For the last week or so I've been neck deep in a project where I've had to investigate the capabiltiies and performance of the SNMP MIBs and SNMP agents of a couple of different types of devices from a handful of different vendors. Let me tell ya, this got complicated in a hurry. In some cases the MIBs were being written and I was literally testing them the same day and in some cases the SNMP agents were open source derivatives and had all kinds of weirdness going on. The sickest part is probably that this was more fun for me than the last vacation I went on. Yeah, I'm that geeky...

Anyhow, this project caused me to spend a lot of time using our Engineer's Toolset and specifically the IP Network Browser, SNMP Real-Time Graph, and of course the MIB Browser. Have I mentioned how much I love our MIB Browser? Of all of the tools in our toolset this is the one that's saved my bacon more times that I can remember...

Using a MIB Walk is a great way to collect data from a device and see what types of data said device makes available via SNMP. My buddy Jimmy Ray Purser blogged on this subject recently and it's a great post on understanding MIB Walk.

The downside of using a MIB Walk is that you can get a ton of data. This means that the MIB Walk can take a really long time to complete, that you have a lot of data to sort through, and that refreshing that data is cumbersome. The MIB Browser takes away these issues and makes it really easy to work with the MIBs that your devices support. There are some really key differences between a MIB Browser and using a tool like MIB Walk. First, the MIB Browser exposes the entire set of MIBs that are available within the database and allows you to search and browse your way through them. This is helpful if you don't know what you're looking for or if the data you need is available in a MIB that the hardware your querying doesn't support (usually because of a firmware version issue).  Another key difference is that you can "walk" only parts of the MIB tree when using the MIB Browser vs. having to walk the entire tree. Third, you can use commands like "Get Table" to grab a whole table at once, display it in table format, and then refresh only specific cells on demand.

My favorite feature though is that you can "Bookmark" your favorite MIBs so that they're easy to find later - and yes, that was my idea :)  Pretty cool, huh? You can also export the data you collect with MIB Browser to several different formats (PDF, CSV, HTML).

I'd planned to end this post with a poem, sort of an "Ode to MIB Browser", but alas I am being called into yet another meeting so instead I think I'll just sign off with a heartfelt "Thank You" to the guys here at SolarWinds who develop and maintain our Toolset and all of the tools within.


Flame on...
Josh
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