The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) has been widely used in enterprise networks to effectively manage systems, network devices, and networks. The widespread use of SNMP has raised many issues relating to managing systems and networks. One of the benefits of SNMP is how quickly solutions may be created to support the increasing numbers of networking components and applications.
Within SNMP networks, the number of entities (systems, components, and applications) that need to be managed is growing rapidly. There is a need to respond to the industry's demand for more flexible and dynamic management of multiple devices.
The initial network management solution, that is based on SNMP, allowed developers to create one monolithic agent per system/device listening on a single port (port 161). It was soon discovered that this SNMP solution had many constraints and was not flexible enough to effectively manage all the devices necessary.
New technology was needed to produce multiple agents by different people, that could manage different components and applications separately within a device. This resulted in the new extensible agent technology or Master/subagent technology. Based on this technology, Sun provides a solution named Solstice Enterprise Agent (SEA).
The agents consist of Master Agent and subagents. The Master Agent receives the SNMP-based management requests from the managers and sends responses to these management requests. The responses are sent after retrieving the appropriate values from the respective subagents. The subagents provide management of different components based on Management Information Based (MIBs or MIFs) specifically designed for components/applications.
The Enterprise Agent also allows you to integrate and use SNMP-based legacy agents.
In subsequent chapters, the roles of the Master Agent and subagents are discussed in detail.