North American Network Operators Group

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a different view of SNMP

  • From: Jerry Scharf
  • Date: Sat Sep 04 16:38:24 1999

(on the soapbox)


I agree with many of the things you said in hating SNMP. I have complained
at times about the complexity and lack of efficiency of SNMP, as well at
it's difficulty in representing certain types of arrays.

The "easy" alternative you present is parsing CLI output. This can be just
as evil as SNMP, at least in dealing with Cisco gear.

The big advantage of SNMP comes not from the protocol but from the
formality that it brings. With SNMP, I can actually tell you what
variables in what forms are available on a given system, based on the
standard and proprietary MIBs published. Please tell me which commands are
available in a given IOS release. Please tell me the parsing format of the
output form these commands. Please guarantee that they won't change in
ways that appear as random to the person dealing with them from release to

The big win would be if there was some thing akin to CLI and worked across
telnet sessions and the like, but had the formality, documentation and
parsing regularity that comes with MIBs. I don't think this would be any
less readable to users, so it could just replace current CLI output. This
could also improve configuration management greatly.

The bad news is that very few people in the network management world,
either within Cisco or elsewhere, believe this in any way. The only way
for this to become real is for a significant number of major customers to
demand this and make this a requirement of doing business with Cisco. When
mo demands that Cisco do SNMPV3, they listen. When people start putting
business on the line for this kind of thing, they will listen too.