments from some important and impressed users.  Jeff Finkelstein, Director of Network Architecture, Cox Communications commented that: "As we increase the number of services provided by cable MSOs over our networks, we want to reduce the complexity of the service enablement, fulfillment, management and operational ecosystem. With NETCONF as the management protocol and YANG as the modeling language, we may now have the building blocks to create scalable and maintainable catalogs using elastic and programmatic network elements, without needing to significantly increase investments in legacy BSS and OSS systems."

Ihab Tarazi, Chief Technology Officer, Equinix said: "Tail-f's implementation of NETCONF and YANG is a fundamental enabler of Equinix's ability to drive network and service agility for cloud providers and their enterprise customers. Making Basic ConfD freely available will accelerate market adoption and realization of the benefits of NETCONF and YANG, paving the way for us to develop and our customers to more easily integrate highly-advanced services and solutions based on the two."

This is another of a growing series of instanced that are validating what was a big trend in 2014 and will be a bigger one in 2015, i.e., that open source and open for business are mutually inclusive. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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