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What Is Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)?

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP): Overview

What is Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)? SNMP is an application-layer protocol that transmits management data between network devices. SNMP belongs to the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) family and is one of the most widely used network protocols for managing and monitoring network components across a variety of industries. 

The majority of network components come with an integrated SNMP agent. To connect with network monitoring tools or the network management system, these agents have to be activated and set up. Afterward, SNMP can be used to gather and organize data about each device.

What Is SNMP Used For?

What is Simple Network Management Protocol? To maintain constant uptime and high-bandwidth network operations, network administrators control network devices and assign interfaces and ports. By strategically assigning the optimal ports that devices can use to communicate, IT teams make it easier for traffic to flow through the network more freely. Otherwise, there will be data “log jams” that result in latency and poor performance. SNMP device monitoring is a significant element of this process. 

SNMP enables administrators to monitor how devices are performing and make changes to network devices so that data moves through the network more efficiently. But first, to use SNMP monitoring, the SNMP agent implemented on a network device has to be configured to send monitoring data to an SNMP manager (more on this below). Once done, admins can concentrate on making adjustments to optimize network performance.

Admins can also track the availability and performance of SNMP network devices using the insights SNMP provides, enabling them to better maintain the health of the network. By using the appropriate SNMP monitoring tool, admins can keep track of various SNMP protocol versions and gain a comprehensive view of the entire network. Also, SNMP monitoring tools make data available in simple formats like graphs and dashboards. 

How Does SNMP Work?

Your network experiences different kinds of traffic throughout the day as users browse the web, transfer files, download files, and engage in other activities that involve sending and receiving data. SNMP communicates with your network to get details about each network device’s activities. For instance, it monitors the number of packets, bytes, and errors sent by your websites, as well as the number of hits it receives per day.

SNMP also communicates with devices on your network by sending queries or messages—known as protocol data units (PDUs)—to each device. Network administrators can track almost any data value they specify using these messages. This enables them to pull data from each device to see how it is performing.

What Is SNMP Protocol: 5 Components of SNMP

SNMP consists of five different components:

SNMP Manager

Also referred to as a network management station (NMS), the SNMP manager watches over the SNMP network. It communicates with network devices via the SNMP agents and operates on a network host, which is a computer on a network. It then sends queries to agents, receives their responses, configures their variables, and records events that come from them.

Managed Devices

A managed device is an SNMP-capable network component the SNMP manager controls. Typically, these are printers,wireless  devices, routers, or switches.

SNMP Agent

An SNMP agent is a piece of software that reacts to SNMP requests by providing information about a network device’s status and metrics. This gives SNMP agents the most significant role in the SNMP ecosystem. They gather, store, and send monitoring data from SNMP network devices that are nearby and connected to the agent. When a query is made, data is sent to the selected SNMP manager—and this is what an administrator can read and analyze.

Management Information Database (MIB)

A structure called an SNMP MIB outlines how information is exchanged in an SNMP system. Every SNMP agent has a database with information that outlines the specifications of the devices it controls. An SNMP manager gathers data for performance management, fault management, and data storage using SNMP. The MIB stores data acquired from each device on the network and serves as a shared database for the agent and the SNMP manager.

To make network building, testing, deployment, and operations easier, the SNMP system uses MIBs to save information as text files in a predefined format. In this way, MIB editors, network management tools, SNMP agent builders, and network simulation tools can all understand the data within the MIB.


OID stands for “object identifier,” and it provides an address that the system can use to identify the devices administrators are managing and monitoring.

  1. Scalar: Objects that are defined by a single object instance are called scalars. This means there can only be one instance of the object.
  2. Tabular: Grouped in MIB tables, these objects are defined by numerous linked object instances.

OIDs are arranged hierarchically in MIBs. All of the manageable elements of each device are grouped in this hierarchical structure, making them easier for administrators to visualize.

3 Versions of SNMP and How They are Related To Each Other

SNMP has three versions, with each newer version making improvements to its predecessor.

SNMP Version 1 (SNMPv1)

SNMP version 1 was the first implementation of SNMP, and it supports 32-bit counters, which limit its ability to secure a system, specifically due to the relatively slow rate at which it can process information—32 bits at a time. It uses clear-text community strings, which work like passwords or user IDs to allow access to device data. However, this kind of authentication is less secure than what the newer versions use.

SNMP Version 2 (SNMPv2)

SNMP version 2 replaces the 32-bit counters with 64-bit ones. But despite this improvement, it still has the same issues that come with community strings. 

SNMP Version 3 (SNMPv3)

Version 3 comes with a combination of authentication and encryption options, which allows it to prevent unauthorized access, as well as attempts by hackers to spy on communications. As a result, SNMPv3 is more secure than the previous two versions.

Why Do Enterprises Need SNMP Monitoring Tools

What is SNMP used for? To ensure constant availability and the efficient use of bandwidth during network operations, network administrators monitor the devices on a network and free up, assign, and decommission interfaces and ports. A significant component of this process is closely monitoring SNMP devices. 

To use SNMP monitoring, an administrator has to set up the SNMP agent to send monitoring data to an SNMP manager. The network management tool handles monitoring, so administrators can concentrate on implementing corrective actions. But without SNMP monitoring, administrators would struggle to control and monitor devices on their networks.

Based on the information supplied by SNMP, administrators can monitor the performance and availability of SNMP network devices and identify problems to keep their network healthy. IT teams can therefore get a thorough picture of their entire network environment by using the appropriate SNMP monitoring tool. Additionally, SNMP monitoring software presents data in formats that are easy to understand and includes presentations about how to improve network performance. Without SNMP monitoring tools, the process of gathering and organizing device data would take too long and waste IT team members’ time.

How Fortinet Can Help

The Fortinet Digital Experience Monitoring Platform, FortiMonitor, provides a complete Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based monitoring framework that makes it possible for enterprises to modernize their performance monitoring tools.

No matter where the user is located or where the application is hosted, FortiMonitor enables end-to-end visibility into user-to-application performance. This gives you the control and oversight necessary to optimize network performance. You can also make adjustments to individual devices so they can better perform business-critical activities, such as streaming high-definition video to multiple locations during a meeting via a videoconferencing application.

Also, using FortiGuard SOC-as-a-Service (SOCaaS), which combines security operations center (SOC) technology, the extensive experience of seasoned professionals, and the expertise of security analysts, your SOC team can ensure your network, information, and assets are secure. With FortiGuard SOCaaS, Fortinet professionals can act as an extension of your existing SOC. To cut through the clutter and impart critical knowledge about what matters and how to best respond to incidents, Fortinet analysts continuously monitor your environment using cutting-edge technologies, including machine learning.


What is Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)?

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is an application-layer protocol that transmits management data between network devices. SNMP belongs to the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) family.

What are the versions of SNMP?

The versions of SNMP include:

1.         SNMP Version 1 (SNMPv1)

2.         SNMP Version 2 (SNMPv2)

3.         SNMP Version 3 (SNMPv3)

What are the components of SNMP?

The components of SNMP include:

1.         SNMP manager

2.         Managed devices

3.         SNMP agent

4.         Management information database (MIB)

5.         SNMP object identifier (OID)