Since emerging in the 1980s, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) has become the foremost standard in network oversight. A brief look at the history and rise of SNMP—and an overview of its latest version, SNMPv3—reveal why IT departments benefit from implementing this widely-used protocol, and what network monitoring software can do to make the transition easier.
A Brief History of SNMP
As industry overviews of the protocol explain, the creation of SNMP arose out of a real need for it. When networks were first created, there was an immediate need to oversee and control them in a systematic way, but no idea what that system would be. There wasn’t a set of protocols that could be broadly applied as a universally accessible network framework. Those who used the internet in the early days of its inception realized that without an across-the-board network management framework for involved devices, optimal connections couldn’t exist. This was the overarching dilemma that loomed over the 80s as the growth of the internet began changing the way businesses and their networks functioned.
Before SNMP came on the scene there were several predecessors: the Common Management Information Protocol and the High-Level Entity Management System, which came about in the mid-80s. Then, SNMP arrived on the scene in 1989, and in one short year it was designated by the Internet Architecture Board as the recommended framework for network management.
SNMP’s vetting by the IAB initially established its status, but its SNMP’s simplicity and ease-of-implementation that has cemented its reputation since then. Today SNMP is the most commonly used protocol for monitoring infrastructures because of its low impact on devices, and its ability to interrogate and capture more detailed information than other protocols.
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Why IT Professionals Need SNMPv3
Now that SNMP is in its third version, the question arises as to what unique benefits organizations gain from updating to SNMPv3. Here are some of the factors that set V3 apart:
Version 3 is unique in that it harnesses a user-based security module when it comes to information access. What this means is that when a person or entity tries to get information from a V3 user, they're required to enter a user name, which provides a higher level of security. Administrators have a lot of freedom in regard to this feature and they can generate as many unique user names as they need, while also controlling the specific network access that each of these users have.
Another key element that sets SNMPv3 apart from previous version is its authentication features. Between SHA and MD5, SNMPv3 accommodates authentication methods that provide even more enhanced security.
SNMPv3 uses DES to add security without overwhelming the server with cryptography. However, SNMPv3’s system of encryption can only function if users also have authentication enabled, since encryption is a process that follows the authentication of transmissions.
As these features illustrate, what sets V3 apart from its predecessors is its focus on security, and business that use V3 as their protocol set can therefore expect an increased level of protection against possible attacks or intrusions. Users leveraging V3 also enjoy a previously unseen level of access control. But successfully upgrading to SNMPv3 requires an effort on the part of enterprise IT departments, and this effort can sometimes feel burdensome to workers. That’s where a business-forward network monitoring tool like Intermapper can lend a hand.
Getting the SNMPv3 Support You Need with Intermapper
For IT professionals, enabling SNMPv3 on their devices should be a priority. But the deployment of SNMPv3 can be slowed down when, for instance, IT professionals don’t have a clear image of their network activity, including potential bandwidth issues or device failure. Issues like this can be avoided when network administrators deploy a solution like Intermapper, which allows them to create SNMP probes. Here’s how Intermapper allows its users to create these custom, SNMP probes:
Interactive Probe Builder
The work begins with the probe builder. Intermapper’s interactive probe builder relies on an interactive format to allow users to create probes by first using MIB variable names or OIDs. From there, the probe will generate workable code, which appears in an easy-to-copy box that can be efficiently transferred to Intermapper in order to enable it.
As you generate probes, Intermapper is working to gather the data you’re coming up with and bring that together into a format that accounts for the status of the various SNMP-tied devices you’re using.
Uploading to Intermapper Settings/Probes Folder
The Settings/Probes folder provides a centralized repository; within the folder you can alter the material you’ve generated, reload probes, and save all your work.
The Benefits of Using Intermapper with SNMPv3
SNMPv3 is the most advanced and secure version of SNMP yet. With features like user authentication and encryption, you receive a secure user experience unmanted by the previous versions. Using Intermapper for SNMP monitoring helps you take full advantage of the benefits of SNMpv3.
Intermapper SNMP probes give you real-time reports on how your SNMP-enabled devices are performing. Live maps help draw your attention to network issues with color-coded graphics and animation. If you've set ideal performance thresholds ahead of time, Intermapper will alert you by text, email, sound, or a variety of other methods when collected data values fall outside those thresholds. Proactive SNMP monitoring helps you easily identify if a device is in danger and stay ahead of network problems.