Networking Research

Successful NETCONF Interoperability Testing Announced at IETF 85

By: Bert Wijnen

Date: March 1, 2013

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During 3–4 November, prior to the IETF 85 meeting, several implementers of the NETCONF protocol came together to do interoperability testing. We employed five NETCONF servers (devices or systems to be configured) and 10 NETCONF clients (programs to obtain and send configuration data to and from devices or systems). Figure 1 shows how clients and servers traditionally interact. The configuration data is based on a YANG data model.

Tests were done to ensure and demonstrate interoperability between all the implementations. Interoperability between genetically different implementations is one of the requirements in IETF in order to advance a protocol on the standards track. Also, interoperability tests help implementers identify any bugs in the code and any ambiguities in the IETF RFC specifications. In short, these tests help fix implementations and specifications.

The participants and the system configurations that they contributed for testing were as follows:

  • CESNET and libnetconf’s client and server example implementations (all were open source)
  • Jacobs University and a NETCONF client (open source)
  • Juniper and a NETCONF server and a test suite (client)
  • MG-SOFT and a NETCONF browser (client)
  • SegueSoft and a NETCONF browser (client)
  • Tail-f and a NETCONF server and three clients (one was open source Java)
  • YumaWorks and two NETCONF servers and two clients (one server and one client were open source)

We concluded that there does exist a robust set of interoperable implementations—meaning, we have met that requirement for advancement on the standards track and can confidently promote throughout the industry that NETCONF is mature and stable for further and wider deployment.

In addition, we report demonstrated interoperability for the following NETCONF RFCs:

  • RFC 6241, Network Configuration Protocol
  • RFC 6242, Using the NETCONF Protocol over Secure Shell
  • RFC 5717, Partial Lock Remote Procedure Call for NETCONF
  • RFC 5277, NETCONF Event Notifications
  • RFC 6243, With-defaults Capability for NETCONF

For RFC 6536, Network Configuration Protocol Access Control Model, we are continuing testing remotely.

We reported the initial results at the NETCONF working group (WG) session at IETF 85 in Atlanta. Download the report at

We asked the WG if, based on our report, they would support that we compile a complete report, including deployment reports, and if we may request advancement on the standards track. They offered sufficient support and no objections, and confirmed as such on the WG mailing list.

Next step is to request advancement on the standards track, based on the conditions from RFC 6410.