It is obvious that MIBs are important for network management stations as otherwise SNMP queries based on object names would not work. For example:

$ snmpget -M /dir/that/does/not/exist -On -v 2c -c public sysUpTimeInstance 2>/dev/null 
$ snmpget -M /dir/that/does/not/exist -On -v 2c -c public . 2>/dev/null 
. = Timeticks: (69843635) 8 days, 2:00:36.35

However, either one queries based on object name or OID, the SNMP get-request message sent to SNMP agent still obviously contains only the OID. What is the role of MIBs on SNMP agents? Or am I correct that MIB databases have nothing to do with SNMP agents?

2 Answers 2


You are right. Agent doesn't use MIB, it operates only on OID level. Manager needs MIB to decode/encode OID's to/from readable format.


MIBs are very much related to SNMP agents. The MIB is the mechanism through which an agent exposes data for the management of the managed device. Here is an MIB example that I found useful when first learning about the interactions of agents, MIBs, managed devices, and managers. MIBs provided by the manufacturers of networking equipment can provide a huge number configuration and management options over SNMP. This is particularly true in the cases of servers with dedicated NICs for Baseboard Management Controllers(BMCs) which can provide out-of-band management via SNMP.

Modern datacenter monitoring/management software like Nagios or Intel Datacenter Manager can offer mechanisms for discovery of connected SNMP agents and their MIBs, allowing for graphical management of some aspects of SNMP networks.

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