(Network Orchestrators evaluation) : tail-f vs Anuta vs UBIqube vs OpenDaylight

James Bensley jwbensley at gmail.com
Tue Aug 15 07:23:05 UTC 2017

On 10 August 2017 at 02:01, Kasper Adel <karim.adel at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,

Hi Kim,

> This is not a vendor bashing thread.
> We are a group of networking engineers  less experience with software) in
> the middle of the process of procuring a network automation/orchestration
> controller, if that is even a good definition and we are clueless on how to
> evaluate them.

If you don't have much in house software expertise buying an off the
shelf solution with support could be the best bet for you. ODL is
aimed more at somebody who wants to "roll their own" solution as it's
really giving you a unified southbound API to your devices but you
still need to connect with the ODL via its northbound API in order to
orchestrate your tin really fluently. This will require a lot of in
house development work (probably more than you want). Also this is
“just” (albiet a powerful one) an API to your network. It won’t act as
a single source of truth, it’s not a data store, or an IPAM, or an NMS

Anuta seems quite good, of all the ones you listed in the subject line
I'd recommend that one. We had a demo of Anuta NCX and I was pretty
happy with it, it's vendor neutral with support for the big names
already built it an you can write Python plugins to extending support
to any weird vendor kit you might have lurking in a remote dusty PoP,
they also take feature request if enough customers have vendor X
they’ll add support for it. It is also semi-service orchestrated, you
can define “services” yourself and config templates and push them out
to devices. I quite liked it, I'd recommend you get a demo if you want
an off the self-product that is vendor neutral with support. It ticks
those basic boxes (probably more but I can’t remember as we didn’t
choose it – not because it was flawed, it just wasn’t what we needed
for the project we had in mind). Like ODL it is just for mass
configuration and essentially and zero touch provisioning. You need to
glue it to the rest of your OSS stack probably via the API.

Tail-f - seeing as they were gobbled up by Cisco, do you mean whatever
the Cisco product is called now, NSO I believe (Network Services
Orchestrator). We had a meeting with Cisco a while back to arrange a
demo, at the time it was very Cisco focused however I think it has
become more open (in that it is still a closed source product but more
network device vendor agnostic).

Don’t know UBiqube – I’ll have a read up on it, thanks!

> Other than the obvious, which is to try them out, i wonder what else is
> important to consider/watch out for.

As mentioned above, get something with an API, if you have multiple
systems internally for BSS and OSS, try to move towards only having
systems with APIs so that in the long term when say the BSS system
accepts an order it can push an update to your OSS stack which
configure a port on an edge router ready for that customer to connect
to, and connects to your NMS API and pre-emptively starts to graph the
port; all that jazz. Service orchestration is more than just
automating config deployment which some people seem to forgot, or
focus too much on, the service wrap is also very important (after
accepting an order for a new CPE from a customer, and having fired the
order over your suppliers API, in the response from the supplier with
the new CPEs serial number, that needs to go into your asset database
and be marked against that customer and the end site it’s being
shipped to etc). Flexible products with a standardised API.

> We are presented with 3 different vendors and even OpenDayLight was
> considered as the open source alternative.

NAPALM was already mentioned as an open source alternative. If you
want to get your hands a bit more dirty consider Ansible or SaltStack
(both of which can be used with and without NAPALM but generally you
want to use them with NAPALM) as they are both open source and free to
use but you can pay for support.

We also looked at Blue Planet from Ciena, it’s an impressive product
with some big name customers. It also has a big price tag as it’s
really for large deployments. We didn’t go with it because we wanted
to start (very) small trials and build up.

> My humble thoughts are given below and i would appreciate getting
> 'schooled' on what i need to ask the vendors:
> 1) Are they Model driven : But i still don't know how to evaluate that.

By model driven do you mean like YANG models to infer the
configuration state, or model driven from a service perspective? Anuta
NCX, Blue Planet, Tail-F/NSO, ODL all have support for YANG models if
you meant YANG. Anuta and NSO will let you create “services” which can
be config templates that are deployed as a whole and verified, if you
mean “service” model driven.

> 2) Do they parse Cisco/Juniper CLI or they are limited to SNMP and YANG.

If you have IOS devices you NEED a product that supports IOS CLI. IOS
is a pain in the backside to automate and the CLI is the only really
way of doing it sadly.

> 3) If they do parse, we want to check if they'll hold us by the balls if
> the current parsers need to be updated, i.e: can we change the code
> ourselves and add new features to be parsed.
> 4) Can they work/orchestrate between CLI devices and Non CLI devices (SNMP)

Most are supporting multiple transport protocols with the end device,
CLI, API etc. All the ones talked about so far do.

> 5) How flexible are they to support different Vendors (Cisco, Juniper,
> some-weird-firewall...etc)

Another question I would ask would be about event driven updates and
triggers. After pushing out config template X which configured a new
interface on a device, can the system make a call to our NMS API an
add that new interface to our graphing platform (if it’s not already
being graphed). Equally when removing interface config, make an API
call to the NMS to stop graphing it. So that is the system sourcing an
event trigger. Can it also receive them, for ZTP for example?

You may also want to ask about RBAC; most tools have some sort of RBAC
support, for us this is essential in terms of keeping our

> thanks,
> Kim


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