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Followup: (What's wrong with provisioning tools?)

  • From: David Daley
  • Date: Wed Jun 19 15:11:36 2002

Below is a brief summary of the 'tools' and 'requirements' (plus a
couple of unanswered questions) identified in response to my original

Interestingly, no one mentioned next-gen OSS or anything that vaguely
refered to the TMF ( and the work that they've
done over the years breaking down operational problems with network
management systems. I suspect that no one is willing to stand up and be
counted in defense of the tmf approach - at least how it tracks
fulfillment systems - (and unfortunately the countless billions of funds
that have gone into launch and support these companies).

It's worthy to note that RFC3139 also identifies the requirements for IP
configuration management.

Would it be correct then to assume that the divergence between the
operator and the vendor communities identified in the ietf draft (linked
below) is a pointer to the failing of the approach taken by the ng/oss
folks? If this is true, then what possibly is the solution to the
excessive cost of management for todays networks? 


 In fact a very good tool is from DSET called IPSource that can do both
provisioning and configuration management. I suggest you check it out..
rtrmon or rancid can do great config archiving and provide difference
> rtrmon or rancid can do great config archiving and provide difference 
> output.
I didn't find anything that really suited my needs at the time (late
2000/early 2001), so I ended up writing my own archiver. From time to
time I've thought about adding it to the COSI-NMS project on
Sourceforge, but never gotten around to it. I've also other similar
tools outside of Sourceforce, such as Pancho
i like the idea of "talking" with the box while let's say driving a
The first is why aren't operators using even simple config management
tools (Is every single one lacking somehow, or is it operational

The more interesting one, IMHO, concerns operational complexity. It
seems that complexity is really what makes it hard to operate an IP
network -- even with highly skilled engineers -- and is also the barrier
to writing useful network provisioning and configuration software. What
abstractions would make it easier to understand the network and hence
figure out the right configuration changes to make, so software wouldn't
generate config changes that are broken?

David Daley 
+1.905.922.6560 (global) 
Montague River Networks Inc. 

-----Original Message-----
From: David Daley [] 
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 1:38 PM
To: ''
Subject: What's wrong with provisioning tools?

A couple of times during NANOG25, from the floor and from the podium,
it was identified that the tools available for managing networks were
garbage. I was surprised to hear  that even real basics, such as change
control and configuration management, weren't widely adopted. There
definitely seemed to be an acceptance (and perhaps this is only true at
some carriers) that many problems facing providers today are as a result
of a dearth of decent tools to configure 'best common practices' into
the routers - and as a result of this, the 'problems' with the networks
were not with the h/w and/or the protocols they support, but with the
people, and their lack of experience and/or ability to properly
configure the boxes.

A couple of comments that I heard over the last few days:
1) User interfaces are horrible and counter intuitive - I want 'xyz' out
of my GUI
2) Systems blindly apply bad configurations to routers - they should be
able to do 'some' verification before crashing my network - and can't
roll back after they wreck things
3) Change control either doesn't exist, isn't usable, or isn't granular
4) There isn't anything to track non sanctioned changes to the network
(i.e.: hacker induced re-configurations)

I would very much like to hear about "specific" needs for (provisioning)
tools that would satisfy your needs - needs that are either being poorly
met to today, or not at all. In the hopes of preventing a vendor-bash
extravaganza, I would suggest as a point of reference, that the NMS
recommendations presented by Avi Freedman during the conference
("Industry/Government Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment:
Background and Recommendations". Of the recommendations pertinent to
network management, many refer to future-features. As an additional
attempt to constraint the discussion, I would recommend that the needs
identified be realistic (i.e.: supportable on current equipment, the
cost of the solution would be less than the cost of the problem, etc).


David Daley 
+1.905.922.6560 (global) 
Montague River Networks Inc. 

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