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The growing popularity of the Internet has caused the size and complexity of communications and computing systems to greatly increase in recent years. To alleviate this increased management complexity, novel autonomic management architectures have emerged, in which many automated components manage the network's resources in a distributed fashion. However, in order to achieve effective collaboration between these management components, they need to be able to efficiently exchange information in a timely fashion. In this article, we propose a context dissemination framework that addresses this problem. To achieve scalability, the management components are structured in a hierarchy. The framework facilitates the aggregation and translation of information as it is propagated through the hierarchy. Additionally, by way of semantics, context is filtered based on meaning and is disseminated intelligently according to dynamically changing context requirements. This significantly reduces the exchange of superfluous context and thus further increases scalability. The large size of modern federated cloud computing infrastructures, makes the presented context dissemination framework ideally suited to improve their management efficiency and scalability. The specific context requirements for the management of a cloud data center are identified, and our context dissemination approach is applied to it. Additionally, an extensive evaluation of the framework in a large-scale cloud data center scenario was performed in order to characterize the benefits of our approach, in terms of scalability and reasoning time.