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PyNet Labs- Network Automation Specialists


Author : PyNet Labs
Last Modified: April 29, 2024 
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In today’s world, there is a pressing need for consistent protocols in network management and automation. Networks are becoming more intricate. CCIE network professionals, along with many others, struggle with the limitations of old management protocols to keep up with the changes. This is where RESTCONF steps in. It is a standard protocol developed to fix the limits of network management protocols like NETCONF.

It provides a better user interface for interacting with network devices. It lets network admins and developers manage and configure network elements. They can do this using a familiar RESTful API. In this blog, you will learn about Cisco RESTCONF, what is it used for? You will also learn its elements along with its pros and cons.

Mastering these advanced protocols requires specialized knowledge and hands-on experience. For those seeking to excel in network automation and configuration, Cisco DevNet Expert training offers a comprehensive curriculum. This program equips network professionals with the skills and tools needed to leverage modern automation solutions like this.

Let’s first understand what RESTCONF is.


RESTCONF is a standard protocol that mainly defines a programmatic interface in order to access as well as manipulate configuration data, operational state data, and event notifications on network devices. It is an evolution of the NETCONF (Network Configuration Protocol), which has been widely used as a network management protocol.

It follows the REST (Representational State Transfer) style, which is widely used in web development and has established itself as a standard for constructing scalable and interoperable applications. It also presents an approach to creating, reading, updating, and deleting network device configurations and operational data through HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, PATCH, and DELETE). This enables network administrators and developers to interact with network devices in a systematic way. It empowers them to automate tasks related to network management and streamline their workflows.

What RESTCONF is used for?

RESTCONF’s versatile nature makes it to be employed in a wide range of network management scenarios. Below, we have discussed some of the use cases.

  • Configuration Management: It allows network administrators to programmatically manage the configurations of network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, and many more. This also includes retrieving, modifying, and deploying configuration changes across the network.
  • Operational Data Retrieval: With its help, you can easily access as well as retrieve operational data from network devices, which includes interface statistics, routing tables, and performance metrics. This data can further be utilized to monitor, troubleshoot, and report purposes.
  • Network Automation: Its programmatic nature makes it the best option for network automation. Network administrators as well as developers can build scripts, workflows, and applications in order to automate management tasks which include device provisioning, software upgrades, and most importantly configuration backups.
  • Integration with Third-Party Tools: It supports a wide range of third-party tools and platforms which include network management systems, orchestration platforms, and cloud-based services. The reason behind this is RESTCONF’s alignment with REST principles.

Let’s discuss its different components.

RESTCONF Components

There are several RESTCONF components that work together in order to provide a better network management solution. Below, we have discussed these components in detail.

Image showing various components of RESTCONF such as Client, Server, Datastore, and Protocol


It is the entity that initiates requests to the server. This can be a network management application, a custom-built script, or can also be any other software that needs to interact with the networking devices.


It defines the communication between the RESTCONF client and the server. It specifies HTTP methods, headers, and media types that are used for various operations as well as the structure and format of the data that has been exchanged.

Network Devices

Network Devices include its Server and Datastore. The network device acts as the server that exposes a RESTCONF-based interface in order to manage its configuration and operational state. The server usually interacts with the device’s internal datastore in order to handle the requested operations.

RESTCONF in Python

Let’s understand its usage in a practical scenario with a Python-based example. In this example, we will make use of the ‘requests’ library in order to interact with a RESTCONF-enabled network device and retrieve the current interface configuration.

A python script using the requests library to interact with a RESTCONF-enabled network device and retrieve the current interface configuration.

This script uses the ‘requests’ library to send a GET request to a RESTCONF endpoint and retrieve the interface configuration in JSON format. The script sets the ‘Accept’ and ‘Content-Type’ headers to ‘application/yang-data+json’, and provides the ‘username’ and ‘password’ for authentication. If the request is successful (status code 200), the script parses the JSON response and prints the interface configuration. If the request fails, the script prints the error status code and message.

The output of the above example will be:

A python script showing the output of the previous script.

Before getting into the advantages and disadvantages, you need to understand the basic difference between it and NETCONF.


Below, we have discussed the basic difference between the two in a tabular form based on different factors.

ProtocolUses XML-based messages over a secure shell (SSH) connectionUses HTTP/HTTPS for communication and JSON or XML for data representation
Data ModelRelies on YANG data modeling languageCan work with various data models, including YANG
OperationsProvides a set of well-defined operations (e.g., <get>, <edit-config>, <commit>) for managing network devicesLeverages the HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) for performing CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations
Transactional NatureSupports atomic, consistent, isolated, and durable (ACID) transactions for configuration changesProvides a more lightweight, non-transactional approach to network management
Vendor AdoptionWidely adopted by network equipment vendors and is a standard for network configuration managementGaining traction, but not as widely adopted as NETCONF across the industry
Use CasesSuitable for complex, mission-critical network configurations that require strict transactional guaranteesSuitable for simpler, more frequent network management tasks and integration with web-based applications

Let’s now discuss its advantages.

Advantages of RESTCONF

Some of the advantages of using it are:

  • Familiarity and Ease of Use: It makes use of REST architectural style and HTTP protocol, which are familiar to most developers and network administrators. This is the reason, it is easier to integrate RESTCONF-based network management into broader IT automation workflows.
  • Improved Scalability: The RESTful nature is the main reason behind its better scalability as compared to old network management protocols.
  • Reduced Complexity: It assists in simplifying network management by providing a more user-friendly interface. This will reduce the learning curve for network engineers.
  • Standardized and Vendor-Neutral: It is a standardized protocol, which means it provides a consistent and vendor-neutral approach to network management.

Disadvantages of RESTCONF

Here are some of its disadvantages:

  • Dependency on Yang Models: It relies on YANG data models in order to define the structure as well as the semantics of the data being exchanged. The availability and quality of these data models can usually impact the overall usability as well as the functionality of Cisco RESTCONF-based solutions.
  • Potential Performance Overhead: The overhead associated with the HTTP-based communication in RESTCONF may be higher compared to more lightweight protocols, especially for high-volume or time-sensitive network management tasks.
  • Limited Vendor Support: It is gaining popularity, but all network device vendors have not yet fully implemented the protocol. This results in limiting the ability to manage a diverse network environment with a single RESTCONF-based solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1 – What is RESTCONF used for?

RESTCONF is a protocol that is mainly used to manage as well as configure network devices and services over RESTful API. It offers a standardized way in order to interact with network infrastructure using HTTP methods and JSON data formats.

Q2 – What is the difference between NETCONF and RESTCONF?

NETCONF makes use of XML-based messages and the RPC (Remote Procedure Call) model. On the other hand, RESTCONF makes use of RESTful API with HTTP methods and JSON or SML data formats.

Q3 – What is the difference between RESTCONF and REST API?

RESTCONF is a specific protocol in order to manage network devices and services. REST API is a more general term for any web service that works on REST (Representational State Transfer) principles.

Q4. What is the difference between RESTCONF and SNMP?

SNMP, or Simple Network Management Protocol, monitors networking devices. On the other hand, RESTCONF is mainly focused on device configuration and management.


RESTCONF is one of the best network management protocols that address the limitations of previous approaches with the use of RESTful APIs and HTTP. It offers a standardized way for network engineers in order to manage monitor, and configure network devices, enabling greater automation, integration, and flexibility in network operations. In this blog, we have discussed it in detail, along with its use cases. We also have explained its use in Python with examples and different advantages as well as disadvantages associated with it.

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