What is SNMP?

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is an IP-based application layer protocol that exchanges information between a network management solution and any SNMP-enabled device.

Network hardware vendors automatically embed SNMP support in their devices making it an accessible way to monitor the network. It’s also efficient in managing network performance, finding problems and managing network growth.

SNMP can be considered the network management language – with most network components having built-in SNMP capability, and with most network monitoring software including SNMP in their features list, Simple Network Management Protocol has become the de-facto choice in network management.

SNMP can be defined as an application-level protocol designed to monitor network infrastructure, and provides administrators with device-centric visibility. It is non-proprietary, making it easy to monitor devices from different vendors simultaneously using the same software.

SNMP collects information through polling. Your network monitoring software acts as a client, and sends UDP poll packets to the SNMP server, or agent, a piece of code running on the device itself. The agent, in response to the poll, sends an SNMP packet containing the pre-defined metrics back to the client. The monitoring software can then collect, review and analyze key statistics from different devices.

Management Information Base (MIB)

A vital component of SNMP is the Management Information Base (MIB). This is a text file, containing hierarchically organized information pertaining to the data that can be collected from a particular device. MIB is included in all SNMP-enabled devices, and is converted by the protocol into a format usable by the monitoring software. Hierarchy is a vital aspect here, and all the manageable features from different vendor-based devices are properly organized with a name and a number which make up the OID (Object Identifier).

In addition to polling and information exchange, SNMP also sends in data packages without explicit requests. These SNMP “traps” can be preconfigured to let the client know about specific changes in the device. The setting up of control commands is yet another SNMP capability that lets the client (monitoring software) make configuration changes within the device.

With almost all vendors supporting SNMP, the protocol is a standard choice in network management suites. But this very ubiquity can make SNMP configuration a complex process. Your network management solution should provide an easy and comprehensive strategy for deploying and configuring SNMP.

SNMP with WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold supports the monitoring of any SNMP v1, v2 or v3 enabled device including routers, switches, servers, firewalls, and operating systems, including Windows, Unix, and Linux. In addition to powerful monitoring capabilities, WhatsUp Gold provides network management professionals with a complete set of web-based SNMP monitor management tools, including the SNMP MIB Walker, Explorer, multi-SNMP variable probing and trending, and a whole lot more.

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