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Today, Forward Networks announced a new version of its network tracking software with expanded ability to track and debug the packets flowing in hybrid networks, especially those linking together multiple clouds and local, on-premise networks. The tool creates a “digital twin” that can help network engineers pinpoint bottlenecks or failed nodes, a process that’s especially useful when networks span different clouds built from hardware from different vendors.
“We know that, in reality, every network is a hybrid network,” said Chiara Regale, the VP of product and user experience for Forward Networks, in an interview. “We spent a lot of time talking to cloud users to understand their pain points, and everybody told us, ‘I still have too many tools. When a problem occurs, I don’t know where to start.’”
The new version of Forward Enterprise, its flagship product, offers what it likes to call a “single pane of glass,” where all of the statistics about the network nodes are available in one glance. This dashboard normalizes the data gathered from all the machines so they’re all presented in the same way with the same consistent statistics.
The tool also offers help to security engineers by constantly auditing the security parameters and access rules being used throughout the network. If any machine becomes misconfigured, the system will generate an alert.
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“Are the cloud connections proper? Are the security policies configured as the end user would like? Are the security groups in compliance? This is what Forward will be able to always guarantee by applying our network verification engine to the cloud as well,” explained Regale.
In the past, this feature would have been valuable to companies that are rapidly expanding or merging with others. Regale tells the story of one banking client who merged with an overseas company in Asia. One used AWS while the other used Google. The network engineers were forced to constantly shift from one set of tools to another to diagnose problems after the merger began. A single interface will make it much easier to watch over these hybrid networks in the future.
Devops teams and network managers are increasingly looking for tools like Forward Networks to handle the increasingly complex flows. Some rely upon tools directly from the hardware manufacturers, like Cisco. Forward Networks’ rivals include Netbrain, SolarWinds, Infoblox and Gluware.
This database is the foundation for answering essential questions that may be asked by network and security engineers. Forward estimates that its tool can speed up many essential questions, making it easier for engineers to ask them during routine maintenance or a moment of crisis. Route map validation, for instance, was something that may have taken nine hours before, but Forward estimates that its system reduces the time to 16 seconds. Route table consistency may only take two minutes to evaluate to look for misconfiguration.
Forward Networks was founded in 2013 with a mission to make networks agile, predictable and secure. Lately, it has been expanding the data it captures when surveying the network to construct the digital twin, while also building bridges to the major cloud and network hardware vendors. The next edition of Forward Enterprise will work with the major cloud providers (AWS, Azure and GCP) as well the major routers.
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