networking middleware


there are a few companies out there (for example, "IPinfusion" and its ZebOS platform) delivering , as they call it, networking middleware providing support of Layer 2/3 routing and switching protocols (as they claim, VLANs, MAC bridging, 802.1x authentication, spanning tree protocols etc.).

I quite realize that routing protocols are very tightly bound to TCP/IP stack of an operating system; but in my understanding, the Layer2 features I mentioned above, are mainly implemented in hardware, so what would be done in software then, what is the use of such software? Is such a middleware serving as a abstraction layer betwenn ASIC and OS ?

Thanks in advance.

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