Imperative & Declarative Programming

[What Is] Declarative vs. Imperative Approach

A DevOps paradigm, programmatic approach, or Kubernetes management. The decision between a declarative or imperative approach is not really a choice – which we will explain in this post.
The main difference between the declarative and imperative approach is:
  • Declarative: You will say what you want, but not how
  • Imperative: You describe how to do something

Declarative Approach

Users will mainly use the declarative approach when describing how services should start, for example: “I want 3 instances of this service to run simultaneously”.

In the declarative approach, a YAML file containing the wished configuration will be read and applied towards the declarative statement. A controller will then know about the YAML file and apply it where needed. Afterwards, the K8s scheduler will start the services, where it has the capacity to do so.

Kubernetes, or K8s for short, lets you decide between what approach you choose. When using the imperative approach, you will explain to Kubernetes in detail, how to deploy something. An imperative way includes the commands create, run, get & delete – basically any verb-based command.

Will I ever manage imperatively?

Yes, you will. Even when using declarative management, there is always an operator, which translates the intent to a sequence of orders and operations which he will do. Or there might be several operators who cooperate or split the responsibility for parts of the system.

Although declarative management is recommended in production environments, imperative management can serve as a faster introduction to managing your deployments, with more control over each step you would like to introduce.

Each approach has its pro’s and con’s, where the choice ultimately depends on your deployment and how you want to manage it.

While software-defined networking aims for automation, once your network is fully automated, enterprises should consider IBN (Intent-Based Networking) the next big step.

Intent-Based Networking (IBN)

Intent-Based Networking is an idea introduced by Cisco, which makes use of artificial intelligence, as well as machine learning to automate various administrative tasks in a network. This would be telling the network, in a declarative way, what you want to achieve, relieving you of the burden of exactly describing what a network should do.

For example, we can configure our CNFs in a declarative way, where we state the intent – how we want the CNF to function, but we do not care how the configuration of the CNF will be applied to, for example, VPP.

For this purpose, VPP-Agent will send the commands in the correct sequence (with additional help from KVscheduler), so that the configuration will come as close as possible to the initial intent.