ZebM: Model-based SDN/NFV Element Management

29th Jun 2015

ZebM reduces the time and resources needed to develop network management applications, enabling developers to quickly develop feature rich management services.

At the top of the diagram below, the block labeled EMS/OSS and the terminal icon represents higher-level management systems end user operators. They are the consumers of the management interfaces presented by the device through ZebM. Moving inside the ZebM block, the top layer is the North Bound ZebM management interfaces which are auto-generated by the Toolchain, based on a XML Data Model.

ZebM: Model-based SDN/NFV Element Management

NETCONF and SNMP are popular machine-to-machine and machine-to-human device management protocols which are enabled by ZebM. Command Line Interface (CLI) and WebUI are Human-to-Machine interfaces. The “Other” block represents the possibility to add other management interfaces beside the ones provided by some programming. The ZebM framework is Model Driven. This means that ZebM automatically generates all the management interfaces from a data model. A default rendering of each interface is produced automatically without any programming at all, and is based only on the model. If this model is updated, that change is automatically reflected in all management interfaces.

Another key capability within ZebM is the support for Transactions. Most of the northbound interfaces provide transaction-safe configuration changes. This greatly simplifies the operator’s use of the devices. All Northbound management interfaces share one set of common Northbound Interfaces functions called the CML APIs Engineers can avoid the tedious re-engineering efforts required by legacy vertically coupled architectures.

CLI – rendering engine is one of the key capabilities of ZebM Toolchain. Using just the XML data model as input, ZebM renders CLI interfaces that are required by network engineers. It can generate Cisco like CLI that is Transaction aware, support rich command editing with tab-completion, create “show” commands, history, hints and help.

NETCONF – this protocol supported by ZebM, and is used in Software Defined Networking (SDN)/NFV contexts. ZebM supports the full NETCONF specification. In the middle there is the ZebM Common Management Layer (CML) Engine. This block represents the core and contains key functionality of the ZebM framework. CML Engine picks up any changes to the model automatically and translates any existing contents in the transactions, so any configuration change either happens completely or nothing is changed in the data store. The in-memory model makes all validation, CLI tab-completion etc. execute quickly.

The CML Database is a transactional, ACID compliant database where the schema is composed of the XML generated models. The database and the CML transaction engine are tightly connected. This removes the burden from application developers to understand and implement transactional integrity. The CML Engine also manages AAA, i.e. Authentication, Authorization and Accounting/Auditing. The list of users and their passwords or cryptographic tokens can be kept in the CML, in the underlying operating system, e.g. PAM, in remote Radius/Tacacs+/LDAP etc. servers or a combination of this. Fine- or coarse-grained access control rules can be defined per group/role and users can be assigned to roles/groups. Looking “southbound”, at the bottom of the diagram, you find the South Bound application interfaces for customer specific applications.

Software-Defined Networking Readiness

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) readiness means that the network devices are fully compliant to support network-wide service and application programmability. Network engineers want networking devices with programmable interfaces. ZebM includes the industry-leading implementation of the NETCONF protocol and YANG modeling language to ensure that all changes are made consistently across all network devices. With ZebM, all devices within the service provider environment should be capable of participating in network-wide transactions.


  • Model-driven approach to managing
  • Traditional nodes
  • NFV Virtual Appliances
  • Open Flow nodes
  • SDN ready – OF-Config Enabled
  • Industry-leading implementation of NETCONF protocol and YANG modeling language
  • Auto-generation of NETCONF, SNMP, CLI and other interfaces
  • Auto-render management interfaces from single data model
  • All management interfaces have common API layer
  • Integrated database
  • Transaction Management
  • Scalable Performance
  • Flexible and Extensible

ZebM: Model-based SDN/NFV Element Management 2