Monitoring networks and switches

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http://serverfault.com – I'm new to this area when it comes to monitoring services and hardware devices. Is there anything specific I need to know? 1) Are some hardware devices more compatible then others? Like, will some not have SNMP built in? 2) When working with SNMP is it as easy as just plugging the devices IP into the web based monitoring application? 3) Is there anything from experience you have to share with me to help make my job of learning easier? (HowTos)