I would like to share an interesting experience of using the SNMP protocol for centralized monitoring of printer availability and parameters. My company does quite a lot of printing. The pool of printing units includes various printers and MFU – large printers as well as medium and small SOHO (Small Office Home Office) class ones. All of them are network devices of predominantly two manufacturers – HP and Canon. About a year ago the company management set the task of collecting data for analysis of their functioning – availability, downtime, workload, and consumption of paper, cartridges, and other consumables and spare parts. Besides, some data should be promptly submitted to the senior executives of both our internal providing services and external servicing companies. In my opinion, collecting information from printer statistics pages every day is ‘tiresome’ because there are rather a lot of printers in the organization. The option with parsing statistics web pages did not suit us for the reason of heterogeneity and the absence of static web addresses. I decided to use SNMP. SNMP — is a UDP-based protocol for control and monitoring. Almost all devices having a network interface support this protocol and allow using it to collect performance data. Data available via the SNMP protocol are also arranged in hierarchical order (OID). So it turns out that one can request the printer for an OID value with a definite number. Using special utility programs – server monitoring tools – makes the monitoring of printers far more convenient. Personally, I am using IPHost Network Monitor. This program allows an automatic search for all printers and other network-enabled devices (network discovery), carrying out data collection on the functioning of printing units, generating primary reports for subsequent analysis, and send timely alerts when performance or availability problems occur. Monitoring system usage has shown: 1. The printer manufacturers try to keep to a uniform MIB structure and accordingly the group of OIDS (printer-accounting): will be common for all HP printers, which can be actually received via SNMP. There are such OIDS in it as: printed-media-duplex-count (duplex printing – two-sided printing) media3-page-count (A3 size printing). – 2. There may arise a problem with getting specific information on required printer because OIDs can be different with different printer manufacturers. IPHost Network Monitor can request information on all possible OIDs for the printer and has a built-in MIB browser. 3. For device identification in the other company departments and just for clearness it is better to use the printer serial number, net name, IP as a monitor name. IPHost Network Monitor deserves a special recommendation as a solution for printer monitoring. This program significantly simplifies the monitoring of printing equipment because of: – supports printers of most manufacturers; – does not require profound SNMP protocol knowledge; – automatically scans the network and finds printing and other equipment; – allows setting a real-time monitoring of the condition of network printers in real time; – has an advanced notification system; – has a web interface for remote control of availability and performance. After implementation of paper consumption monitoring, I can see several steps to enhance the SNMP monitoring of printers in our company: – monitoring for paper supply – control print queues – control the refilling of cartridges and consumption of inks and toners – keep a record of consumables for copiers, scanners, and multifunction printers (MFP)


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