Networking Questions

I have two questions to toss out to anyone who'd care to speak up.
When interfacing one or more PLCs with one or more HMIs or operator
interface devices, isn't it usually necessary to have additional software to manage the network communications (on the computers where the HMI is resident)?
The next question is: what kinds of features does most communications software have in common? (protocols cannot be one of them, for the most part, as they are specific to PLC manufacturers.)
The reason I post this question is because the subject of networking is often abstract, "out there in the ether."
Thanks in advance,
mh
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A few answers:

to
There are many different types of systems. You have to be brand specific. What do you mean "additional" software? If your product has it included, then it's not additional.

Protocols is definitely one of them. Open systems are the rule on new installations. Avoid vendor specific stuff.

often abstract,

Nope. There are well known options and people who know how to apply them.
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