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  • OK, time for the ignorant question of the week: What is SNMP, and why should I care?
    • by Beatnik (493) on 2005.10.06 10:58 (#43729) Homepage Journal
      In short, what is SNMP: SNMP is a protocol that can be used to manage network devices (hence: Simple Network Management Protocol).

      For instance, you can poll the system load of a Cisco Router, request the active connections on a firewall, query the database state of an Oracle server, read the route or interface table of a Juniper Router. As a hardware manufacturar, you design a tree in which you store information about your device. Tools like, for instance, MRTG [] can poll the status of your device and generate graphs and reports on it. In larger setups, SNMP is used in combination with fscking expensive software in which you can define all kinds of thresholds. For instance, mail person X if router Y has an average processor load of 95% over the past hour. As an ordinary Joe, you can design your own tree (actually called a MIB tree), in which you can store any kind of data you want. A server process handles SNMP requests and responds with data. The server can retrieve that data from your system (e.g. CPU Load, Swap space, free disk space, etc) or it can pass on the control to a script or application. If you have a fish tank and you hook up a thermometer to your computer and can read out the temperature, you can easily request the water temperature through an SNMP call. You can practically request any kind of data.

      Like I posted in my journal entry, it shouldn't be TOO hard to send an SQL query to my SNMP server and get the results back. SNMP is mainly used for reporting, monitoring and management.

      Net-SNMP [] comes with a whole bunch of Unix dists and compiles easily for those that don't have it out of the box.
      Browseable MIB Tree [].. This one is pretty cool.

      Why should you care? If you're not in the Network Management business, I can't think of any reason why you should care. SNMP can be a fun thing to play with.. and big bucks are made in network management.