October 12, 2019

What Do Boba Tea and Network Verification Have in Common?

by Lisa Garvey

Last week, Forward Networks presented at Networking Field Day 21. For two hours on a beautiful Thursday afternoon in Palo Alto, we hosted an esteemed group of network industry influencers, bloggers, and all-around experts.

We had the hospitality program on full-tilt. Enormous warm cookies, a “swag buffet,” and a hip tea bar serving custom boba tea. (For the uninitiated, it’s iced milk tea with tapioca pearls, and it’s extremely popular in the Bay Area. Side note: in 1998, after lining up for an hour with my Netscape teammates at the only boba tea place within 10 miles of Mountain View, I mentioned to my husband that we should invest in one because it would eventually go mainstream. He laughed at me, but he’s the same guy who said that no one would regularly spend money on take-out coffee, and that bottled water was a fad. Fortunately, he has other good qualities.)

The NFD delegates seemed delighted with the tea. Who wouldn’t be, after days of being shuttled around Silicon Valley to hear hours-long product pitches and technical deep dives on complex technology? Yes, that’s their job for the week, but I still feel for them.

The team at Forward was really enthusiastic about showing off the latest advancements of our software platform, especially because for many of the NFD delegates, it was their first introduction to Forward Enterprise. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from demonstrating the benefits of a mathematical network model to people who get it. I love seeing that “aha!” moment, and we had plenty of those in the session.

The questions came quickly:

“Can your software correlate the network overlay and underlay and provide visibility into both?” (Yes.)

“Does this feature only diff configs, or does it diff the output of the show commands?”

(It shows network diffs on everything — IP route tables, ACLs, VLANs, etc., between your chosen points in time, in a canonical vendor-agnostic way.)

“In a network of, say, 2000 devices, how quickly can someone set up your software and go from day-zero to full search capabilities?” (A few hours.) 

To watch the whole presentation, or selected parts of it, spend a little time on the Tech Field Day Forward Networks page. If you really want to see how the company has made progress against its founding vision, watch the first videos from NFD 13 in 2016, when the founding team at Forward revealed their first version of the product, and then watch the videos from NFD 21 in 2019. It’s an impressive leap, which has only been made possible by having truly brilliant computer scientists and seasoned product teams respond to requests from very large customers who feel the frequent pain of managing complex, multi-vendor networks.

For a detailed breakdown:

So, what does boba tea have in common with network verification? 

  • Both were fairly novel a few years ago but have since been proven at scale.
  • Both solve key problems (“I’m tired. I’m thirsty. I have no visibility into my network, and I can’t predict network behavior nor eliminate outages.”) 
  • Both were (I think) sincerely appreciated by the Networking Field Day delegates. To quote a tweet from one of the experts: “Far and away, the most exciting presentation was by @FwdNetworks. Imagine a digital “twin” of even the largest network, that behaves exactly as the real network does.”

Ready to learn more and try Forward Enterprise in your network environment? Schedule a demo at your convenience and we’ll be happy to walk you through it. 

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