Anatomy of SNMP– AVNOC®
Over the years, Simple Network Monitoring Protocol (SNMP) has been used to manage and monitor IT devices on a network. Many devices support SNMP, including routers, switches, servers, workstations, printers, power systems, and even audiovisual gear. The primary use of SNMP is to monitor network-attached devices for conditions that warrant attention. SNMP is a part of the Internet Protocol Suite that is defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF defined a set of standards for network management and includes an application layer protocol, database schema and a set of data objects defined and used by the vendors.
SNMP exposes Management Information Base (MIB) data in the form of variables that can be queried and/or trapped.
Typical SNMP uses a Manager to manage or collect information from a group of hosts or devices on a computer network. SNMP agents on the managed/monitored devices expose management data as variables. The variables are accessible via SNMP (Queried or Trapped) and are organized in hierarchies defined by MIB’s. There are three components:
- Managed Device – is a network node that implements SNMP (MD)
- Agent – software that runs on the managed/monitored devices (AGENT)
- Management Station – software that processes SNMP Traps / Queries (MS)
SNMP does not define which information a managed system should offer. It is up to the manufacturer to expose SNMP data in a manner which is appropriate for the device. SNMP does offer a means of communication of the variables. A hierarchical name-space containing Object Identifies (OID) identifies the variables which the manufacturer chooses to expose.
SNMP Version 1
SNMP Version 1 is the initial implementation of the protocol. It operates over protocols such as User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Internet Protocol (IP), OSI Connectionless Network Service (CLNS), Apple Talk Datagram Delivery Protocol (DDP), and Novell Internet Packet Exchange (IPX).
Version 1 has been criticized for its poor security. Authentication of clients is performed only by a community string which is transmitted via clear text.
SNMP Version 2c
SNMP Version 2c extends version 1 and includes improvements over Version 1. This version was not highly accepted and was replaced by Version 3.
SNMP Version 3
SNMP Version 3 added cryptographic security.
Since most devices support Version 1, it is important to deploy these devices within a Secure Computing Environment (SCE). Such rules-of-thumb as never expose a SNMP Version 1 to the public internet is a good starting point for a successful SNMP implementation.
Queries can be processed within the SCE safely, it is when the data is required to be transported out of the SCE that an encrypted solution becomes apparent. The Management Station (MS) sends out queries to the Agents running on the devices and processes the data according to rules set forth in the query. Since the MS resides within the SCE all data is restricted to the SCE making for a secure environment to process traps.
Traps can also be processed in the same manner as long as the AGENT and the MS are in the same SCE.
It gets a little tricky when trying to access and use the data generated from SNMP. The latest HIPPA and Best use Practices are limiting the methods for data retrieval. While many solutions are great if all the devices and users are within the same SCE, however, this is the exception rather than the rule.
Health Information Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 as a standard for insuring the privacy of health information, including digital information.
Security & SNMP
Accessing SNMP Data
While there may be many different Network Implementation Scenarios there is one thing for sure, there will be private within private networks that will not allow ingress to retrieve the information. Network security is implemented by a team to insure safety of the network, plug any holes, and remain compliant with any internal or external standards that may apply. There are two methods of accessing the SNMP Data:
- Use an MS that has access to all devices within the SCE
- Use an MS that translates the data and transmits it securely to an accessible manager.
In the first scenario there are many products that accomplish this task, the second scenario is where innovative thinking must be applied.
Isolation and compartmentalization makes using an SNMP system much more difficult.
Bridging the Gap
AVNOC® an AV/IT remote monitoring company, starts with security as the foundation by using a Management Station Hardware Solution which fits easily into any network (private within private), while securely communicating its data to a host for processing. The host processes the data into alerts and metrics that can be retrieved using a secure web interface. The solution is extremely effective in HIPAA compliant network environments.
SNMP and Audiovisual
Using SNMP in audiovisual systems creates a Layer 3 management solution for the AV network and the hardware on the network. The SNMP data can be translated into useful information from video conferencing details and audiovisual system status for remote management. Available API can be used for software applications that are already deployed in technology help desks and support centers for receiving remote data directly into an existing platform.
During the initial engineering of audiovisual networks SNMP should always be a consideration. SNMP is generally an option on most modern audiovisual devices but in most cases it requires specific network information to be added to the device set-up. Making sure all of the correct parameters are detailed is key to SNMP Layer 3 implementation. A destination to receive the SNMP data like a monitoring agent tied to a cloud host can be used for secure data transfer.
Making Monitoring Happen Easily
Combining AVNOC® with today’s networked audiovisual and telepresence installations commercial integrators can deliver proactive customer support services readily. Recurring revenue has never been easier to obtain than by applying remote monitoring technology. By applying SNMP monitoring to all new networked audiovisual builds now, the growth of remote support services that create recurring revenue have the opportunity to flourish sooner.
Staying connected in the rapidly moving world of AV/IT is easier when you have the network monitoring products that are used by AV industry leaders.
Put AVNOC® in your toolbox to really connect with customers.
For more on AVNOC® monitoring solutions visit avnoc.com