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Networking Planes Management , Control and Data Planes

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Today I wanted to talk about the NSX-T Network Plane very basic thing many might know and many might still not know . I thought about it to put in the basic straight forward understanding of the NSX networking planes. I am no expert of NSX this is my understand about the Network Plane.


Networking Planes


Networks use the data forwarding process to carry user traffic from one device to another device.

Networks include three layers or planes: management, control, and data. These planes coordinate with each other to identify the best possible path between devices.


Management, Control, and Data Planes


The main elements of NSX architecture are the management, control, and data planes. This architectural separation lets you scale your environment without impacting workloads.

Although not part of NSX, an additional plane, called the consumption plane, provides integration into a cloud management platform.



Management control and data plane in NSX


Management Plane :


In the management plane, the following functions are performed:

  • Users manage, configure, and monitor the network devices, such as a switch or router.

  • The network device usually provides a CLI or GUI for configuring the network and the device. The CLI or GUI operates in the management plane.

In NSX, the management plane is designed with advanced clustering technology, which allows the platform to process large-scale concurrent API requests. NSX Manager provides the REST API and a web-based UI interface entry point for all user configurations.


Control Plane :


The control plane is the brains of a network:

  • It calculates and determines the best path for a packet to navigate from one device to another device. Routing protocols, such as BGP, OSPF, RIP, primarily operate in this layer.

  • After determining the best path, the control plane propagates this information to the data plane.

The control plane is responsible for computing and distributing the runtime virtual networking and security state of the NSX environment.


In NSX, the management plane and control plane are converged. Each manager node in NSX is an appliance with converged functions, including management, control, and policy.


Data Plane :


The data plane, also called the forwarding plane, performs the following functions:

  • Forwards the user traffic between the networking devices, such as switches or routers

  • Carries the user traffic from one device to another device, which is the fundamental function of a network

The control and management planes help the data plane to perform effective data forwarding.


In NSX, the data plane includes transport nodes. Transport nodes, such as ESXi hosts and NSX Edge nodes, are responsible for the distributed forwarding of network traffic.


The data plane includes a virtual distributed switch managed by NSX-T (N-VDS), which decouples the data plane from vCenter Server and normalizes the networking connectivity. The ESXi hosts managed by vCenter Server can also be configured to use the vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS) during the transport node preparation.


Additionally lets also talk about what is cloud consumption plane this is not part of NSX-T Data center


Cloud Consumption Plane :


Although the consumption plane is not part of NSX-T Data Center, this plane provides integration into cloud management platforms through the REST API and integration with VMware cloud management planes such as vRealize Automation:

  • The consumption of NSX-T Data Center can be driven directly through the NSX UI.

  • Typically, end users tie network virtualization to their cloud management plane for deploying applications.


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