NFDX - Cisco IOS XR - ZTP

2 minute read

Recently, I attended the NFD Exlusive with Cisco Service Provider in Silicon Valley, as part of Tech Field Day. One of the segments which was discussed was around Cisco IOS XR, which I wrote about last year Bringing DevOps to Routing – Cisco XR. And as I was last year, I am still very interested in this platform. There are so many possibilities. This article highlights some ZTP functionality discussed. And hands down, Akshat Sharma did an outstanding job presenting.

ZTP

This time around it seemed like the focus was around ZTP (Zero Touch Provisioning), which they also discussed last year. As we all know, ZTP is not anything new. One thing that is new, is that ZTP is supported over the management, data, and production ports. This allows ZTP to function without an out of band network if needed. They are definitely adding a lot more functionality in this area for sure.

The diagram below outlines the IOS-XR Boot Process with iPXE and ZTP:

IOS-XR Boot Process with iPXE and ZTP

The diagram below outlines the available ZTP functions:

ZTP Functions

GISO

Golden ISO (GISO) workflows.

With GISO you are able to create custom built ISO’s which can include base configurations and packages to be installed. Third party applications are also supported. This functionality allows the similar ZTP workflows to be accomplished by using the ISO to boot the device from. One thing that was not discussed or asked was whether the boxes can boot remotely from an ISO to make this process not such a manual one. I need to dig into this a bit more to understand the possibilities here.

The GISO tool can be found here

Model-Driven ZTP Automation

Yang API hooks

In the upcoming release of 7.0.1, Yang-APIs using netconf client local to the box. No port is required to be opened up on the box because everything is done from localhost. Typically when you configure switches using NetConf, ports are required to be opened when starting up the NetConf agent. Cisco is calling this “transport free” due to the fact that no ports are needed to be opened up. I have to be honest, I am still not clear on the benefit of this from an automation perspective. I need to dig into this a bit more as well. I assume, that you can SSH to the box and leverage the NetConf client locally, but…

gNMI/gRPC

gNMI is coming soon in which you will be able to use gNMI clients local to the box to perform configurations.

Access Deployments

Access deployment security considerations were covered in fairly good detail. Due to the nature of the deployments being performed over unsecure networks for the most part, validations of the ZTP workflows are absolutely crucial. The last thing one would want, is your fleet of IOS-XR devides to get owned. So, ensure to implement as many validations that you possibly can to ensure that an image you are pulling down via ZTP, is 100% valid.

Conclusion

Overall, this session was great, as this is the most exciting networking platform for me from Cisco. There are just so many possibilities that this platform provides.

DISCLAIMER: I have been invited to Network Field Day Exclusive with Cisco Service Provider by Gestalt IT who paid for travel, hotel, meals and transportation. I did not receive any compensation to attend NFD and I am under no obligation whatsover to write any content related to NFD. The contents of these blog posts represent my personal opinions about the products and solutions presented during NFD.

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