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Streaming Telemetry with Cisco’s IOS-XR: A Packet Design How-to

Streamed real-time telemetry is enabling a new approach to network management. It is important to note that telemetry does not mean analytics. Sometimes vendors confuse the two by presenting beautifully formatted data as analytics. Telemetry informs analytics and both are essential to create adaptive software-defined networks. As our CEO Scott Sherwood has said, “There is no SDN without real-time analytics.”

Streaming telemetry is useful in traffic optimization, monitoring and troubleshooting, predictive analytics, etc., all of which are requirements for the latest SDN applications. Here is a tutorial on how to enable streaming telemetry in IOS-XR.

According to a NASA report, telemetry is “an automated communications process by which measurements and other data are collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring.” In streaming network routing telemetry, data is streamed from devices continuously with efficient, incremental updates. Operators can subscribe to the specific data items they need, using YANG data models as the common structure and interface.


IOS-XR 6.0.0 onwards supports streaming telemetry. Telemetry can be enabled using the policy file and configuration. Following is an example configuration to enable HeadSignallingCounters for MPLS TE.

IOS-XR supports two encoders: JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and GPB (Google Protocol Buffer) encoders. The JSON encoder is packaged with the IOS XR software and provides the default format for streaming telemetry data. To configure the GPB encoder a metadata file is required in the form of a compiled .proto file. A .proto file describes the GPB message format, which is used to stream data.

The policy file that has to be uploaded for the above configuration will look like this:

Once configured and verified in the router using the ‘show telemetry policies’ CLI command, the streaming telemetry receiver will start receiving the data at the frequency configured in the policy file.

An example JSON message for HeadSignallingCounters looks like this:

The Packet Design SDN Platform uses real-time telemetry for its analytics. These analytics plus user-defined policies enable intelligent orchestration of network resources and services via SDN controllers.

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