Here are some quick notes from the two days of NETCONF interoperability testing we did this Saturday and Sunday leading up to the (ongoing as this is written) IETF 85 in Atlanta. The NETCONF Protocol RFC is being advanced towards a place on the venerable Full Standard RFCs list. The process of moving a standards track RFC through the two maturity levels (“Proposed Standard” to “Internet Standard”) as described in RFC 6410.
The first level, Proposed Standard, is described as:
A Proposed Standard specification is generally stable, has resolved known design choices, is believed to be well-understood, has received significant community review, and appears to enjoy enough community interest to be considered valuable.
…and the Internet Standards level is described as:
A specification for which significant implementation and successful operational experience has been obtained may be elevated to the Internet Standard level. An Internet Standard (which may simply be referred to as a Standard) is characterized by a high degree of technical maturity and by a generally held belief that the specified protocol or service provides significant benefit to the Internet community.
NETCONF is currently a Proposed Standard, and the interoperability testing is part of trying to meet the criteria to move it to Internet Standard. It is also generally a generally useful experience for the participating implementations to make sure that things work nicely with each other. It is also quite an enjoyable event with interesting discussions and the occasional finding of deviations from specification (a.k.a. bugs).
We had five server implementations, including submissions from us at Tail-f, Juniper, YUMA, and the libnetconf project. We had ten (!) client implementations including submissions from Tail-f, MG-Soft, and Seguesoft. The more detailed report from this event will be published in the IETF Journal but in summary I can at least say that we had good interoperability in that we had all clients talking to all servers in a useful manner. Surprisingly small amounts of catastrophic failures in combination with a healthy amount of discussions around the interpretation of some more exotic parts of the standard. Exactly as we had hoped.
Now, off to the Interface to the Routing System (IRS) WG-forming BoF. Will be interesting to see if the requirements on the eventual protocol will match NETCONF enough that it can be reused. More to come on this surely.