Simple Network Management Protocol, or SNMP, is crucial for optimal network management. Follow Auvik Director of Systems Engineering Steve Petryschuk as he explains SNMP and how it works.

In order to identify devices and monitor their performance, a framework is needed to collect relevant data. SNMP is that framework. A combination of Management Information Bases (MIBs) and Object Identifiers (OIDs) make up this framework and are still the model for newer, more secure versions of SNMP.

Hi, I’m Steve from Auvik. Today we’re going to talk about SNMP. SNMP is a network protocol, the Simple Network Management Protocol. It provides a framework for asking a device about its performance and configuration, no matter what kind of hardware or what kind of software that device is running. SNMP is vital for managing networks. Without SNMP it would be very difficult for network management tools to identify devices and monitor their performance. It would also be challenging to keep track of changes to the network and networks where there are multiple vendors.

Here’s how it works. SNMP has a simple architecture based on a client-server model. The servers are called managers. They collect and process information about devices on a network. The clients are called agents. Agents are a type of device or device component connected to a network that you want to collect information from. Data collected by the managers through SNMP has a tree-like hierarchy. The data tree has multiple branches called management information bases or MIBs. MIBs are used to define a group of data points that can be collected from specific agents. These group of data points are called object identifiers or OIDs or OIDS, depending on how you want to pronounce it. So a MIB is a logical grouping of OIDs.

There are currently three different versions of SNMP. Each has different features, especially when it comes to security. SNMP version one was designed in the eighties, and it has weak security. It uses default credentials and is even unencrypted. That means anyone with access to the network can intercept information traveling over SNMP version one. Unauthorized devices can even pretend to be a legitimate manager. Unfortunately, SNMP version one is still widely used in many network devices that haven’t been updated. SNMP version two has better performance, but was replaced by SNMP version three, which is still the most recent protocol and the most secure. The main benefit of moving to SNMP version three is that it allows data encryption and enforces authentication requirements for managers and agents. This reduces the risk of unauthorized device authentication. It also allows for privacy of the data being transferred. We highly recommend you use SNMP version three wherever possible, especially anytime you’re using SNMP over a public network. The last thing you should know about SNMP is it’s not normally enabled on networking devices for security reasons. If you’d like to use it to monitor your network devices, you’ll have to log into those network devices and enable it yourself.

For instructions on how to enable SNMP on Common Network Devices, visit the Auvik knowledge base or to learn more about the SNMP protocol. Visit the Auvik blog. You’ll find the link in the description below.