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In computing, the data plane is the part of the software that processes the data requests.[1] By contrast, the control plane is the part of the software that configures and shuts down the data plane.[2]

The conceptual separation of the data plane from the control plane has been done for years.[2] An early example is Unix, where the basic file operations are open, close for the control plane and read, write for the data plane.[3] Another example is from object oriented programming languages that differentiates between class, method(s) and instance methods.[4][5]

The distinction has proven useful in the networking field where it originated (in networking, the data plane is sometimes referred to as the forwarding plane), as it separates the concerns: the data plane is optimized for speed of processing, and for simplicity and regularity.[6][7] The control plane is optimized for customizability, handling policies, handling exceptional situations, and in general facilitating and simplifying the data plane processing.[6][7]


  1. ^ Conran, Matt (2019-02-25). "Named data networking: Stateful forwarding plane for datagram delivery". Network World. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  2. ^ a b Do, Truong-Xuan; Kim, Younghan (2017-06-01). "Control and data plane separation architecture for supporting multicast listeners over distributed mobility management". ICT Express. 3 (2): 90–95. doi:10.1016/j.icte.2017.06.001. ISSN 2405-9595.
  3. ^ Bach, Maurice J. (1986). The Design of the Unix Operating System. Prentice-Hall.
  4. ^ "Instance vs. Static vs. Class Methods in Python: The Important Differences". MakeUseOf. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  5. ^ O'Garro, Jamal (2015-08-08). "Understanding the Difference Between Functions and Methods in Objective-C". Medium. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  6. ^ a b Ahmad, Ijaz; Namal, Suneth; Ylianttila, Mika; Gurtoz, Andrei (2015). "Security in Software Defined Networks: A Survey" (PDF). IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials. 17 (4): 2317–2342. doi:10.1109/COMST.2015.2474118.
  7. ^ a b Xia, W.; Wen, Y.; Foh, C. H.; Niyato, D.; Xie, H. (2015). "A Survey on Software-Defined Networking". IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials. 17 (1): 27–51. doi:10.1109/COMST.2014.2330903.