CMIP vs. SNMP : Network Management


Imagine yourself as a network administrator, responsible for a 2000 user
network. This network reaches from California to New York, and some branches
over seas. In this situation, anything can, and usually does go wrong, but it
would be your job as a system administrator to resolve the problem with it
arises as quickly as possible. The last thing you would want is for your boss
to call you up, asking why you haven\'t done anything to fix the 2 major systems
that have been down for several hours. How do you explain to him that you
didn\'t even know about it? Would you even want to tell him that? So now,
picture yourself in the same situation, only this time, you were using a network
monitoring program. Sitting in front of a large screen displaying a map of the
world, leaning back gently in your chair. A gentle warning tone sounds, and
looking at your display, you see that California is now glowing a soft red in
color, in place of the green glow just moments before. You select the state of
California, and it zooms in for a closer look. You see a network diagram
overview of all the computers your company has within California. Two systems
are flashing, with an X on top of them indicating that they are experiencing
problems. Tagging the two systems, you press enter, and with a flash, the screen
displays all the statitics of the two systems, including anything they might
have in common causing the problem. Seeing that both systems are linked to the
same card of a network switch, you pick up the phone and give that branch office
a call, notifying them not only that they have a problem, but how to fix it as
well.
Early in the days of computers, a central computer (called a mainframe) was
connected to a bunch of dumb terminals using a standard copper wire. Not much
thought was put into how this was done because there was only one way to do it:
they were either connected, or they weren\'t. Figure 1 shows a diagram of these
early systems. If something went wrong with this type of system, it was fairly
easy to troubleshoot, the blame almost always fell on the mainframe system.
Shortly after the introduction of Personal Computers (PC), came Local Area
Networks (LANS), forever changing the way in which we look at networked systems.
LANS originally consisted of just PC\'s connected into groups of computers, but
soon after, there came a need to connect those individual LANS together forming
what is known as a Wide Area Network, or WAN, the result was a complex
connection of computers joined together using various types of interfaces and
protocols. Figure 2 shows a modern day WAN. Last year, a survey of Fortune 500
companies showed that 15% of their total computer budget, 1.6 Million dollars,
was spent on network management (Rose, 115). Because of this, much attention
has focused on two families of network management protocols: The Simple Network
Management Protocol (SNMP), which comes from a de facto standards based
background of TCP/IP communication, and the Common Management Information
Protocol (CMIP), which derives from a de jure standards-based background
associated with the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) (Fisher, 183).


In this report I will cover advantages and disadvantages of both Common
Management Information Protocol (CMIP) and Simple Network Management Protocol
(SNMP)., as well as discuss a new protocol for the future. I will also give
some good reasons supporting why I believe that SNMP is a protocol that all
network administrators should use.
SNMP is a protocol that enables a management station to configure, monitor,
and receive trap (alarm) messages from network devices. (Feit, 12). It is
formally specified in a series of related Request for Comment (RFC) documents,
listed here.
RFC 1089 - SNMP over Ethernet
RFC 1140 - IAB Official Protocol Standards
RFC 1147 - Tools for Monitoring and Debugging TCP/IP
Internets and Interconnected Devices
[superceded by RFC 1470]
RFC 1155 - Structure and Identification of Management
Information for TCP/IP based internets.
RFC 1156 - Management Information Base Network
Management of TCP/IP based internets
RFC 1157 - A Simple Network Management Protocol
RFC 1158 - Management Information Base Network
Management of TCP/IP based internets: MIB-II
RFC 1161 - SNMP over OSI
RFC 1212 - Concise MIB Definitions
RFC 1213 - Management Information Base for Network Management
of TCP/IP-based internets: MIB-II
RFC 1215 - A Convention for Defining Traps for use