The Advantage Tail-f Has Developing NCS

There wasn’t a single Networking Field Day 7 session that didn’t at least touch on software defined networking or SDN. Tail-f was the first vendor who presented and told us about a network management product that could play a significant role in a Software Defined Network.

The product of focus was NCS  or Network Control System. It is an orchestration system for the network. Think of NCS as a CLI that can control the network as a whole. Moreover, it can present the entire network with a Cisco or Juniper style interface regardless of what underlying hardware vendor is utilized. This product also offers a web interface and supports various northbound and southbound API’s.

Anyone that has attempted to build such a solution understands that there are several challenges. There are different protocols and syntax used for configuration. When looking at something like a Cisco CLI, it is quickly obvious that the command syntax is only loosely structured. The syntax also changes over time and often without warning. This is where Tail-f has a unique advantage.

The Tail-f Advantage

So what exactly is Tail-f’s advantage? The Tail-f advantage in this realm is their inside knowledge of popular management interfaces. Their inside track is a result of their other product which is known as ConfD. This product is customized and sold to many major vendors to be used as the management interface for their network devices. During the introduction, Carl Moberg made the following statement when speaking of ConfD–

If or when you log into ‘kind of’ next generation or current generation hardware from some of the very large vendors, you will wind up in Tail-f software.

This statement can be heard about 2:22 into the introductory presentation below.

Introduction to Tail-f and NCS from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.


My point is that interfacing with a loosely structured and changing management interface presents challenges. Having inside knowledge of current and future caveats for a particular interface is a great place to be for a company that develops a product like NCS. While I find it interesting, I haven’t had an opportunity to evaluate NCS. However if I can get my hands on an evaluation copy, I may post some additional thoughts on what seems to be a fairly useful product.

Networking Field Day 7 Links

Disclaimer: Travel and other associated expenses related to attending vendor sessions have been covered by the sponsoring vendors through GestaltIT. In some cases vendors may choose to provide delegates with marketing materials (cups, pens, tshirts, etc). Any deviation the site-wide disclaimer will be clearly noted at the end of the applicable article(s).

About Paul Stewart, CCIE 26009 (Security)

Paul is a Network and Security Engineer, Trainer and Blogger who enjoys understanding how things really work. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Paul has helped many organizations build, maintain and secure their networks and systems.
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