SNMP vs Netflow: Understand the difference


Introduction to SNMP & Netflow

SNMP and NetFlow are 2 widely used features in networking world.

Some of top industry tools utilizing SNMP are:

  • Solarwinds NPM,
  • OpManager by ManageEngine,
  • PRTG and
  • Nagios among others.

NetFlow is also not far behind with worth mention tools like:

  • Solarwinds NTA,
  • PRTG Network Monitor,
  • Scrutinizer and
  • ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer

utilizing NetFlow as the underlying technology.

Related- Netflow V5 vs V9

SNMP has proved to be quite a popular tool especially in network monitoring like alarms and notifications. NetFlow was initially implemented by Cisco and now adopted by many vendors. Further, NetFlow helps in capacity management and planning scalability and future requirements links and circuits.

Significance of  SNMP and NetFlow

Many times queries are raised on significance of both SNMP and NetFlow, and whether one can perform the functionalities of other.

  • Not quite so, since SNMP primarily focuses on monitoring while NetFlow helps provide detailed view of link level utilization up to application level and good for link bandwidth planning.
  • Moreover NetFlow is quite intensive on resources unlike SNMP.

One of the amazing network monitoring tool is site 24×7 , which utilizes both SNMP and Netflow to understand network behaviour, visualize the network hierarchy and solve network issues. Try Site24x7 Now!

Comparison Table: SNMP vs Netflow

Below table enumerates the difference between SNMP and NetFlow:




Real Time Yes, up to seconds Not real time
RFC 1157, 1065-67 etc.  RFC 3954, RFC 5101 etc.
CPU and memory utilization of devices SNMP provides NetFlow cant provide
Detailed bandwidth utilization Limited to Interface level i.e. high level Provides detailed bandwidth utilization up to application level, source/destination IPs, QOS etc.
Bandwidth required for exporting over WAN Very less approx. less than 1% 2-5 % of WAN bandwidth
PUSH/PULL technology PULL technology PUSH technology
Supported by Almost all devices Limited to Cisco and some vendor devices.
Usage Primarily used for device alarms and notifications including device interface utilization. Primarily used for bandwidth usage up to application, source/destination IP level.

Download the Comparison table: SNMP vs Netflow

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Are you Preparing for your Next Job Interview?

If you want to learn more about SNMP, then check our e-book on SNMP Interview Questions and Answers in easy to understand PDF Format explained with relevant Diagrams (where required) for better ease of understanding.

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