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I too have some problems that resemble yours. When looking for a particular host with the mac or IP, I can't find it. In particular, I am searching on a layer3 switch with multiple VLANs. I can search the ARP table with no luck as well.
Anyone out there have any ideas?
Have you done a ping scan of the network first from another VLAN or network to populate the arp cache of the layer3 device, or forwarding table of the layer2 device?
What type of switches are you both using? If you have newer cisco switches you can find the port locations of the mac addresses by using the following command from enable mode.
show mac-address-table address hhhh.hhhh.hhhh
(h representing the mac address of the client you are looking for)
this will give you the exact port number where the mac address lies off of. also use the command
show arp | include hhhh.hhhh.hhhh or ip address
to find the ip or mac address and their associated layer 2 or layer 3 address