Network - data plane

The data plane, also referred to as the forwarding plane or the user plane, is a concept in networking architecture that refers to the portion of the network where user data is transferred.

The data plane is responsible for the encapsulation, transport, manipulation, and delivery of the user data.

The data plane handles data transmission between end devices, or hosts. Data plane traffic is typically transient to network devices such as routers and switches. The content of data plane traffic can include anything from web browsing data to video streaming to voice over IP data.

The data plane is separate from the control plane, which determines how packets should be forwarded (routing and switching decisions) and maintains the information needed to make those decisions. While the control plane is about making decisions, the data plane is about actioning those decisions, i.e., moving data from one place to another.