Just as a nation's laws, rules of etiquette and common courtesy govern how people interact with each other, computer hardware, software and the people who use them must adhere to standards and protocols to communicate and work together efficiently. SNMP and SMTP are two protocols or codes of behavior that determine the way application software, operating systems, network utilities and networked devices on communicate on Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol or TCP/IP networks.

  1. SNMP

    • SNMP stands for Simple Network Management Protocol. SNMP is a protocol for managing a variety of devices on a TCP/IP network. The protocol covers the interaction between a controller called an SNMP manager, the software interface between the device and the network called the "SNMP agent" and the actual device to be controlled, which is called the "managed device."

      SNMP protocol contains a set of seven commands that the SNMP manager and SNMP agent must understand to communicate with each other. For example, the GET command allows the SNMP manager get information from a networked device. The Response command is sent by the SNMP agent to the controller whenever the device does something of significance like complete a job or issue an error alert. Servers, routers, switches and workstations are examples of the type of devices that can be controlled over a TCP/IP network with the help of SNMP.


    • SMTP or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is a specification that describes the methods and protocols for the transfer and delivery electronic mail over the Internet. SMTP covers the function of mail servers and the applications that you use to create and receive email. Before your email is read by its intended recipient, an SMTP client -- your email application -- must communicate with an SMTP server or email service. Your mail client and the server exchange information about your mail's content and destination. The server then sends the email to the intended recipient's email client. Later refinements in SMTP describe the role and function of MTAs or Mail Transfer agents, which stand between the receiver and sender email applications.

    Origin of Internet Protocols

    • The IETF, or Internet Engineering Task Force, is an organization whose mission is to developed the standards needed to maintain and improve the functionality of the Internet. IETF standards evolve through the introduction of RFCs, or Request for Comments. RFCs usually contain methods for improving existing parts of the Internet or proposals for new technology to extend the Internet's capability. RFCs may evolve into international standards after a period of review and refinement by experts and interested parties around the world. SNMP developed from RFC 1157 while SMTP stems from RFC 821.

    SNMP and SMTP Together

    • The give and take of the RFC process makes it possible discover, identify and correct incompatibilities that may prevent reliable interaction between the wide array of devices, operating environments and services found on the Internet or local TCP/IP networks. Tested and refined standards allow you to control SMTP servers and other MTAs through SNMP managers. RFC 1565 and RFC 1566 define the methods that make this possible. In addition, SNMP managers can send alerts to network technicians via SMTP mail systems.

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