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NDK Operations#

When NDK application is installed on SR Linux it interfaces with the NDK service via gRPC. Regardless of programming language the agent is written in, every application will perform the following basic NDK operations (as shown in Fig. 1):

  1. Establish gRPC channel with NDK manager and instantiate an NDK client
  2. Register the agent with the NDK manager
  3. Register notification streams for different types of NDK services (config, lldp, interface, etc.)
  4. Start streaming notifications
  5. Handle the streamed notifications
  6. Perform some work based on the received notifications
  7. Update agent's state data if required
  8. Exit gracefully by unregistering the agent
Fig 1. NDK operations flow

To better understand the steps an agent undergoes, we will explain them in a language-neutral manner. For language-specific implementations, read the "Developing with NDK" chapter.

Creating NDK Manager Client#

NDK agents communicate with gRPC-based NDK service by means of remote procedure calls (RPC). An RPC generally takes in a client request message and returns a response message from the server.

First, a gRPC channel must be established with the NDK manager application running on SR Linux1. By default, NDK server listens for connections on a unix socket unix:///opt/srlinux/var/run/sr_sdk_service_manager:500532 and doesn't require any authentication. NDK app is expected to connect to this socket to establish gRPC.

    participant N as NDK app
    participant S as NDK Manager

    N->>S: Open gRPC channel
    Note over N,S: gRPC channel established
    create participant MC as NDK Manager Client
    N-->>MC: Create NDK Manager Client
    activate MC
    Note over MC: NDK Manager Client<br/>interacts with SdkMgrService

Once the gRPC channel is set up, a gRPC client (often called the stub) needs to be created to perform RPCs. In gRPC, each service requires its own client and in NDK the SdkMgrService service is the first service that agents interact with.
Therefore, users first need to create the NDK Manager Client (Mgr Client in Fig. 1) that will be able to call RPCs of SdkMgrService.


In the proto files and the generated NDK documentation the NDK services have Sdk in their name. While in fact NDK is a fancy name for an SDK, we would like to call the client of the SdkMgrService the NDK Manager Client.

Agent registration#

With the gRPC channel set up and the NDK Manager Client created, we can start using the NDK service. The first mandatory step is the agent registration with the NDK Manager. At this step NDK initializes the state of our agent, creates the IDB tables and assigns an ID to our application.

    participant NMC as NDK Manager Client
    participant SDK as SDK Manager Service
    NMC->>SDK: AgentRegister
    SDK-->>NMC: AgentRegistrationResponse

The registration process is carried out by calling AgentRegister RPC of the SdkMgrService. A AgentRegistrationResponse is returned (omitted in Fig. 1) with the status of the registration process and application ID assigned to the app by the NDK.

Subscribing to notifications#

Remember we said that NDK Agents can interact with other native SR Linux apps? The interaction is done by subscribing to notifications from other SR Linux applications with NDK Manager acting like a gateway between your application and the messaging bus that all SR Linux applications communicate over.

For example, an NDK app can get information from Network Instance, Config, LLDP, BFD and other applications by requesting subscription to notification updates from these applications:

    participant App as NDK App
    participant NDK as NDK Service
    participant IDB as Messaging bus<br/>IDB
    participant LLDP as LLDP Manager
    App->>NDK: I want to receive LLDP notifications
    NDK->>IDB: Subscribing to LLDP notifications
    LLDP-->>IDB: LLDP event
    IDB-->>NDK: LLDP event
    NDK-->>App: LLDP event

Let's have a closer look at what it takes to subscribe to notifications from other SR Linux applications.

Creating notification stream#

Prior to subscribing to any application's notifications a subscription stream needs to be created. A client of SdkMgrService calls NotificationRegister RPC providing NotificationRegistrationRequest message with the op field set to Create and other fields absent.

Other values of Registration Request operations field

NotificationRegistrationRequest message's field op (short for "operation") may have one of the following values:

  • Create creates a subscription stream and returns a StreamId that is used when adding subscriptions with the AddSubscription operation.
  • Delete deletes the existing subscription stream that has a particular SubId.
  • AddSubscription adds a subscription. The stream will now be able to stream notifications of that subscription type (e.g., Intf, NwInst, etc).
  • DeleteSubscription deletes the previously added subscription.

NDK Manager responds with NotificationRegisterResponse message with the allocated stream_id value. The stream has been created, and the subscriptions can now be added to the created stream.

Adding subscriptions#

With subscription stream allocated we can proceed with adding one or more subscriptions to it. SdkMgrService service offers NotificationRegister RPC to add subscriptions to the stream. The RPC uses the same NotificationRegistrationRequest message (step 4 in Fig. 1) as we used to create the stream, but now with the following fields set:

  • stream_id set to an obtained value from the previous step
  • op is set to AddSubscription
  • one of the supported subscription_types according to the desired service notifications. For example, if we are interested to receive Config notifications, then config field of type ConfigSubscriptionRequest is set.

NotificationRegisterResponse message (step 5 in Fig. 1) is returned and contains the same stream_id value and now also the sub_id value - a subscription identifier. At this point NDK application indicated its intention to receive notifications from certain services, but the notification streams haven't been started yet.

Streaming notifications#

Requesting applications to send notifications is done by interacting with SdkNotificationService. As this is another gRPC service, it requires its own client - Notification client. Steps 6 and 7 in Fig. 1 show the interaction between the Notification Client and the Notification service.

To initiate streaming of the notifications requested in the previous step the Notification Client calls NotificationStream RPC with NotificationStreamRequest message with stream_id field set to the ID of a stream to be used. This RPC returns a stream of NotificationStreamResponse, which makes this RPC to be classified as "server streaming RPC".

Server-streaming RPC

A server-streaming RPC is similar to a unary RPC, except that the server returns a stream of messages in response to a client's request.
After sending all its messages, the server's status details (status code and optional status message) and optional trailing metadata are sent to the client. This completes processing on the server side. The client completes once it has all the server's messages.

The Notification client starts to receive a stream of NotificationStreamResponse messages where each message contains one or more Notification message. The Notification message itself will contain a field with one of the subscription_types notifications, which will be set in accordance to the type of the notification requested on this stream in the Adding subscriptions step.

In our example, we sent ConfigSubscriptionRequest inside the NotificationRegisterRequest, hence the notifications that we will get back for that stream_id will contain ConfigNotification messages inside Notification of a NotificationStreamResponse.

Handling notifications#

Now we reached the point where our custom Application can start doing actual work. The application receives a stream of notifications from the NDK Manager based on the subscriptions it requested.
The application needs to handle the notifications and perform some work based on the received data.

For example, if the application requested to receive Config notifications, it will receive a stream of ConfigNotification messages containing the configuration changes that happened on the SR Linux system for this application's configuration. The application then can parse the received data and perform some work based on it.

The Server streaming RPC will provide notifications till the last available one and block awaiting more notifications to send; the application then reads out the incoming notifications and handles the messages contained within them. Some notification messages have SyncStart and SyncEnd messages that indicate the start and end of a stream of notifications. The application can use these messages to synchronize its state with the SR Linux system.
For example, when streaming out routes from the RIB table, the application can use SyncStart and SyncEnd messages to know when the stream of routes is complete and can start processing the received routes.

Handling application's configuration and state#

As any other "regular" application, NDK applications can have their own configuration and state modelled with YANG and injected in the global config/state of the SR Linux NOS.

When NDK developer defines the YANG model for the application, they can model configuration and state data that will be accessible via CLI and all other management interfaces. The configuration data can be edited by a user via common management interfaces and delivered to the application via NDK. This workflow enables configuration management of the application via the same management interfaces as the rest of the SR Linux system.

Once configured, the application may need to update its state data based on the received notifications and the work it carried out. The state of the application becomes part of the SR Linux state datastore and is accessible via all management interfaces.

Fig 2. Updating agent's state flow

Updating or creating agent's state is done with TelemetryAddOrUpdate RPC that uses TelemetryUpdateRequest message with a list of TelemetryInfo messages. Each TelemetryInfo message contains a key field that points to a subtree of agent's YANG model that needs to be updated with the JSON data contained within the data field.

Exiting gracefully#

When an agent needs to stop its operation and/or be removed from the SR Linux system, it needs to unregister by invoking AgentUnRegister RPC of the SdkMgrService. The gRPC connection to the NDK server needs to be closed.

When unregistered, the agent's state data will be removed from SR Linux system and will no longer be accessible to any of the management interfaces.

  1. sdk_mgr is the name of the application that implements NDK gRPC server and runs on SR Linux OS. 

  2. The server is also available on a TCP socket localhost:50053