As reported in RFC 1052, IAB Recommendations for the Development of Internet Network Management Standards , a two-prong strategy for network management of TCP/IP-based internets was undertaken. In the short-term, the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), defined in RFC 1067, was to be used to manage nodes in the Internet community. In the long-term, the use of the OSI network management framework was to be examined. Two documents were produced to define the management information: RFC 1065, which defined the Structure of Management Information (SMI), and RFC 1066, which defined the Management Information Base (MIB). Both of these documents were designed so as to be compatible with both the SNMP and the OSI network management framework.
This strategy was quite successful in the short-term: Internet-based network management technology was fielded, by both the research and commercial communities, within a few months. As a result of this, portions of the Internet community became network manageable in a timely fashion.
As reported in RFC 1109, Report of the Second Ad Hoc Network Management Review Group , the requirements of the SNMP and the OSI network management frameworks were more different than anticipated. As such, the requirement for compatibility between the SMI/MIB and both frameworks was suspended. This action permitted the operational network management framework, based on the SNMP, to respond to new operational needs in the Internet community by producing MIB-II.
In May of 1990, the core documents were elevated to "Standard Protocols" with "Recommended" status. As such, the Internet-standard network management framework consists of: Structure and Identification of Management Information for TCP/IP-based internets, RFC 1155 , which describes how managed objects contained in the MIB are defined; Management Information Base for Network Management of TCP/IP-based internets, which describes the managed objects contained in the MIB, RFC 1156 ; and, the Simple Network Management Protocol, RFC 1157 , which defines the protocol used to manage these objects. Consistent with the IAB directive to produce simple, workable systems in the short-term, the list of managed objects defined in the Internet-standard MIB was derived by taking only those elements which are considered essential. However, the SMI defined three extensibility mechanisms: one, the addition of new standard objects through the definitions of new versions of the MIB; two, the addition of widely-available but non-standard objects through the experimental subtree; and three, the addition of private objects through the enterprises subtree. Such additional objects can not only be used for vendor-specific elements, but also for experimentation as required to further the knowledge of which other objects are essential.
As more objects are defined using the second method, experience has shown that the resulting MIB descriptions contain redundant information. In order to provide for MIB descriptions which are more concise, and yet as informative, an enhancement is suggested. This enhancement allows the author of a MIB to remove the redundant information, while retaining the important descriptive text.
Before presenting the approach, a brief presentation of columnar object handling by the SNMP is necessary. This explains and further motivates the value of the enhancement.