Simple Network Management Protocol

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What Does Simple Network Management Protocol Mean?

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is a set of protocols for network management and monitoring. These protocols are supported by many typical network devices such as routers, hubs, bridges, switches, servers, workstations, printers, modem racks and other network components and devices. Supported devices are all network-attached items that must be monitored to detect conditions. These conditions must be addressed for proper, appropriate and ongoing network administration. SNMP standards include an application layer protocol, a set of data objects and a methodology for storing, manipulating and using data objects in a database schema.


The SNMP protocol is included in the application layer of TCP/IP as defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Techopedia Explains Simple Network Management Protocol

Typically, the Simple Network Management Protocol uses one or several administrative computers, called managers, which oversee groups of networked computers and associated devices. A constantly running software program, called an agent, feeds information to the managers by way of SNMP. The agents create variables out of the data and organize them into hierarchies. The hierarchies, along with other metadata, may be types and descriptions of the variables and are described by management information bases – hierarchical virtual databases of network objects.

Three key components of a network managed by SNMP are the managed devices (routers, servers, switches, etc.), software agents, and a network management system. There may be more than one NMS on a given managed network.

SNMP uses 7 protocol data units: GetRequest, SetRequest, GetNextRequest, GetBulkRequest, Response, Trap and InformRequest. The PDUs enable requests for specific data in the form of variables from the hierarchical virtual databases, as well as changes and logical manipulations of/to the variables. Using these data units, SNMP is actually a simple protocol for collecting and organizing information.

SNMP has evolved into three different versions:

  • SNMPv1: This was the first implementation, operating within the structure management information specification, and described in RFC 1157.
  • SNMPv2: This version has improved support for efficiency and error handling and is described in RFC 1901. It was first introduced in RFC 1441 and is more appropriately known as SNMP v2c.
  • SNMPv3: This version improves security and privacy. It was introduced in RFC 3410.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.