Network Services Orchestrator Network Element Drivers Data Sheet

Data Sheet

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Updated:February 3, 2021

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The documentation set for this product strives to use bias-free language. For the purposes of this documentation set, bias-free is defined as language that does not imply discrimination based on age, disability, gender, racial identity, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality. Exceptions may be present in the documentation due to language that is hardcoded in the user interfaces of the product software, language used based on RFP documentation, or language that is used by a referenced third-party product. Learn more about how Cisco is using Inclusive Language.

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Exceptional Multivendor Support through Network Elements Drivers

Cisco® Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) provides a single pane of glass for orchestrating a multivendor network. To offer support for an exceptional range of multivendor devices, it uses Network Element Drivers (NEDs). Traditionally, device adaptors are a major roadblock, since they cannot be upgraded at the same pace as device interfaces, and adding support for new devices can take months. Cisco NSO NEDs, in contrast, are either generated automatically from the device YANG model, or can add new commands and devices in a matter of weeks. Using NEDs, NSO makes device configuration commands available over a network wide, multivendor Command Line Interface (CLI), APIs, and user interface. In addition, NSO services, like VPN, can configure a complex multivendor network.

NED overview

Network element drivers comprise the network-facing part of NSO. They communicate over the native protocol supported by the device, such as Network Configuration Protocol (NETCONF), Representational State Transfer (REST), Extensible Markup Language (XML), CLI, and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

NEDs in Cisco NSO

Figure 1.       

NEDs in Cisco NSO

Drivers are rendered based on a Yet Another Next Generation (YANG) data model, which provides several benefits:

      Drastically shortened development and update cycles: In other systems, adaptors are normally handcrafted. In NSO, however, the NEDs are rendered from a YANG data model that can automatically generate the corresponding commands, such as CLI commands. Typically adding new commands to an existing NED takes a couple of weeks, and creating a new NED takes six to eight weeks. This may however vary with the size and complexity of the configuration.

      If the device offers a NETCONF/YANG interface then no development is required, as the NED can be generated automatically from the device model. In this case there is no charge for the NED, so integration is free!

      Uniform data model across the network: Across the NSO interfaces and APIs, it appears as though all devices support YANG, although the underlying mechanism can be CLI or REST, for example.

      NSO NEDs also provide transactionality for nontransactional devices. The NSO transactional engine can drive the NEDs to do atomic changes and rollback on failure, even when a device has no native support for transactions. Transactional behaviour significantly reduces the volume of code, cost of development and maintenance, and time to market for your service applications.

Table 1.        Snapshot of available NEDs

Cisco and third-party NSO NEDs


Cisco DCNM

Coriant SDNTC

Overture 5K

Accedian NID

Cisco ESA

Datacom DM

Overture 6K


Cisco GSS

F5 BigIP

Palo Alto Networks Panos


Cisco IOS & IOS XE

F5 BigIQ

Procera PLOS

Affirmed Acuitas

Cisco IOS XR

Fortinet FW

Quagga BGP AOS

Amazon AWS

Cisco ME1200


Redback SE

Arista EOS

Cisco ME4600

Huawei iManager

Riverbed Steelhead

Avi Vantage

Cisco Meraki

Huawei VRP

Secure64 SourceT


Cisco NXOS

IDirect Pulse

Sumitomo EPON

Brocade Ironware

Cisco PNR


Telco Systems Binox

Brocade NOS

Cisco QPS

Juniper JunOS

Unix Bind

Ceragon IP10

Cisco SMA

MRV Optiswitch

VmWare Vcenter



Nokia OmniSwitch

Vyatta VC

Ciena ESM

Cisco UCS

Nokia SAM


Ciena SAOS

Cisco WAAS

Nokia SR


Cisco Aireos

Cisco WSA

OneAccess OneOS



Citrix Netscaler



Cisco ASA

Clavister COS

Overture 1400


Note that the NEDs listed in Table 1 is a subset of those available as of July 2017. New NED types are added every month resulting from customer requests.

Table 2.        Features and benefits



Multivendor library

Orchestrate the Cisco network, as well as all other major vendors.

Rendering from data models

Turn around new or updated NEDs in days or weeks.

YANG data models

Abstract vendor protocols for significantly faster service definitions and OSS integrations.


Reduce error handling.

Low cost of device integration

NETCONF/YANG NEDs are generally free, and NEDs for legacy protocols are sold at a fixed price without recurring development charges.

Multivendor service agility

Cisco NSO enabled by Tail-f simplifies the process of provisioning and controlling applications and services in both physical and virtual networks. It decouples network services from specific components, while automatically configuring the network according to the service specifications.

Few other products on the market can perform network service orchestration with the multivendor capabilities supported by the NEDs. Real networks are always a mix of vendors. To reduce cost and introduce new capabilities, this mix is constantly changing, and devices are upgraded. If an orchestrator cannot address these changes, the network very soon degrades.

Because the list of NSO NEDs is constantly growing, the Cisco NSO allows true multivendor service agility as changes are implemented, today and in the future.

Cisco environmental sustainability

Information about Cisco’s environmental sustainability policies and initiatives for our products, solutions, operations, and extended operations or supply chain is provided in the “Environment Sustainability” section of Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report.

Reference links to information about key environmental sustainability topics (mentioned in the “Environment Sustainability” section of the CSR Report) are provided in the following table:

Sustainability topic


Information on product material content laws and regulations


Information on electronic waste laws and regulations, including products, batteries, and packaging

WEEE compliance

Cisco makes the packaging data available for informational purposes only. It may not reflect the most current legal developments, and Cisco does not represent, warrant, or guarantee that it is complete, accurate, or up to date. This information is subject to change without notice.

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