Meet Our Good Friend SNMP

SNMPSNMP is like that guy you’ve seen a million times at social events, but no one knows who he is or what he does and everyone’s too polite to ask.

That’s partially our fault. We’ve been enabling SNMP in our WheatNet-IP audio network since we introduced it in 2008, but we’ve never formally made the introductions. Now that SNMP is starting to make a name for itself in broadcasting circles, and with transmitter manufacturers like Nautel and remote control manufacturers like Davicom and Burk now enabling SNMP in their products, it’s about time we explained what this network protocol is all about.

On the face of it, SNMP is a set of standards defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force that is used for monitoring and managing data from servers, printers, hubs, and switches. Just about anything that hangs off an IP network can be monitored by SNMP for, say, alerting if a particular port is dropping packets or if a device is heating up and about to fail. Much of this information is organized in MIB files – or tables. These files define the data points relevant to a particular server, switch, port or network device like a BLADE I/O unit. MIB data can be organized by the device or grouped in tables for viewing, say, a particular stream of data running across the network. (MIB is short for Management Information Base and SNMP is short for Simple Network Management Protocol, in case you’re wondering).


As standards go, SNMP has been around for a long time – at least 20 years. Practically all the IP audio network companies we know use SNMP during development, but they don’t generally enable it after their boxes leave the factory. We do, and always have because we thought you might need this capability someday.

The BLADE I/O access units that make up the WheatNet-IP network each have a unique MIB file with hundreds of data points, and each BLADE has a unique object address in the network for SNMP monitoring and alerting purposes. The MIB file tells about the operation of the BLADE or group of BLADEs, such as bitrates or temperatures. For security reasons, we’ve set some of these data points as read-only, while others are set as read-and-write and therefore can be manipulated and controlled.

Wheatstone -_Nautel_SNMP_MIB_BrowserTo view MIB files, some people find it helpful to use a MIB browser. This is useful for monitoring RAID arrays, for example, to see whether there are dead spots in the array or if the fan speed on a particular server is off -- so you know before a fan gets noisy that it’s time to replace it.

Wheatstone -_Spiceworks_SNMP_WEB__VLAN_TrafficTo fully utilize and manipulate MIB data for alerting and other useful purposes, however, you will need some sort of SNMP management tool. SNMP managers come in a range of features and prices, from blown-out enterprise tools by Cisco to freeware that require you know your way around SNMP. Most use the basic SNMP commands of GET, SET and TRAP. By sending a TRAP message, for example, the client device can alert the SNMP manager to conditions like packets that are slowing down or a CPU that’s overheating, or alert for a router port that’s no longer responding or a hard drive approaching full status.

Because SNMP is an established standard that has been around for more than 20 years, it’s widely supported in network software, systems and hardware devices – including yours truly’s! SNMP products number in the hundreds, if not thousands, so you won’t find a shortage of software managers, browsers, trap relays and cards that you can use for just about any SNMP monitoring and control system you have in mind.

Our field engineers have worked with dozens of SNMP supported WheatNet-IP networks, and can answer most of your questions about setting up an SNMP monitoring and alerting system that will work for your purposes.

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