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"Essential SNMP"-Help For System And Network Administrators

July 27, 2001

Sebastopol, CA--Among the unrecognized acts of heroism routinely performed by system and network administrators, wrestling with SNMP is not the least significant. The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) provides its users with a "simple" set of operations that allows monitoring and remote management of network devices such as routers, switches and servers. In spite of its name, SNMP is not especially simple to learn. Essential SNMP by Douglas R. Mauro and Kevin J. Schmidt (O'Reilly, US $39.95) is one of the first books on the subject to provide a practical introduction for system and network administrators along with the technical background on how to use it effectively.

As coauthor Mauro explains, "SNMP is a shared protocol that devices, machines, and people can use to talk with each other. Every day, more and more devices in/out of the datacenter are SNMP compatible. This includes, but is definitely not limited to, systems {Sun, HP, IBM, etc), network devices such as routers, hubs, and switches, and software (Oracle, SAP, SunMC)." He continues, "I wanted to give system and network administrators a book that they could use to learn SNMP. There are a lot of books on the subject, but none that are aimed at the practicing network or system administrator."

Coauthor Schmidt adds, "There currently is no book like this one on the market. This book provides the reader with a very practical treatment of SNMP. As the Internet grows and grows, more people are going to need to know how to use SNMP to manage routers, servers, switches, etc."

SNMP is an Internet-standard protocol for managing devices on IP networks. Since it was developed in 1988, SNMP has become the de facto standard for Internet work management. Because it is a simple solution requiring little code to implement, vendors can easily build SNMP agents into their products. As the authors explain, SNMP usually is associated with managing routers, but it's important to understand that it can be used to manage many types of devices. SNMP can be used to manage Unix systems, Windows systems, printers, modem racks, power supplies, and more. Any device running software that allows the retrieval of SNMP information can be managed. And, as Mauro says, "There are so many admins out there that are surrounded by SNMP but don't know what it is or how to use it. This book will give them the knowledge!"

This new book starts with the basics of SNMP and how it works, then provides numerous practical examples of how use it. The book covers OIDs, MIBs, community strings, traps, and other technical elements, but the main focus is on practical network administration: how to configure SNMP agents and network management stations, how to use SNMP to retrieve and modify variables on network devices, how to configure management software to react to traps sent by managed devices, and more. It explores both commercial and open source packages, including HP's OpenView, Castle Rock's SNMPc, the Net-SNMP tools, Simon Leinen's Perl SNMP support, and MRTG. Administrators will come away with ideas for writing scripts to help them manage their networks, create managed objects, and extend the operation of SNMP agents. In addition to SNMPv1 and v2, the book covers SNMPv3, which has just started to appear in commercial products as of this printing.

Essential SNMP was written for system and network administrators who could benefit from using SNMP to manage their equipment but who have little or no experience with SNMP or SNMP applications. According to the authors, almost any network, no matter how small, can benefit from using SNMP.

Online Resources:

Essential SNMP
By Douglas R. Mauro & Kevin J. Schmidt
July 2001
ISBN 0-596-00020-0, 313 pages, $39.95 (US)

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