Patterns in SNMP-Based Management

A lot of activity is currently going on to replace the SNMP management architecture with a solution better suited to managing modern IP networks and systems. New candidates include Management by Delegation, active networks, and Web-based management. In this exercise, the management community runs the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water by focusing too much on a few well-known problems exhibited by SNMP (e.g., its poor scalability) and neglecting most of its other characteristics, including those that contributed to its success (e.g., the reasons why it is simple). One way to avoid this is to explicitly capture the experience gained in the management of IP networks and systems with SNMP. In this paper, we make one step in this direction by studying the SNMP management architecture through a software engineers eyes: we identify in SNMP some of the fundamental architectural and design patterns defined in the literature. Patterns are schematic, proven solutions to recurring problems. By characterizing the current management architecture in terms of patterns, we help retain the strengths of SNMP-based management in future management architectures. We also make it easier for new software engineers to move to network and systems management by characterizing this application domain in standard pattern terms, as opposed to using the jargon understood solely by the SNMP community.

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