The AGENT-CAPABILITIES macro is used to convey a set of capabilities present in a SNMPv2 entity acting in an agent role. It should be noted that the expansion of the AGENT-CAPABILITIES macro is something which conceptually happens during implementation and not during run- time.
When a MIB module is written, it is divided into units of conformance termed groups. If a SNMPv2 entity acting in an agent role claims to implement a group, then it must implement each and every object within that group. Of course, for whatever reason, a SNMPv2 entity might implement only a subset of the groups within a MIB module. In addition, the definition of some MIB objects leave some aspects of the definition to the discretion of an implementor.
Practical experience has demonstrated a need for concisely describing the capabilities of an agent with respect to one or more MIB modules. The AGENT-CAPABILITIES macro allows an agent implementor to describe the precise level of support which an agent claims in regards to a MIB group, and to bind that description to the value of an instance of sysORID . In particular, some objects may have restricted or augmented syntax or access-levels.
If the AGENT-CAPABILITIES invocation is given to a management-station implementor, then that implementor can build management applications which optimize themselves when communicating with a particular agent. For example, the management-station can maintain a database of these invocations. When a management-station interacts with an agent, it retrieves from the agent the values of all instances of sysORID . Based on this, it consults the database to locate each entry matching one of the retrieved values of sysORID. Using the located entries, the management application can now optimize its behavior accordingly.
Note that the AGENT-CAPABILITIES macro specifies refinements or variations with respect to OBJECT-TYPE and NOTIFICATION-TYPE macros in MIB modules, NOT with respect to MODULE-COMPLIANCE macros in compliance statements.