The SNMP models all management agent functions as alterations or inspections of variables. Thus, a protocol entity on a logically remote host (possibly the network element itself) interacts with the management agent resident on the network element in order to retrieve (get) or alter (set) variables. This strategy has at least two positive consequences:
The strategy implicit in the SNMP is that the monitoring of network state at any significant level of detail is accomplished primarily by polling for appropriate information on the part of the monitoring center(s). A limited number of unsolicited messages (traps) guide the timing and focus of the polling. Limiting the number of unsolicited messages is consistent with the goal of simplicity and minimizing the amount of traffic generated by the network management function.
The exclusion of imperative commands from the set of explicitly supported management functions is unlikely to preclude any desirable management agent operation. Currently, most commands are requests either to set the value of some parameter or to retrieve such a value, and the function of the few imperative commands currently supported is easily accommodated in an asynchronous mode by this management model. In this scheme, an imperative command might be realized as the setting of a parameter value that subsequently triggers the desired action. For example, rather than implementing a "reboot command," this action might be invoked by simply setting a parameter indicating the number of seconds until system reboot.