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What is the difference between SNMP and RMON?

While Simple Network Management Protocol tracks network devices, Remote Network Monitoring tracks traffic. As a team, SNMP and RMON are essential for network management.

When used together, Simple Network Management Protocol and Remote Network Monitoring are symbiotic. SNMP is a specification that tracks basic health metrics on network devices and facilitates necessary configuration changes. RMON, an extension of SNMP, provides traffic flow data for troubleshooting and the controls necessary to adjust for better performance from a central console.

In tandem, SNMP and RMON help network administrators monitor network performance and troubleshoot issues.

SNMP has evolved from the first iteration created by the Internet Engineering Task Force in the 1980s to the current version 3 to add more features in areas like security and performance. However, its emphasis is on performing what are often described as initial frontline defensive capabilities.

SNMP is implemented as an agent on network devices, including IP-connected video cameras, printers, routers, servers, switches and workstations. The protocol conveys management data from the monitored devices to a network management application, which then queries for more data and, when necessary, makes relevant configuration changes.

SNMP enables IT managers to trace network performance by monitoring device statistics, checking usage, identifying network faults, discovering unauthorized devices and configuring devices, all remotely.

How does RMON work?

RMON is deployed as an SNMP management information base (MIB), which is a database populated with hierarchical management information either via an agent embedded on network devices or a standalone probe installed on the network itself. An RMON probe uses an SNMP agent to gather and transmit data to a management application.

The RMON MIB is composed of data associated with Ethernet traffic activity to help identify and address performance issues. These statistics include the following:

  • packets sent;
  • bytes sent;
  • packets dropped;
  • statistics by host;
  • conversations between two addresses;
  • events;
  • user bandwidth;
  • user traffic;
  • accessed websites;
  • IP-to-MAC address map;
  • protocol directory and distribution;
  • network layer data by source;
  • destination;
  • host pair; and
  • data by application protocol per source, destination and host pair.

RMON can be used for a variety of use cases, including the following:

  • real-time remote troubleshooting and mitigation;
  • asset tracking;
  • workstation and server management;
  • patch management;
  • offline support; and
  • proactive performance management.

Together, RMON and SNMP provide essential and comprehensive functionalities to help network managers monitor network devices and traffic flow.

This was last published in August 2020

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