The advent of business technology beyond the 10-key and the fax machine enabled a whole new world of efficiency and progress. Computer technology, network infrastructure and unified communications brought a whole new realm of capabilities, yet only set the stage for a whole new generation of solutions. With access to cloud-based solutions and web-scale networking, the boundaries have all but been removed.
One area of progress that put control back in the hands of the company is that of the Application Programming Interface (API) as it enables the acceleration of evolution toward open cloud networking and virtualization. Those with their own developers can enable technologies according to their own specifications. Equipment suppliers no longer called the shots and software-defined networks (SDNs) enabled open concepts.
As highlighted in a recent Ciena blog, the SDN is the key to the puzzle of how to eliminate dependency on various function-specific software tools that are built and maintained by equipment suppliers. With APIs, developers have access to a set of routines, protocols and tools necessary for building software applications that specify how software components and services will interact. While traditional management protocols are limiting, APIs enable the development of optimal networks that leverage web-scale networking.
In a recent white paper, Ciena highlights the benefits of using APIs compared with traditional methods. The company also shares five key APIs used today to enable the virtual network based on SDN technology. Let’s examine Ciena’s list:
- REST – also known as REpresentational State Transfer, REST is a general-purpose application program management interface designed to provide the mechanisms necessary to get or push information to or from network resources.
- RESTCONF – the REST CONFiguration is an HTTP-based protocol and network-aware application program management interface leverages REST and allows access to two datastores: Config contains controller-inserted data; and Operational, which contains network-inserted data.
- NETCONF – NETwork CONFiguration is a protocol to push and pull XML-encoded data between Network Elements and Element Management Software. This API is designed to modify network configuration and deliver a better management and configuration interface.
- OpenFlow – to simplify on-switch functionality, this approach to networking involves the separation of the control and data plans. This API enables fine-grained, low-level control of the forwarding data path, driven by the Open Networking Foundation.
- gRPC – the Google (News - Alert) Remote Procedure Call is a Google-created open-source API initiative aimed to call methods on a server application on a different machine as it if were actually a local object. This approach makes it easier to create distributed applications and services.
As the focus on efficient integration and optimal processes continues to expand in the market, companies investing in web-scale networking are paying attention to the availability of APIs. It may make sense to check out what Ciena has to offer in the process.
Edited by Maurice Nagle