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What Is Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)

generic-fs-snmpSimple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), an application layer protocol, facilitates the exchange of management information among network devices, such as nodes and routers. It comprises part of the TCP/IP suite and uses UDP. System administrators can remotely manage network performance, find and solve network problems, and plan for network growth by using SNMP.

Instead of defining a large set of commands, SNMP places all operations in a get-request, get-next-request, get-bulk-request, and set-request format. For example, an SNMP manager can get a value from an SNMP agent or store a value in that SNMP agent. The SNMP manager can comprise part of a network management system (NMS), and the SNMP agent can reside on a networking device such as a router.

Three versions of SNMP exist: version 1 (SNMPv1), version 2 (SNMPv2), and version 3 (SNMPv3). SNMPv1 represents the initial implementation of SNMP that functions within the specifications of the Structure of Management Information (SMI) and operates over protocols, such as User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and IP.

The SNMPv1 SMI defines highly structured MIB tables that are used to group objects that contain multiple variables. Tables contain zero or more rows, which are indexed, so SNMP can retrieve or alter an entire row with a supported command.

With SNMPv1, the NMS issues a request, and managed devices return responses. Agents use the Trap operation to asynchronously inform the NMS of a significant event.

As with SNMPv1, SNMPv2c functions within the specifications of SMI. MIB modules contain definitions of interrelated managed objects. Be aware that the operations that are used in SNMPv1 are similar to those that are used in SNMPv2. The SNMPv2 trap operation, for example, serves the same function as that used in SNMPv1, but it uses a different message format and replaces the SNMPv1 trap.

The Inform operation in SNMPv2c enables one NMS to send trap information to another NMS and to receive a response from the NMS.

SNMPv3 provides the following security features:

•Authentication—Verifying that the request comes from a genuine source.

•Privacy—Encrypting data.

•Authorization—Verifying that the user allows the requested operation.

•Access control—Verifying that the user has access to the objects that are requested.

SNMPv3 prevents packets from being exposed on the network. Instead of using community strings like SNMP v1 and v2, SNMP v3 uses SNMP users.

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