Forums: March 2005 Archives

Infrastructures.ORG

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Steve Traugott at Infrastructures.ORG says:

Most IT organizations still install and maintain computers the same way the automotive industry built cars in the early 1900's: An individual craftsman manually manipulates a machine into being, and manually maintains it afterward. This is expensive. The automotive industry discovered first mass production, then mass customization using standard tooling.

Indeed... Most network devices are still configured by hand and manually maintained, with all of the attendant problems (typos, inconsistency of configuration, difficulty making common changes to many systems in parallel, etc.). I'm very interested in taking the same principles that Steve has been codifying and espousing for systems, and applying them to networks.

For the last several years, Steve has been driving this effort, including creating and hosting the Infrastructures mailing list. Their goal is to develop and discuss the

... standards and practices [that] are the standarized tooling needed for mass customization within IT. This tooling enables:
  • Scalable, flexible, and rapid deployments and changes
  • Cost effective, timely return on IT investment
  • Low labor headcount
  • Secure, trustworthy computing environments
  • Reliable enterprise infrastructures

IETF has chartered a Network Configuration Working Group (NETCONF) to "produce a protocol for network configuration". (More details in the full blog entry; click the "Continue reading..." link below.)

Their focus seems to be on defining a protocol to supplant SNMP (a worthy goal, in my opinion; SNMP has proven largely unworkable for network configuration, although it has been useful for network monitoring), but they're intentionally punting on the underlying data model to use to describe how the network ought to be configured (which I think is at least as challenging a problem).

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