What is Control Plane & Data plane?

The control plane in general is anything that’s needed in order to get routing working on that device; in other words, it is the “signalling” of the network. Control plane packets are destined to or locally originated by the router itself. This is really what separates the concept of the control and data plane.

For example OSPF going to the router is process switched, which means that the general purpose CPU has to handle it. Management protocols, like Telnet, SSH, SNMP, etc. could be considered part of the control plane, but are more properly considered part of the Management Plane, which is a specific subset of the control plane.

Data plane called as the Forwarding Plane, this is basically anything that goes *through* the router, and not *to* the router. The protocol or application itself does not really determine whether the traffic is control, management, or data plane, but more importantly how the router processes it.

For example suppose we have a simple 3 router topology that is R1–R2–R3 .If R1 Telnets to R3, on both of these routers the packets need to be handled by the control/management plane. However from R2′s perspective this is just data plane traffic that is transiting between its links.

In simple way you can think of this is that control plane traffic is traffic that is originated by, or destined to the router itself. Data plane traffic can be simply described as traffic that is not destined to or originated by the router, but traffic that is “just passing through” to get to other destinations.


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