Imagine yourself as a network administrator, responsible for a 2000 user network. This network reaches from California to New York, and some branches over seas. In this situation, anything can, and usually does go wrong, but it would be your job as a system administrator to resolve the problem with it arises as quickly as possible. The last thing you would want is for your boss to call you up, asking why you haven't done anything to fix the 2 major systems that have been down for several hours. How do you explain to him that you didn't even know about it? Would you even want to tell him that? So now, picture yourself in the same situation, only this time, you were using a network monitoring program. Sitting in front of a large screen displaying a map of the world, leaning back gently in your chair. A gentle warning tone sounds, and looking at your display, you see that California is now glowing a soft red in color, in place of the green glow just moments before. You select the state of California, and it zooms in for a closer look. You see a network diagram overview of all the computers your company has within California. Two systems are flashing, with an X on top of them indicating that they are experiencing problems. Tagging the two systems, you press enter, and with a flash, the screen displays all the statitics of the two systems, including anything they might have in common causing the problem. Seeing that both systems are linked to the same card of a network switch, you pick up the phone and give that branch office a call, notifying them not only that they have a problem, but how to fix it as well.
Early in the days of computers, a central computer (called a mainframe) was connected to a bunch of dumb terminals using a standard copper wire. Not much thought was put into how this was done because there was only one way to do it: they were either connected, or they weren't. Figure 1 shows a diagram of these early systems. If something went wrong with this type of system, it was fairly easy to troubleshoot, the blame almost always fell on the mainframe system. Shortly after the introduction of Personal Computers (PC), came Local Area Networks (LANS), forever changing the way in which we look at networked systems. LANS originally consisted of just PC's connected into groups of computers, but soon after, there came a need to connect those individual LANS together forming what is known as a Wide Area Network, or WAN, the result was a complex connection of computers joined together using various types of interfaces and protocols. Figure 2 shows a modern day WAN. Last year, a survey of Fortune 500 companies showed that 15% of their total computer budget, 1.6 Million dollars, was spent on network management (Rose, 115). Because of this, much attention has focused on two families of network management protocols: The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), which comes from a de facto standards based background of TCP/IP communication, and the Common Management Information Protocol (CMIP), which derives from a de jure standards-based background associated with the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) (Fisher, 183).
In this report I will cover advantages and disadvantages of both Common Management Information Protocol (CMIP) and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)., as well as discuss a new protocol for the future. I will also give some good reasons supporting why I believe that SNMP is a protocol that all network administrators should use.
SNMP is a protocol that enables a management station to configure, monitor, and receive trap (alarm) messages from network devices. (Feit, 12). It is formally specified in a series of related Request for Comment (RFC) documents, listed here.
RFC 1089 - SNMP over Ethernet
RFC 1140 - IAB Official Protocol Standards
RFC 1147 - Tools for Monitoring and Debugging TCP/IP...