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Selecting The Right Network Troubleshooting Tool Part Three: SNMP

toolboxThroughout this series on network troubleshooting solutions, we have been reiterating how important it is to invest in tools that are simple, and effective. Using tools that are overly-complicated, or only provide partial visibility into your network, could cause you to spin your wheels while doing little to help you get to the root cause of an issue.

Ironically enough, one such solution that typically proves to be more of a hassle than it’s worth is the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

What it is: SNMP is an Internet protocol used specifically for network management and monitoring purposes in SNMP-supported devices like servers, switches and routers. SNMP deployment involves connecting managed devices to network management stations using “agents,” or embedded software which lives on specific devices.  Agents glean information from managed devices and transmit the data back to host stations when it is requested by an administrator.

What it’s useful for: SNMP, if used correctly, can show you a phenomenal amount of information about what’s happening on your network, to a deeper and broader level than most other methods. This is due to the fact that each network device may possess tens of thousands of variables, each of which can provide possible clues for network troubleshooting. As a result SNMP is great if you know specific information about a certain device and then want to peer in for a deeper look. For instance, if you know that a switch is dropping 8 percent of its packets on its trunk port due to frame check sequence (FCS) and alignment errors, you can use this information to hone in on the device and see that its cause is a duplex mismatch in the interface.

What it’s bad for: The main drawback is that if you don’t know what information to collect, or if you don’t know how to extract the information from a certain device, you will be no better off than before you started. While it may take several weeks to stumble across a problem using SNMP, you could spend just a few minutes fixing the issue using PathSolutions TotalView.

TotalView will automatically scan your network, collecting data from any device regardless of make, model or manufacturer. With TotalView, you’ll gain up to 18 different error counters on a single interface, along with plain-English network prescriptions for speedy resolutions.

Click here for more information on TotalView.

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