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Minshall & Ritter  IETF Draft: SNMP over AppleTalk expires 22 January 1993
SNMP over a Multi-protocol Internet Working Group
Internet Draft: draft-ietf-mpsnmp-appletalk 
 Greg Minshall
 Novell, Inc.
 Mike Ritter
 Apple Computer, Inc.
22 July 1992  (version 2.5)
 SNMP over AppleTalk
1. Status of This Memo
        This document is an Internet Draft.  Internet Drafts are working
        documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its Areas,
        and its Working Groups. Note that other groups may also distribute
        working documents as Internet Drafts.
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        as a "working draft" or "work in progress."
        Please check the I-D abstract listing contained in each Internet
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        other Internet Draft.
This draft document is being circulated for comment.  The changes recommended
by consensus in the IETF's "SNMP over a Multi-protocol Internet" working
group are incorporated, and after review it will be submitted to the RFC editor
as a Proposed Standard protocol specification.  Distribution of this memo is
2. Introduction
This memo describes the method by which the Simple Network Management Protocol
(SNMP) as specified in [1] can be used over AppleTalk protocols [2] instead of
the Internet UDP/IP protocol stack.  This specification is useful for network
elements which have AppleTalk support but lack TCP/IP support.  It should be
noted that if  a network element supports multiple protocol stacks, and UDP is
available, it is the preferred network layer to use.
SNMP has been successful in managing Internet capable network elements which
support the protocol stack at least through UDP, the connectionless Internet
transport layer protocol.  As originally designed, SNMP is capable of running
over any reasonable transport mechanism (not necessarily a transport protocol)
that supports bi-directional flow and addressability.
Many non-Internet capable network elements are present in networks. Some of
these elements are equipped with the AppleTalk protocols.  One method of using
SNMP to manage these elements is to define a method of transmitting an SNMP
message inside an AppleTalk protocol data unit.
3. Background
The AppleTalk equivalent of UDP (and IP) is DDP (Datagram Delivery Protocol).
The header field of a DDP datagram includes (at least conceptually) source and
destination network numbers, source and destination node numbers, and source
and destination socket numbers. Additionally, DDP datagrams include a "protocol
type" in the header field which may be used to further demultiplex packets.
The data portion of a DDP datagram may contain from zero to 586 octets.
AppleTalk's Name Binding Protocol (NBP) is a distributed name-to-address
mapping protocol.  NBP names are logically of the form "object:type@zone",
where "zone" is determined, loosely, by the network on which the named entity
resides; "type" is the kind of entity being named; and "object" is any string
which causes "object:type@zone" to be unique in the AppleTalk internet.
Generally, "object" also helps an end-user determine which instance of a
specific type of service is being accessed.  NBP names are not case sensitive.
Each field of the NBP name ("object", "type", and "zone") is  limited to 32
octets.  The octets usually consist of human-readable ascii characters.
4. Specification
SNMP REQUESTS encapsulated according to this standard will be sent to DDP
socket number 8; they will contain a DDP protocol type of 8.  The data octets
of the DDP datagram will be a standard SNMP message as defined in [1].
SNMP RESPONSES encapsulated according to this standard will be sent to the DDP
socket number which originated the corresponding SNMP request; they will
contain a DDP protocol type of 8.  The data octets of the DDP datagram will be
a standard SNMP message as defined in [1].  (Note:  as stated in [1], section
4.1, the *source* address of a RESPONSE PDU will be the same as the
*destination* address of the corresponding REQUEST PDU.)
A network element which is capable of responding to SNMP REQUESTS over
AppleTalk must advertise this capability via the AppleTalk Name Binding
Protocol using an NBP type of "SNMP Agent" (hex 53, 4E, 4D, 50, 20, 41,  67,
65, 6E, 74).
A network management station which is capable of receiving an SNMP TRAP must
advertise this capability via the AppleTalk Name Binding Protocol using an NBP
type of "SNMP Trap Handler" (hex 53, 4E, 4D, 50, 20, 54, 72, 61, 70, 20, 48,
61, 6E, 64, 6C, 65, 72).
SNMP TRAPS encapsulated according to this standard will be sent to DDP socket
number 9; they will contain a DDP protocol type of 8.  The data octets of the
DDP datagram will be a standard SNMP message as defined in [1].  The agent-addr
field of the Trap-PDU must be filled with a NetworkAddress of all zeros (the
unknown IP address). Thus, to identify the trap sender, the name and value of
the nbpObject and nbpZone corresponding to the nbpEntry with the nbpType equal
to "SNMP Agent" should be included in the variable-bindings of any trap that is
sent [3].
The NBP name for both an agent and a trap handler should be stable - it should
not change any more often than the IP address of a typical TCP/IP end system
changes.  It is suggested that the NBP name be stored in some form of stable
storage (PRAM, local disk, etc.).
6. Discussion of AppleTalk Addressing
6.1 Introduction
The AppleTalk protocol suite has certain features not manifest in the standard
TCP/IP suite.  Its unique naming strategy and the dynamic nature of address
assignment can cause problems for SNMP management stations that wish to manage
AppleTalk networks.  TCP/IP end nodes, as of this writing, have an associated
IP address which distinguishes each from the other.  AppleTalk end nodes, in
general, have no such characteristic.  The network level address, while often
relatively stable, can change at every reboot (or more frequently).
Thus, a thrust of this proposal is that a "name" (as opposed to an "address")
for an end system be used as the identifying attribute.  This is the
equivalent, when dealing with TCP/IP end nodes, of using the domain name.
While the mapping (DNS name, IP address) is more stable than the mapping (NBP
name, DDP address), the mapping (DNS name, IP address) is not required to exist
(eg, hosts with no host name, only an IP address). In contrast, all AppleTalk
nodes that implement this specification are required to respond to NBP lookups
and confirms (eg., implement the NBP protocol stub), which guarantees that the
mapping (NBP name, DDP address) will exist.
In determining the SNMP name to register for an agent, it is suggested that the
SNMP name be a name which is associated with other network services offered by
the machine.  On a Macintosh system, for example, it is suggested that the
system name (the "Macintosh Name" for System 7.0 which is used to advertise
file sharing, program-to-program communication, and possibly other services) be
used as the "object" field of the NBP name.  This name has AppleTalk
significance, and is tightly bound to the network's concept of a given system's
NBP lookups, which are used to turn NBP names into DDP addresses, can cause
large amounts of network traffic as well as consume CPU resources. It is also
the case that the ability to perform an NBP lookup is sensitive to certain
network disruptions (such as zone table inconsistencies, etc.) which would not
prevent direct AppleTalk communications between a management station and an
Thus, it is recommended that NBP lookups be used infrequently with the primary
purpose being to create a cache of name-to-address mappings. These cached
mappings should then be used for any further SNMP requests. It is recommended
that SNMP management stations maintain this cache between reboots.  This
caching can help minimize network traffic, reduce CPU load on the network, and
allow for (some amount of) network trouble shooting when the basic
name-to-address translation mechanism is broken.
6.2 How To Acquire NBP names:
A management station may have a pre-configured list of names of agents to
manage. A management station may allow for an interaction with an operator in
which a list of manageable agents is acquired (via NBP) and presented for the
operator to choose which agents should be managed by that management station.
Finally, a management station may manage all manageable agents in a set of
zones or networks.
An agent must be configured with the name of a specific management station or
group of management stations before sending SNMP traps.  In the absence of any
such configured information, an agent is NOT to generate any SNMP traps.  In
particular, an agent is NEVER to initiate a wildcard NBP lookup to find a
management station to receive a trap.  All NBP lookups generated by an agent
must be fully specified.  Note, however, that this does not apply to a
configuration utility that might be associated with such an agent.  Such a
utility may well allow a user to navigate around the network to select a
management station or stations to receive SNMP traps from the agent.
6.3 When To Turn NBP Names Into Addresses:
When SNMP agents or management stations use a cache entry to address an SNMP
packet, they should attempt to confirm the mapping if it hasn't been confirmed
in T1 seconds.  This cache entry lifetime, T1, has a minimum, default value of
60 seconds.  This value should be configurable.
A management station may decide to prime its cache of names prior to actually
sending any SNMP requests to any given agent.  In general, it is expected that
a management station may want to keep certain mappings "more current" than
other mappings.  In particular, those nodes which represent the network
infrastructure (routers, etc.) may be deemed "more important" by the management
Note, however, that a long-running management station starting up and reading a
configuration file containing a number of NBP names should not attempt to prime
its cache all at once.  It should, instead, issue the resolutions over an
extended period of time (perhaps in some pre-determined or configured priority
order).  Each resolution might, in fact, be a wildcard lookup in a given zone.
An agent should NEVER prime its cache.  It should do NBP lookups (or confirms)
only when it needs to send an SNMP trap to a given management station.  An
agent does not need to confirm a cache entry to reply to a request.
6.4 How To Turn NBP Names Into Addresses:
If the only piece of information available is the NBP name, then an NBP lookup
should be performed to turn that name into a DDP address.
However, if there is a piece of stale information, it can be used as a hint to
perform an NBP confirm (which sends a unicast to the network address which is
presumed to be the target of the name lookup) to see if the stale information
is, in fact, still valid.
An NBP name to DDP address mapping can also be confirmed implicitly using only
SNMP transactions.  If a management station is sending a get-request, it can
add a request, in the same packet, for the destination's nbpObject and nbpZone
corresponding to the nbpEntry with the nbpType equal to "SNMP Agent"  [3].
The source DDP address can be gleaned from the reply and used with the
nbpObject and nbpZone returned to confirm the cache entry.
The above notwithstanding, for set-requests, there is a race condition that can
occur where an SNMP request may go to the wrong agent (because the old node
went down and a new node came up with the same DDP address.)  This is
problematic becase the wrong agent might generate a response packet that the
management station could not distinguish from a reply from the intended agent.
In the future, when SNMP security is implemented, each packet is authenticated
at the destination, and the reply should implicitly confirm the validity of the
cache entry used and prevent this race condition.
6.5 What if NBP is broken:
Under some circumstances, there may be connectivity between a management
station and an agent, but the NBP machinery required to turn an NBP name into a
DDP address may be broken.  Examples of failures which would cause this
include:  NBP FwdReq (forward NBP lookup onto locally attached network) broken
at a router on the network containing the agent; NBP BrRq (NBP broadcast
request) mechanism broken at a router on the network containing the managment
station (because of a zone table mis-configuration, for example); or NBP broken
in the target node.
A management station which is dedicated to AppleTalk management might choose to
alleviate some of these failures by implementing the router portion of NBP
within the management station itself.  For example, the management station
might already know all the zones on the AppleTalk internet and the networks on
which each zone appears.  Given an NBP lookup which fails, the management
station could send an NBP FwdReq to the network in which the agent was last
located.  If that failed, the station could then send an NBP LkUp (an NBP
lookup packet) as a directed (DDP) multicast to each network number on that
network.  Of the above (single) failures, this combined approach will solve the
case where either the local router's BrRq to NBP FwdReq mechanism is broken or
the remote router's NBP FwdReq to NBP LkUp mechanism is broken.
6.6 How to Represent NBP Names in MIBs
There are occasions when it is necessary to represent a transport
service address in a MIB.  For instance, the SNMP party MIB [6] uses
an OBJECT IDENTIFIER to define the transport domain (IP, AppleTalk, etc.)
and an OCTET STRING to represent an address within that domain.  The
following definitions are provided for use in such a scheme.
                    FROM RFC1155-SMI;
               OBJECT IDENTIFIER ::= { experimental xx }  -- xx TBD --
               OBJECT IDENTIFIER ::= { snmpOverAppleTalk 1}
-- An ATAddress is an octet string with a maximum length of 99 octets.  The
-- layout of an NBP name as an ATaddress is similar to a `packed Pascal string'
-- format: It consists of six fields: three length fields a single octet
-- long, and three fields, up to thirty-two octets in length each,  in the
-- following order: length field, object field, length field, type field,
-- length field, zone field. The layout of the octet string for the ATAddress
-- of an SNMP Agent on the machine named `theDragon' in the zone
-- `DA3/Nets-R-Us' would be:
-- 0x09`theDragon'0x0A`SNMP Agent'0x0D`DA3/Nets-R-Us',
-- where 0xNN implies a length octet in hexidecimal and the quoted strings
-- represent ascii characters. The object, type, and zone fields may contain
-- any octet except 0xFF and are case-insensitive [3].
-- When devices are installed, they need to be configured with an
-- initial set of SNMP parties.  The configuration of SNMP parties
-- requires (among other things) the assignment of several  OBJECT
-- IDENTIFIERs.  Any local network administration can obtain the
-- delegated authority necessary to assign its own OBJECT IDENTIFIERs.
-- However, to cater for those administrations who have not obtained
-- the necessary authority, this document allocates a branch of the
-- naming tree for use with the following conventions.
initialAppleTalkPartyId OBJECT IDENTIFIER ::=
                    {  snmpOverAppleTalk 2 }
-- This prefix is used in an analogous fashion as
--      initialPartyId
-- as defined in [6].  For an SNMP protocol entity residing at
-- AppleTalk transport address 'N', the identities of its six initial
-- parties are formed by appending a subidentifier for each octet in the
-- AppleTalk TransportAddress, to
--        initialAppleTalkPartyId
7. Acknowledgements
Some of the boilerplate in this memo is copied from [4],  [5], and [7].  The
Apple-IP Working Group was instrumental in defining this document.
Their support and work was greatly appreciated.
8. References
[1] Case, J., M. Fedor, M. Schoffstall, M., and J. Davin, "A Simple Network
Management Protocol (SNMP)", RFC 1157, May 1990.
[2] Sidhu, G., R. Andrews, and A. Oppenheimer, "Inside AppleTalk (Second
Edition)", Addison-Wesley, 1990.
[3] Waldbusser, Steven, "AppleTalk Management Information Base", RFC 1243,
August 1991.
[4] Schoffstall, M., C. Davin, M. Fedor, and J. Case, "SNMP over Ethernet", RFC
1089, February 1989.
[5] Bostock , Steve, "SNMP over IPX" (draft to replace RFC 1298)
[6] McCloghrie, K., Davin, J., and J. Galvin, "Definitions of Managed Objects
for Administration of SNMP Parties", RFC in preparation.
[7]  Piscitello, Dave, "Guidelines for the Specification of Protocol Support of
the SNMP", RFC in preparation.
10. Authors' Addresses
Greg Minshall
Novell, Inc.
1340 Treat Blvd, ste. 500
Walnut Creek, CA  94596
Phone: 510 947-0998
Fax:   510 947-1238
Mike Ritter
Apple Computer, Inc.
10500 North De Anza Boulevard, MS: 35-K
Cupertino, California 95014
Phone: 408 862-8088
Fax:   408 862-1159
Minshall & Ritter  IETF Draft: SNMP over AppleTalk expires 22 January 1993