Resources and methods on an API can be divided into the plane that they reside or perform operations upon. For the context of APIs, the following planes are defined:

  • Management plane: a uniform, resource-oriented API that primarily configures and allows retrieval of resources.
  • Data plane: a heterogenous API (ideally resource-oriented) that reads and write user data. Often connects to entities provisioned by the management plane, such as virtual machines.

The term "plane" was originally used in networking architecture. Although system and network architecture often defines additional planes (e.g. control plane or power planes), as the AIPs are focused on the interface, they are not defined in this AIP.


Management Plane

Management resources and methods exist primarily to provision, configure, and audit the resources that the data plane interfaces with.

As an example, the following are considered management resources for a cloud provider:

  • virtual machines
  • virtual private networks
  • virtual disks
  • a blob store instance
  • a project or account

Data Plane

Methods on the data plane operate on user data in a variety of data formats, and generally interface with a resource provisioned via a management plane API. Examples of data plane methods include:

  • writing and reading rows in a table
  • pushing to or pulling from a message queue
  • uploading blobs to or downloading blobs from a blob store instance

Data plane APIs may be heterogenous across a larger API surface, due to requirements including high throughput, low latency, or the need to adhere to an existing interface specification (e.g. ANSI SQL).

  • For convenience, resources and methods that operate on the data plane may expose themselves via resource-oriented management APIs. If so, those resources and methods must adhere to the requirements of the management plane as specified in the other AIPs (AIP-131 through AIP-135).

Major distinctions between management and data plane

  • Declarative clients operate on the management plane exclusively.
  • Data planes are often on the critical path of user-facing functionality, and therefore:
    • Have higher availabilty requirements than management planes.
    • Are more peformance-sensitive than management planes.
    • Require higher-throughput than management planes.


  • 2023-06-10: Introduction of this AIP.