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Forward Networks, a Palo Alto, California-based startup building tools to tackle network visibility and modeling challenges, today announced that it’s secured $35 million in a series C round led by customer Goldman Sachs, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Threshold Ventures, and A.Capital. The fresh funds follow on the heels of series A and B rounds totaling $27 million and bring Forward Networks‘ total raised to $62.1 million. CEO David Erickson says the money will bolster the expansion of Forward Networks’ sales, marketing, and R&D programs.
“Our customers are seeing dramatic improvements in network availability and operational efficiency by deploying Forward Enterprise,” said Erickson, a Stanford computer science graduate and the author of Beacon, the communications protocol controller at the core of products from Big Switch Networks, Cisco, and others. “This round of funding is key to expanding our efforts to bring network verification to enterprise customers.”
Forward Networks — which Erickson cofounded with CTO Brandon Heller, Nikhil Handigol, and Peyman Kazemian in 2016 — develops a platform that documents, searches, and anticipates the behavior of networks by creating an up-to-date copy of their infrastructures. A mapping component maintains topological diagrams complete with detailed inventories of hardware and software across vendors and versions, while predictive algorithms identify connectivity issues and security policy violations in real time.
With Forward Networks’ search tool, IT admins can quickly surface behavioral and configuration information, including devices and their corresponding connections. They’re able to perform end-to-end path analysis for on-premises, virtual, and cloud environments to verify a given subnetwork is behaving as intended. And they can continuously monitor networks for noncompliance, as well as snapshot changes in rules, files, routes, and more for posterity.
Forward Networks’ API enables clients to integrate its suite into existing network management workflow and tools. They can create apps that show network paths and automate tasks (like updating device credentials), and that create checks from both first-party and third-party policy resources.
Those capabilities evidently impressed the folks at Goldman Sachs, which this past year scaled its deployment of Forward Networks’ enterprise offering to its entire network of over 15,000 devices. “In the past year, we have scaled our deployment of Forward Enterprise to our entire network of over 15,000 devices. Our network engineering team relies on the Forward platform to be the single source of truth for our network,” said Goldman Sachs managing director of technology Joshua Matheus. “It’s a critical component for automating our infrastructure,” said Joshua Matheus, Managing Director, Technology at Goldman Sachs. “The team here has been so impressed with the scalability and network analysis functionality of Forward Networks’ solution that we decided to lead its funding round.”
Forward Networks competes with startups like Veriflow, which has raised $11.1 million to date for its suite of continuous network verification apps and services. But it’s made a mark for itself in enterprise segments like finance, travel, and IT, according to Andreessen Horowitz’s Bill Krause, where roughly five outages per month at a cost of $740,000 per outage isn’t uncommon Other heavy-hitting customers in Forward Networks’ growing roster include Ubisoft, PayPal, and Telstra.
“We continue to see the value that Forward Networks’ platform brings to large enterprises running complex networks,” said Krause. “They have solved a critical business problem, which presents a real growth opportunity.”
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