Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is a common method of network management. It is primarily used to collect information from, and to configure network devices. Such devices usually include servers, printers, switches, hubs, and routers that use an Internet Protocol (IP) network.

Certain servers are provided by businesses such as Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 to provide SNMP software that works directly with third-party management systems. Big networks made up of hundreds or thousands of network nodes can be very difficult to monitor every single computer.

Local Area Networks (LANs) commonly employ SNMP in order to manage network nodes from a management host. First developed in 1988, they provided monitoring of network performance which includes the abilities to audit network usage, to troubleshoot network defects, to seek out inappropriate usage/access, and sometimes to remotely configure devices.

SNMP was built to be deployed onto the most complex networks with the largest number of network devices.  It is also meant to have a minimal impact on the managed nodes. SNMP was designed to keep running in the case when most other applications on the network fail.

It is essentially a standard that defines how communication may take place between SNMP-capable devices/applications and designates the SNMP message types. SNMP programs such as Windows Server 2003 SNMP actually gives what is called a SNMP agent which allows for the remote monitoring of computers or workstations running a large variety of other Microsoft software and management systems.