2.4.7 Network Configuration (netconf)

NOTE: This charter is a snapshot of the 77th IETF Meeting in Anaheim, California USA. It may now be out-of-date.

Last Modified: 2010-01-12


Bert Wijnen <bertietf@bwijnen.net>
Mehmet Ersue <mehmet.ersue@nsn.com>

Operations and Management Area Director(s):

Dan Romascanu <dromasca@avaya.com>
Ronald Bonica <rbonica@juniper.net>

Operations and Management Area Advisor:

Dan Romascanu <dromasca@avaya.com>

Technical Advisor(s):

Charlie Kaufman <charliek@microsoft.com>

Mailing Lists:

General Discussion: netconf@ietf.org
To Subscribe: netconf-request@ietf.org
In Body: in msg body: subscribe
Archive: http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/netconf/

Description of Working Group:

Charlie Kaufman is Technical Advisor for Security Matters

Configuration of networks of devices has become a critical requirement
for operators in today's highly interoperable networks. Operators from
large to small have developed their own mechanisms or used vendor
specific mechanisms to transfer configuration data to and from a
device, and for examining device state information which may impact
the configuration. Each of these mechanisms may be different in
various aspects, such as session establishment, user authentication,
configuration data exchange, and error responses.

The NETCONF Working Group is chartered to produce a protocol suitable
for network configuration, with the following characteristics:

- Provides retrieval mechanisms which can differentiate between
  configuration data and non-configuration data
- Is extensible enough so that vendors will provide access to all
  configuration data on the device using a single protocol
- Has a programmatic interface (avoids screen scraping and
  formatting-related changes between releases)
- Uses a textual data representation, that can be easily manipulated
  using non-specialized text manipulation tools.
- Supports integration with existing user authentication methods
- Supports integration with existing configuration database systems
- Supports network wide configuration transactions (with features such
  as locking and rollback capability)
- Is as transport-independent as possible
- Provides support for asynchronous notifications.

The NETCONF protocol is using XML for data encoding purposes, because
XML is a widely deployed standard which is supported by a large number
of applications.

The NETCONF protocol should be independent of the data definition
language and data models used to describe configuration and state

However, the authorization model used in the protocol is dependent on
the data model. Although these issues must be fully addressed to
develop standard data models, only a small part of this work will be
initially addressed. This group will specify requirements for standard
data models in order to fully support the NETCONF protocol, such as:

- identification of principals, such as user names or distinguished names
- mechanism to distinguish configuration from non-configuration data
- XML namespace conventions
- XML usage guidelines

The initial work started in 2003 and has already been completed and was
restricted to following items:

  a) NETCONF Protocol Specification, which defines the operational model,
    protocol operations, transaction model, data model requirements,
    security requirements, and transport layer requirements.
  b) NETCONF over SSH Specification: Implementation Mandatory,
  c) NETCONF over BEEP Specification: Implementation Optional,
  d) NETCONF over SOAP Specification: Implementation Optional.

  These documents define how the NETCONF protocol is used with each
  transport protocol selected by the working group, and how it meets
  the security and transport layer requirements of the NETCONF Protocol

  e) NETCONF Notification Specification, which defines mechanisms that
    provide an asynchronous message notification delivery service for
    the NETCONF protocol.  NETCONF Notification is an optional
    capability built on top of the base NETCONF definition and
    provides the capabilities and operations necessary to support
    this service.

  The NETCONF notification specification has been finished now as well.

In the current phase of the incremental development of NETCONF the
workgroup will focus on following items:

1. Fine-grain locking: The base NETCONF protocol only provides a lock
  for the entire configuration datastore, which is not deemed to meet
  important operational and security requirements. The NETCONF working
  group will produce a standards-track RFC specifying a mechanism for
  fine-grain locking of the NETCONF configuration datastore.

2. NETCONF monitoring: It is considered best practice for IETF working
  groups to include management of their protocols within the scope of
  the solution they are providing. The NETCONF working group will
  produce a standards-track RFC with mechanisms allowing NETCONF
  itself to be used to monitor some aspects of NETCONF operation.

3. Schema advertisement: Currently the NETCONF protocol is able to
  advertise which protocol features are supported on a particular
  netconf-capable device. However, there is currently no way to discover
  which XML Schema are supported on the device. The NETCONF working
  group will produce a standards-track RFC with mechanisms making this
  discovery possible (this item may be merged with "NETCONF monitoring"
  into a single document).

  Note: The schema-advertisement material has been merged into the
  NETCONF monitoring document based on WG consensus.

4. NETCONF over TLS: Based on implementation experience there is a
  need for a standards track document to define NETCONF over TLS as an
  optional transport for the NETCONF protocol.

5. NETCONF default handling: NETCONF today does not define whether
  default values should be returned by the server in replies
  to requests for reading configuration and state data. Different
  clients have different needs to receive or not to receive
  default data. The NETCONF working group will produce a
  standards-track RFC defining a mechanism that allows
  NETCONF clients to control whether default data is returned
  by the netconf server.

6. NETCONF implementations have shown that the specification in RFC4741
  is not 100% clear and has lead to different interpretations and
  Also some errors have been uncovered. So the WG will do an rfc4741bis
  following constraints:

    - bug fixes are to be done
    - clarifications can be done
    - extensions can be done only when needed to fix bugs
      or inconsistencies (i.e. we are not doing a NETCONF V2)
    - The work can be started based on the discussion in IETF #73 (see

  Note: A technical errata has been posted on rfc4742. If the work on
  rfc4741bis uncovers any additional fixes/clarifications that need
  to be made to rfc4742, the WG may consider to also do a rfc4742bis
  as part of this work-item.

The following items have been identified as important but are currently
not considered in scope for re-chartering and may be candidates for work
when there is community consensus to take them on:

- NETCONF Notification content
- Access Control requirements
- NETCONF access to SMI-based MIB data

Goals and Milestones:

Done  Working Group formed
Done  Submit initial Netconf Protocol draft
Done  Submit initial Netconf over (transport-TBD) draft
Done  Begin Working Group Last Call for the Netconf Protocol draft
Done  Begin Working Group Last Call for the Netconf over (transport-TBD) draft
Done  Submit final version of the Netconf Protocol draft to the IESG
Done  Submit final version of the Netconf over SOAP draft to the IESG
Done  Submit final version of the Netconf over BEEP draft to the IESG
Done  Submit final version of the Netconf over SSH draft to the IESG
Done  Update charter
Done  Submit first version of NETCONF Notifications document
Done  Begin WGLC of NETCONF Notifications document
Done  Submit final version of NETCONF Notifications document to IESG for consideration as Proposed Standard
Done  -00 draft for NETCONF Monitoring
Done  -00 draft for Fine Grain Locking
Done  -00 draft for NETCONF over TLS
Done  -00 draft for Schema Advertisement
Done  Early Review of client authentication approach (for NETCONF over TLS) with the security community at IETF 71
Done  WG Last Call on NETCONF Monitoring after IETF72
Done  WG Last Call on NETCONF over TLS after IETF72
Done  WG Last Call on Fine Grain Locking after IETF72
Done  Send Partial Locking to IESG for consideration as Proposed Standards
Done  Initial WG draft for with-defaults capability
Done  Initial WG draft for rfc4741bis
Done  WG Last Call on NETCONF Monitoring after IETF73
Done  Submit first WG draft for rfc4742bis
Mar 2010  WG Last Call on rfc4741bis
Mar 2010  WG Last Call on with-defaults
Mar 2010  Send NETCONF monitoring to IESG for approval as Proposed Standard
Mar 2010  WG Last Call for rfc4742bis
Jun 2010  rfc4741bis to IESG for considerations as Proposed Standard
Jun 2010  with-defaults capability to IESG for considerations as Proposed Standard
Jun 2010  Send rfc4742bis to IESG for consideration as proposed standard.


  • draft-ietf-netconf-monitoring-14.txt
  • draft-ietf-netconf-with-defaults-08.txt
  • draft-ietf-netconf-4741bis-02.txt
  • draft-ietf-netconf-rfc4742bis-01.txt

    Request For Comments:

    RFC4741 PS NETCONF Configuration Protocol
    RFC4742 PS Using the NETCONF Configuration Protocol over Secure Shell (SSH)
    RFC4743 PS Using the Network Configuration Protocol (NETCONF) Over the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
    RFC4744 PS Using the NETCONF Protocol over Blocks Extensible Exchange Protocol (BEEP)
    RFC5277 PS NETCONF Event Notifications
    RFC5539 PS NETCONF Over Transport Layer Security (TLS)
    RFC5717 PS Partial Lock Remote Procedure Call (RPC) for NETCONF

    Meeting Minutes


    NETCONF WG Status
    With-defaults capability for NETCONF
    Robust Configuration Management within NETCONF
    Network Access Control Model