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Automatic discovery of physical topology in support of network management is essential for Ethernet to succeed in metropolitan networks. Nevertheless, to date there is no mechanism capable of automatically discovering the physical topology of Ethernet networks in a heterogeneous multi-vendor environment. This paper introduces such a mechanism. The algorithm collects information available even in low-cost off-the-shelf Ethernet switches, calculates the physical topology of the entire network and keeps the topological view updated during normal network operation as changes in the topology occur. This paper describes the method and its implementation in a test-bed network for assessing the performance and the robustness of the mechanism.
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