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The Network Configuration protocol (NETCONF) is a network management protocol that enables management stations to monitor and configure network elements. Using XML encoding, NETCONF defines a set of operations for retrieving and modifying data from a device.

NETCONF is designed to have the following characteristics:

  • Atomicity—Each transaction is atomic and cannot be divided. A transaction either succeeds or fails. If part of a transaction fails, the entire transaction fails.

  • Consistency—The database is always consistent. All changes that are allowed to take place in the database are valid and compatible. Only successful transactions modify the database. Failed transactions do not modify the database in any way.

  • Isolation—Transactions are isolated from each other. Only one transaction can apply to the database at any time. When multiple transactions are issued, the network element applies them sequentially.

  • Durability—Committed data is stored in persistent memory that survives network element restarts and power outages.

Figure 1 shows a representation of how NETCONF can be conceptualized.

Figure 1: NETCONF Layers

The Secure Transport layer provides a secure and reliable connection for in-order delivery of NETCONF messages. An example of a secure transport protocol that meets NETCONF requirements is SSH. Support for NETCONF over SSH is mandatory.

The Messages layer provides an RPC-like communication model to frame NETCONF requests and responses over the reliable transport provided by the Secure Transport layer. In the network receive direction, network data is read and delineated into NETCONF messages to present to the Operations layer. In the network transmit direction, RPCs from the Operations layer are framed and passed down to the Secure Transport layer for transmission.

The Operations layer provides the set of management primitives for retrieving and modifying NE data. This layer defines NETCONF protocol operations.

The Content layer consists of NE data represented by YANG modules. To allow ease of management, YANG modules clearly distinguish between NE configuration data and NE operational data.

Figure 2 shows the communication connections between a management station and a network element.

Figure 2: Management Station to Network Element Communication Using NETCONF
Management Station to Network Element Communication Using NETCONF

The management station (NETCONF client) connects to the network element (NETCONF server) using a secure transport protocol. There is one connection for retrieving and modifying NE data, and one or more connections for notifications. When subscribing to notifications, the NETCONF client specifies the events of interest, and the NETCONF server sends matching events to the NETCONF client asynchronously when those events occur. Only subscribing clients receive notifications.

The BTI7800 automatically accepts NETCONF session requests from authenticated users. No configuration is necessary to set up NETCONF on the BTI7800.