Show 81 -Tail-F and Network Configuration Management – Sponsored

Network Configuration is still done by hand. Each engineer types in each command after thirty years of “progress”. Does this seem right to you ? Tail-F systems sponsored today’s show to talk about their Network Configuration System and the advantage of using decent software with good quality tools like NETCONF and YANG to make configuring your network easier than before.

Topics Covered

  • Why did Tail-f move towards addressing the central configuration management solution?
  • What is wrong with existing solutions for managing configuration?
  • What is the NCS product and what is it’s moving parts?
  • What is NETCONF and how does it apply to configuration management and Tail-f solutions
  • Describe the architecture of NCS and how that works with the network
  • What can NCS do that current solutions can’t?
  • What about legacy (non-NETCONF) interfaces?
  • What kind of solutions can NCS be applied to?
  • What kind of solutions shouldn’t NCS be applied to?

About Tail-F

Tail-f has two products. The first, ConfD, is what we’ve been working on since we were founded in 2006. It’s an on-device configuration management soution that provides common management interfaces (CLI, SNMP, Web UI, NETCONF server and REST API) and supporting infrastructure (AAA, transaction management, data store) for all kinds of networking equipment. A large number of equipment providers are using it (including 7 out of the 10 largest) in their products.

The second product, NCS, is what we’re currently bringing to market. It’s a network configuration management software solution that takes a software oriented approach to configuration (as in reading and writing to the routers and switches) management. NCS allows developers to write applications that manipulate the network configuration using a model-driven environment. Early customers use it for things like provisioning of (MPLS) VPNs, managing clusters of load balancers, and managing large BGP policies.

Show Notes and References

Some links to data sheets and whitepapers:

For the ConfD product, used by vendors, information available here: ConfD – for network vendors

Then some more thought-oriented whitepapers around the issues that we see with configuration management:

Tail-F Whitepaper on Enterprise and Network Management Systems doing more than than just Alarms and Maps

Tail-F Systems Whitepaper: EMS and NMS – Beyond Alarms and Maps.pdf

A paper that we are presenting at LISA 2011: Automating Network and Service Configuration

For information about the product we’re bringing to market, NCS: [Tail-F NCS Product Data Sheet] (


YANG RFC – A Data Modeling Language for the Network Configuration Protocol (NETCONF) –

Overview of the 2002 IAB Network Management Workshop:

The goal of the workshop was to continue the important dialog started between network operators and protocol developers, and to guide the IETFs focus on future work regarding network management. This report summarizes the discussions and lists the conclusions and recommendations to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) community.

The NETCONF and YANG Users Group at LinkedIn

A 30 Minute Introduction to NETCONF and YANG

Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count. He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus.
Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro
  • Tim McElwee

    Great job on the Tail-f show. This gets at real issue that the industry must address better and it sounds like the Tail-f guys have the solution.

  • Dan

    On of the best shows recorded here!

  • Jason

     I will be surprised if this makes major traction. Manufactures are keen too add their own secret sauce to differentiate. Even cisco are dumping SNMP and heading to XMLRPC. Do we really need another standard?

    • Anonymous

      Jason, we’ve seen tremendous uptake on the equipment provider side around NETCONF[1] (which is an XML-based RPC protocol, but is not XMLRPC[2]). Juniper, cisco, Brocade, Huawei, Ericsson, etc. Not in all product lines and not in all software versions, but getting there. See the slideshare presentation in the blog post for a more detailed breakdown of who supports what.

      With regards to the secret sauce; I agree, but with network operations teams waking up to the lack of tools for automation in networks in the face of incredibly complex expectations (e.g. carrier ethernet VPNs, workload mobility in data centers) IMO this stands a good chance to shift things around a bit.
      Finally; no, we don’t need another standard. This is the one :-)


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  • Anonymous

    Stay away from confd. Specifically those looking to add this into any networking product. Does not scale and too slow. I know of a networking company looking to get rid of this from their product. Consult and cross check with your peers before you even consider this product.

    • cmoberg


      Sorry to respond so late, I was just made aware of this comment 5 months after it was posted. We’ve yet to be made aware of scaling or speed issues that would make confd the bottleneck of any system. I’d be more than happy to discuss any details with you if you think it useful.