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February 4, 2020

Answers at Your Fingertips with Forward Networks

by Natalie Cheung

The average network is a collection of configuration settings that exist in their own little island. They interact with each other and create situations where that interaction causes systemic issues in other places. Half of the job of a network engineer is figuring out those interactions and anticipating how they will impact other parts of the steady-state machine that we build to operate our applications. It’s hard enough to learn where all the switches are. Asking for anything more complicated is taxing for any engineer.

With the rise of networks that need to be more reliable for things like cloud applications and important use cases for financial or medical, it’s not enough to guess about the network state any longer. We can’t just hope that a configuration was done and that it was made in such a way as to lessen the impact on other systems. We can’t wish that things were configured correctly. We have to go one step further and actually verify that everything is done correctly. Adding that verification step into our routine is a source of contention, though. It’s a lot of extra work. It requires extra steps to get the information and make sure it’s accurate. It’s not what the standard network was built to provide. There needs to be a better tool out there to give us the info we need.

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