Service providers urgently need to address configuration management as one of the last and unautomated frontiers of network management. Operational costs are rising, and service providers are also struggling to deploy new services in the network in a timely manner. Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are promising technologies that may provide solutions in the future, but service providers need a means of abstracting and automating their existing physical networks and making them more "programmable" today.
NETCONF is a stable standard for writing network configurations, with outstanding features for automating sequences of configurations and driving out the costs associated with manual manipulation of devices. These features include domain specific knowledge, support for transactionality and vendor device independence.
NETCONF's associated data modeling language, YANG, provides vendors with a formal and precise way of modeling physical and/or virtual device functionality and provides service providers with a means of formally expressing their services, which can be directly mapped onto devices without the need for human intervention.
This enables a programmatic approach to configuring all the devices associated with a service, which can considerably shorten the time to provision.
Together, NETCONF and YANG provide a superior solution to other approaches that attempt to read and write configuration data using existing protocols, such as SNMP or REST APIs.