SDN/SDDC Retreat in Miami, Florida (November 4th-6th)
Separate SDN hype from real life!

Control and Data planes in a router

Every now and then I feel the need to write a very basic article, explaining the foundations and getting the terminology straight. Today I’m trying to explain the control and data planes in a router (or a layer-3 switch, depending on your marketing bias). Your opinions, fixes, corrections and all other comments are most welcome.


  1. YES YES YES! There should be more of these articles coming. There are more than CCIEs reading here.

  2. Hi; as always this article is much appreciated. I don't mean to be nitpicking here but shouldn't the following line be corrected?

    "They can pre-compute the actual forwarding data for every destination and store them in the forwarding table that can be directly used by the CONTROL plane."

  3. @Anonymous: thanks for the heads-up. I'll do my best :)

    @Netadminion: You're absolutely right. Thanks for the correction, I've fixed the text.


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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354 Emeritus, is an independent network architect. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.