NETCONF on Cisco Campus Switches on Software Gone Wild

During Cisco Live Europe (huge thanks to Tech Field Day crew for bringing me there) I had a chat with Jeff McLaughlin about NETCONF support on Cisco IOS XE, in particular on the campus switches.

We started with the obvious question “why would someone want to have NETCONF on a campus switch”, continued with “why would you use NETCONF and not REST API”, and diverted into “who loves regular expressions”. Teasing aside, we discussed:

  • How you can get structured operational data (in XML format) from Cisco IOS XE devices.
  • What ConfD is doing behind the scenes.
  • How SNMP MIBs will live forever, even if it’s only in XML-in-NETCONF format.
  • Why you’d use NETCONF and not SNMP to read operational data.
  • What is Open Network Plug-and-Play and how it works
  • The bright future of Python on the Catalyst switches.

In between the technical discussions we touched on high-level points including:

  • Who would want to use network programmability on campus switches and why?
  • Can you automate troubleshooting if you have structured operational data?
  • What software release do you need to get these goodies?

Finally, Jeff sent me this explanation to make sure you understand the exact details of the new NETCONF agent on Cisco IOS XE:

  • YANG-ified SNMP MIBs, as mentioned, were the first operational models;
  • Then we had some models using screen scraping;
  • Models with direct access to native device data structures are coming, but not yet released.

To get more details, listen to Episode 75 of the Software Gone Wild podcast.

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