Gartner Research

Network Topology Discovery

Published: 06 March 2008

ID: G00203412

Analyst(s): Eric Siegel


Automatic, frequent discovery of the network's topology is a crucial part of any network management system, and it can be surprisingly difficult. Diagnostic systems rely on the topology to understand network element dependencies, and changes in the topology may indicate rogue devices, security problems, or configuration errors. Comprehensive discovery must be able to handle security devices and transient, legitimate paths; it must also identify all of the addresses and the types of the network and user devices. This overview, by Senior Analyst Eric Siegel, examines the market drivers, user requirements, discovery technologies, and evaluation criteria for network topology discovery tools.

Table Of Contents



  • Use Cases
  • Topology Discovery Issues
    • Finding Unresponsive Network Elements
    • Penetrating Firewalls, Access Control, and NAT
    • Mapping Without Permission
    • Discovering Aggregation
    • Grouping Node Addresses
    • Associating Layer 2 and Layer 3 Addresses
    • Handling Rerouting
    • Discovering Interconnection Topology
    • Detecting Change Quickly
  • Topology Discovery Technologies
  • Recommendations

The Details

  • Topology Discovery Example
  • Topology Discovery Technologies
    • SNMP
    • Spanning Tree
    • Specialized Topology-Discovery Protocols
    • Directory Lookup and Protocol Monitoring
    • Ping
    • ARP
    • Traceroute
    • Record Route
    • Routing Tables


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