This paper reports on the viability, effectiveness, versatility, and the utility of the concept of the planar integrated optical interconnection scheme with respect to the concept of the free-space interconnection scheme in realizing multiple integration of various micro/nano- photonic devices and components for applications in optical interconnection, optical circuits, optical switching, optical communication and information processing. Several planar optics schemes to detect parallel optical packet addresses in WDM switching networks, to perform a space- variant processing such as fractional correlation, and to construct multistage interconnection networks, have been successfully demonstrated in the 3D glass blocks. Using a gradient-index (GRIN) substrate as a signal propagation medium in the planar optics is a unique advantage, when compared to the free-space optics. We have demonstrated the GRIN-substrate concept by using six 1/4-pitch GRIN rod lenses and a vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL). The GRIN planar optics can be further extended to the use of 2D array of VCSEL microlasers and modulators in making massively parallel interconnects. A critical comparison between the planar integrated optics scheme and the free- space integrated scheme is given in terms of physics, engineering and technological concept.