What Is a Management Information Base or MIB 

3 min

All about Manage Information Base

A Management Information Base (MIBs) imposes a hierarchy on dense network information in real time. These distributed databases define an overarching schema that helps turn raw data into effective high-level feedback. 

Do you depend on protocols like SNMP or dashboard apps to monitor your company network? Does the OSI model play a significant role in how you architect services and software? Understanding MIBs is critical to putting standard conceptual and practical tools like these to good use, so keep reading.

Head over to our comprehensive guide on how SNMP works if you’re just learning about the technology. 

A couple of words about what we do at Domotz. We’re a network device monitoring software for managing your IT systems. We’ve also got features for automatic network topology diagrams, SNMP monitoring, network configuration management, and much more.

What Is a Management Information Base or MIB?

MIBs are a type of virtual database whose records serve a specific purpose. They store information about the devices you’re monitoring on your network. 

Another way to put it is that a MIB is a collection of managed objects that are each represented by a unique object identifier (OID). Each managed object contains at least one variable – the fine-grained data points are also associated with independent OIDs.

Since the MIB’s structure corresponds to a tree hierarchy, it can store two primary flavors of managed objects:

  • Records referring to single data points, also known as scalar-managed objects, or 
  • Tabular objects – tables refer to groups or subtrees of data points or other records.

Learn all about how to find SNMP OIDS for monitoring.

What Is a Management Information Base or MIB Conceptually?

MIBS interfaces between the tools you use to probe your network – everything from command line programs to full-fledged web apps – and the individual devices you want to monitor. 

MIBs can aggregate data streams into searchable feeds, making it easier to understand what’s happening. Internally, they accomplish this by defining a schema that classifies different kinds of network data. 

What does a Management Information Base or MIB do?

MIBs can store and retrieve managed objects containing a broad range of operational data. For instance, you might query a Cisco, VMware, HP, or Nortel device to fetch diagnostics corresponding to how much traffic was going through a router, the CPU usage for each of the servers in a cluster, or a server rack’s power consumption.

When you make a query to get information about some managed device, you’re letting the MIB know: “Hey, database! Tell me about that router, cluster, or another clever part of my network setup.” 

Of course, you’ll be more formal than that: You’ll have to refer to the data object you’re interested in using its OID. This sequence of period-separated integers uniquely identifies the thing. 

MIB Object Types 

When the MIB returns its answer, it’ll either be a single scalar object or a collection – the tabular object type. It may represent a single layer of scalar objects or other tabular sub-objects if it’s tabular.

Scalar objects correspond to a limited number of data types – and each type can store a specific kind of value. As defined in the relevant standard, ASN.1, valid primitive data types include integers, boolean values, timestamps, enumerated types, and strings. Objects can also store other sequences of ASN.1 data types and OIDs. 

MIB Use Cases and Wrap-up

In addition to private MIBs created to reflect network information at an organizational level, public MIBs represent specific device manufacturers and hardware. There are also commonly used MIBs for different protocols, such as TCP, UDP, SNMP, and Fibre Channels.

To summarize, a MIB is a database that corrals network monitoring information using an object-based schema. It lets users query information using OIDs corresponding to the objects they’re interested in – and also supplies frontend applications, alert systems, and topology visualizations with organized, timely data.

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