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No Bad Questions About Network

Definition of Control plane

What is the control plane?

The control plane acts as a network's brain, dictating how data travels from point A to point B. It's the mastermind behind data packet forwarding, ensuring information reaches its intended destination efficiently. 


  • In networking, routing protocols like BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) determine how routers communicate and share information about available paths for data packets.
  • In software-defined networking (SDN), the control plane software that configures and manages switches and routers.

What is a data plane?

Data plane is the network's "muscle," responsible for the actual movement of data packets, ensuring they travel smoothly from their origin to their final destination. 

Some examples of using a data plane:

  • In networking, the hardware components of a router forward data packets according to the routing table populated by the control plane.
  • In a web server, the software processes incoming requests and sends out responses.

What is the difference between the control plane and the data plane?

Both planes work together to ensure smooth and efficient data flow. Now, let's delve into their key differences:

Control plane is the strategist

  • Manages and controls the entire network.
  • Defines how data travels.
  • Creates and maintains routing tables, the network's roadmap.
  • Establishes security policies to keep data safe.
  • Chooses the best paths for data packets to travel.
  • Maps the network layout.
  • Monitors network health, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Data plane is the delivery force

  • Forwards data packets to their intended destinations.
  • Receives and inspects packets.
  • Verifies successful delivery, like a package confirmation.
  • Queues packets efficiently to avoid network congestion.
  • Ensures packets reach their recipients without errors.
  • Demultiplexes data packets, sorting them for their final addresses.

In essence, the control plane makes decisions about how data should flow, and the data plane executes those decisions, ensuring the actual delivery of information.

Key Takeaways

  • The control plane is the network's brain, making strategic decisions about data flow, such as determining paths for data packets, establishing routing tables, and maintaining network health. It manages network components using protocols like BGP and software in SDN.
  • The data plane is the network's muscle, responsible for the actual movement of data packets from their origin to their final destination. It forwards packets based on the control plane's routing decisions, processes incoming requests on web servers, and ensures efficient, error-free delivery.
  • The control plane makes the decisions, and the data plane carries them out, working together to ensure smooth and efficient data flow.

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