This is an introduction of Tail -f and their NCS product. They did a great demonstration at Network Field Day 7 this year and you can watch this presentation yourself at the Net Field Day 7 site. The videos are high quality and very well done.


There are three things you should know/understand about Tail -f:


1. Founded in 2005, their software ships in networking products from 8 of the top 10 network vendors. Part of their expertise is in the command input/translation components of that software. Why is this important? They have critical insight into the devices you actually want to manage and a proven track record. This isn't some fly by night company with VC funding, just hoping to cash out.

2. Tail -f got SDN before their was an SDN. Their product shares much in common with what we now refer to as a network controller, but was created in 2009. This isn't just some "ME TOO" product, and nor is it vaporware, it is a shipping product to help solve problems you already have, on the hardware you already own. Tail -f is a small company with 100 employees, so they have the agility of a startup with the history of an incumbent.

3. Because Tail -f knows about configuration, they are valuable members of the standards communities. They are active in the YANG, NETCONF, OF-CONFIG, NFV and Openstack.


So what is the value proposition for NCS?


Unified command sets, even across different platforms and even vendors. Focus on what you want to do, not how you want to do it. You choose Cisco or Juniper CLI for the look and feel, and NCS speaks any of the supported configuration on the back-end. This diminishes vendor lock-in. 

Consistent results, verified programatically. This isn't just screen scraping or expect scripts, but based on a full understanding of the configuration of each device.

Roll back configurations

Automation. Leverage that deep device understanding to add automation to your network. Remember, NCS speaks the native language of your devices, CLI for Cisco, Netconf for Junos, etc.

Full HA architecture, with large scale, tens of thousands of devices.

Full Role Based Access Control. Keep junior engineers away from core devices or in a multi-tenant environment to hide other tenants.

VPN configurations, one of the large pain points in Enterprise and Service Provider networks, now you can automate these builds on every major vendors software.

Firewall policy management. Again, multi vendor, Manage an ASA alongside an SRX. Migrate from ASA to SRX. Optimization of rules


As I mentioned, NCS can manage existing gear, not just future Unicorn products (although I'm sure they'll have a plugin for those too). Whose gear?

Juniper, Cisco, F5, Arista, VMWare, Brocade, Paloalto, Alcatel-Lucent, Vyatta, Erickson, and A10 Networks.

That is a pretty comprehensive list, I know that would completely cover the network stack at my current employer.


Take a look at Tail -f and their NCS product.

You can find more information:

The Net Field Day 7 site 

 Packet Pusher's show 81

Packet Pusher's Show 156


AuthorKelly McDowell