The following is an excerpt from our Network Monitoring blog at In this post, you’ll learn what SNMP is, how it works, and the uses and limitations of the protocol. 

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is a standard set of communication rules, that is, a protocol. This protocol governs the main way for querying and monitoring the hardware and software on a computer network.

It doesn’t matter whether the hardware is from Juniper or Cisco, or whether the software is UNIX or Windows, SNMP uses a standardized method of querying information and finding paths to necessary information. Without SNMP monitoring, there would be no way to see what was on a network, know how the devices were performing, and detect problems.

SNMP has been around since 1989 in various forms, and while alternatives have arisen, it still remains among the most-used solutions for monitoring and managing network-connected devices. It is one of the key monitoring tools that allows a network manager or network administrator to understand the status of network infrastructure.

The Basics of SNMP Monitoring

In concept, SNMP is fairly simple. Devices on a network each have a program called an SNMP agent, which gathers information about a device, organizes it into entries in a consistent format, and is able to respond to SNMP queries. These devices can include phones, printers, switches, and other hardware, in addition to servers and workstations. These SNMP queries will come from the SNMP manager, which polls, collects and processes information about all of the SNMP-enabled devices on the network. This is really all that is needed for network monitoring.

The SNMP Agent

The agent is actually where most of the work happens. Its job is to gather information about its device, organize that information, and respond to the manager’s queries with appropriate information. It also configures which managers can have access to its information, and can become an intermediary to report information on devices it can connect to, but that are not themselves configured for SNMP traffic.

Network hardware and software generally have the agent already built in. It just needs to be enabled and configured.

The SNMP Manager

An SNMP management station can range from simple to complex.  It typically monitors SNMP activity, keeping a record of all the device data, and has the capability to create useful reports.

The above is an excerpt, check out the original post on to continue reading, and learn about SNMP message structures and types, versions, and uses and limitations.