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Networks cannot be managed without communication among geographically distributed network devices and control agents. Unfortunately, computer networks today lack an autonomic mechanism that enables such communications, and the stopgap solutions used in practice are seriously flawed. To address the problem, this paper presents the design and implementation of the Meta-Management System (MMS), a network-layer subsystem that provides robust and universal support for management plane communications. The MMS is autonomic, able to self-configure, self-heal, self-optimize, and self-protect. Furthermore, it is efficient, scalable, and evolvable. The paper demonstrates the practicality of the MMS via a fully functional implementation that runs on commodity hardware. The MMS software is freely available.
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