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Simple Network Management Protocol FAQ

This page contains some of the more frequently asked questions about SNMP. If you have questions about this FAQ, please send comments or questions to

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What is the Simple Network Management Protocol and how is it used?
The Simple Network Management Protocol, or SNMP, is the standard operations and maintenance protocol for the Internet. SNMP is one of the key technologies that enabled the Internet's phenomenal growth. Developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), this protocol is comprised of a group of RFCs.

SNMP is used to administer and manage networked devices. It can be used to manage large networks that span firewalls or embedded devices.
What are the differences between the versions of SNMP?
Currently there are three versions of SNMP. SNMPv1 and SNMPv2 are considered to be historical documents; SNMPv3 is the IETF-recommended standard.
Why is SNMPv3 important?
SNMPv3 provides a security and administrative framework to the protocol. The framework allows for the addition of new security mechanisms. For example, Triple-DES Privacy Protocol and the AES Privacy Protocol can be used for SNMPv3 privacy. The AES Privacy Protocol is available for use with 128, 192, and 256, bit keys.
What is SMI? What are the differences between SMIv1 and v2?
SMI, Structure of Management Information, defines the language or grammar of MIB documents. SMI Version 1, or SMIv1, was the first specification to define the language of an SNMP MIB document. MIB documents that are written according to the SMIv1 specification may be used with the SNMPv1, SNMPv2c, or SNMPv3 protocols. SMIv1 is considered historic and should not be used.
SMI Version 2, or SMIv2, defines the modern language of an SNMP MIB document. MIB documents that are written according to the SMIv2 specification may be used with the SNMPv1, SNMPv2c,or SNMPv3 protocols.
What is an Agent?
An agent is a software process that responds to queries using the Simple Network Management Protocol to provide status and statistics about a network node.
What is a Manager?
A manager is an application that manages SNMP agents on a network by issuing requests, getting responses, and listening for and processing agent-issued traps.
What is a MIB?
A management information base, or MIB. Each SNMP agent implements a set of "managed objects" described in MIB documents written in the ASN.1 data description language.
What are traps and informs?
A trap is a one-way communication from an agent to manager. An inform contains the same information as a trap, however, with an Inform the manager sends a verification response back to the agent.
What is an OID and how do I get an enterprise OID?
OID stands for Object Identifier. An OID appears as a string of numbers, with each number representing a level in a hierarchical tree: Each object in an SNMP MIB has an associated Object Identifier which uniquely identifies the object in a global tree of objects. These OIDs are registered with
What are the RFCs for SNMPv1, SNMPv2c, and SNMPv3?
RFCs for SNMPv1, SNMPv2c, and SMPv3 are listed on the SNMPv3 information page.
What is an RFC?
A request for comments, or RFC, is a document proposed by the Internet Engineering Task Force, who assigns this document a number. RFCs typically provide recommendations and specifications for different technologies related to the Internet.
How are standards developed?
Several major standards bodies exist, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), to name a few. The standards process used by the IETF is described in RFC 2026, Revision 3.
Where do I find the standards documents?
Standards documents are available from the IETF Web site and from the RFC Editor Web site.