Forward Networks: Product Overview and Insight

Forward Networks' software platform enables network and applications teams to verify intent and predict network behavior, Forward’s solution brings the benefits of intent-based networking to large enterprises: agility, predictability, and scalability.


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Company Name: Forward Networks (intent-based networking)

Company description: Forward Networks is a privately held company led by CEO and co-founder, David Erickson.

The company provides a robust network assurance and verification platform to reduce business risk and improve network operations. By enabling network and applications teams to verify intent and predict network behavior, Forward’s solution brings the benefits of intent-based networking to large enterprises: agility, predictability, and scalability.

Forward Networks was founded in 2013 by four Stanford Ph.D. graduates and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, DFJ and A.Capital. For more information, go here.

The high-level vision of an IBN network is simple: It’s a network that runs itself based on the intent of a given set of commands.

The best way to describe an IBN is that it’s a closed-loop, autonomous system. This means it’s self-operating and requires no human input. A good analogy is to consider the difference between a self-driving car and automation features. Newer cars are loaded with automation capabilities, such as parallel park assist–with which a car can park itself. However, the operator of the vehicle needs to make the decision to park in that spot.

Regional Markets: Forward Networks has offices in Palo Alto, Calif. and New York City and serves customers in North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific.

International Operations: Forward Networks has some development and executive staff in Europe and plans to add regional sales teams in EMEA in 2019.

Product and Services

  • Forward Enterprise – proactively isolates network configuration errors that can lead to outages, while predicting and verifying the behavior of your network using an accurate end-to-end software model of the entire infrastructure, from on-premises through the cloud.
  • Forward Essentials – A freely licensed product to document and manage network details. Includes collection of all network device configurations and state information, text-based search across devices and topology mapping.

Key Features

  • Forward Enterprise: The full-featured platform includes intent-based search and verification, end-to-end path analysis of network behavior, comparative analytics between points in time and network query engine API.
  • Forward Essentials: Collects and organizes data about your network automatically, producing an always up-to-date topology and inventory. Configuration and state data is searchable network-wide across all your devices.

Insight and Analysis

Gartner Peer Insights had four reviews of Forward Enterprise as of Feb. 15, 2019.  Perspectives from professionals include:

Overall Comment: "Forward Networks has really impressed us. It's a very ambitious solution they're providing and the quality of both their engineering and support have proven to be really top notch. I'm a tools engineer myself, so I understand how hard it is to do what they've done with this product. At our scale many tools just get crushed. Theirs held up really well under a vigorous POC and just keeps getting better."

Overall Comment: "Good experience with Forward Networks, all team are very competent and helped me to POC with my customer. The search feature are very impressive when you try in a complex network. The predict feature eases the modify in the infrastructure. This product is a good choice to reduce the time and costs on enterprice customer."

[Editor's note: More analysis will be added here soon.]

List of current customers: PayPal, Telstra, Verizon, Bank of America

Delivery:  Software delivered on-premises or cloud-hosted

Pricing: Pricing model is an annual subscription based on the number of network devices. For detailed pricing information, contact [email protected]

Other key players in this market:

  • Veriflow
  • Apstra
  • Intentionet
  • NetBrain
  • Cisco

Contact information for potential customers:

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...