Just a basic SNMP related question. I'm just trying to understand the concept of SNMP agent and had the following questions:

1) Normally, do we need to install an agent on the managed system on our own? Or do all hardware come equipped with an SNMP agent already installed?

2) If we install manually, is there any restriction on the agent we can install? Or can I can download any agent and install it and download any management system and start using it with that agent?

I'm just trying to understand the concept of the agent and this basic question is not getting answered clearly in any reading material. I'm not asking about any specific hardware.


1 Answer 1


It depends a lot. Different hardware devices, operating systems, and even applications, have differing levels of support. There are a couple of variants of SNMP out there as well, which just makes it even more fun.

When it comes to operating systems, Windows, Linux, and Solaris all have native SNMP agents. You have to turn them on, but they're there. They have varying capabilities because they're all different.

As for hardware, it really depends on the maker. It's hard to install 'agents' here. For Server hardware, the big makers all have various SNMP agents that hook into their overall Server Management Framework and extend or replace the OS-native agents.

Once you have agents, using the information supplied can also be tricky. This is done through MIB (Management Information Base) files that describe what each SNMP OID means. For SNMP-monitoring applications, these MIB files tell them how to measure such things as RAM consumption or CPU temperature. Finding them can be a pain, but they usually come with the stand-alone agents, and can be hunted down with sufficient google-fu for the OS-native agents.

  • What an excellent answer! This completely clears the doubts I had. For some stupid reason I can't upvote this answer. I'm going to do that as soon as I'm able to. Thanks. :)
    – Mugen
    Dec 15, 2010 at 21:18

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