The goal of the network and system management is to help companies to keep their information system at the right level of performance and availability.
To reach it, administrators have many daily tasks to perform:
To realize all those tasks major market leader and organisms of the data communication sector have defined a standard. This standard is SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) defined by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) in RFC (Request For Comments). For years now, this protocol has been using by every company and implemented on 99 % of professional devices. Other protocols from the IP stacks like ICMP completes the tool box of management platforms.
Other proprietary solutions exist and are generally dedicated to the management of a product line within an editor or a constructor.
SNMP is considered as an application layer of the ISO model. It works over multiple transport layers like IPX or TCP/IP. Precisely, it uses the connectionless protocol of these standards named UDP or IPX. The advantages are an economy of bandwidth and simplify the implementation. Disadvantages are a lack of reliability and security.
Recent studies are conducted to use connection-oriented protocols instead of connectionless one.
The protocol is based on four different types of exchange, two for data requests, one for data settings, one for alert notifications (trap).
From a very technical point, a good management should collect as fast as possible and at short and regular intervals the status of multiple devices and on their internal components. This should be done with a reasonable overhead on the network traffics. On these criterions, SNMP fulfils its mission.