Network interfaces provide a connection between a system and the network. These interfaces are configured over datalinks, which in turn correspond to instances of hardware devices on the system.
Starting with Oracle Solaris 11, the network configuration on the network layer is no longer bound to the chipset or to the network topology in the hardware layer. Thus, on the datalink layer, the devices are assigned the generic name net* rather than device based names.
Figure 1 Oracle Solaris 11.4 Network Protocol Stack
This implementation makes network administration more flexible in the following ways:
Network configuration is insulated from any changes that might occur in the hardware layer. Link and interface configurations are preserved even if the underlying hardware is removed. These same configurations can then be reapplied to any replacement NIC, provided that the two NICs are of the same type.
With the abstraction of the datalink layer, multiple networking abstractions, or configurations, such as virtual local area networks (VLANs), virtual network interface cards (VNICs), physical devices, link aggregations, and IP tunnels are unified into a common, administrative entity, which is the datalink.