With the advent of software-defined networks (SDN), the industry has shifted toward open concepts hoping to reduce—and ultimately eliminate—the dependency on various function-specific software tools built and maintained by equipment suppliers. One of the main enablers in the effort to accelerate evolution toward open cloud networking and virtualization is the use of development Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

APIs are a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications that specify how software components and services shall interact. A new white paper from Ciena, Leveraging Rich API’s for a New DCI Operational Paradigm, explores development APIs and their benefits for optical networks versus the use of traditional management protocols. Here, then, are five key APIs that we use today to enable the concept of SDN-based virtual networks:

  1. REpresentational State Transfer (REST): A general-purpose application program management interface that provides mechanisms to get or push information to/from network resources. It’s the most widely deployed public API structure for products and Web services and supports autonomous events, such as alarms.
  2. REST CONFiguration (RESTCONF): An HTTP-based protocol and network-aware application program management interface using REST. It allows access to two datastores: Config, which contains data inserted via controller, and Operational, which contains data inserted via the network.
  3. NETwork CONFiguration (NETCONF): A protocol to push and pull XML-encoded data between Element Management Software (EMS) and Network Elements (NEs). It’s designed to modify network configuration and deliver a more capable management and configuration interface than its predecessors.
  4. OpenFlow: A new approach to networking that involves separating the control and data plans to simplify on-switch functionality. It enables low-level, fine-grained control of the forwarding data path and is driven by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).
  5. Google Remote Procedure Call (gRPC): An open-source API initiative created by Google and aimed to call methods on a server application on a different machine as if it were a local object, making it easier to create distributed applications and services.

APIs provide a simple and easy way to manage network resources while ensuring a smooth integration with IT tools and efficient utilization of IT resources. To learn more, download the Ciena white paper below.