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April 20, 2020

Who Needs a Dashboard?

by Fabrizio Maccioni

The idea of building the Forward Dashboard has been floating around for a while now, but we kept postponing it to give priority to other features, like In-App Network Query Engine Checks, that built on the functionality and the customization of the Forward Platform. We’ve also done lots of work recently to improve usability and scalability. 

But why a dashboard? Who needs it? 

Senior IT leaders, like the Network Manager from an operations and engineering team, need metrics to establish targets and set goals that aim at improving the overall network reliability, correctness, and hygiene, on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, most of the dashboards available in the market provide so much information in a single pane that most of the users find overwhelming and, in the end, not very useful. 

Forward Dashboard has been designed to provide key network insights with visualizations that are easily consumable and exportable. All attributes that are perfectly in line with our mission: make the life of Network and Security teams easier by “making easy what is hard”, that is, managing very large, complex, heterogeneous, multi-vendor networks. 

 So…let me introduce you to the Forward Dashboard! 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Lw4xAs-OnSU%3Fenablejsapi%3D1%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.forwardnetworks.com

In the initial release, Forward Dashboard provides insights on the network complexity, on the health of the network in terms of network verification, and on the improvements made by the team to make the network healthier. 

Network Complexity 

The Network Complexity pane includes insights on Device modelsOS versions,  Device by type and several key metrics like Number of links,  Number of configuration lines,  Number of VLANs and  Number of VRFs with an indication of how they changed in the last 30 days. 

Figure 1   Network Complexity | The graphs are fully interactive and allow users to drill down to get more granular details.
Figure 2  Device models and OSes for a single vendor | Even better, links to Topology and Inventory pages are provided to see detailed information on the same data.

Network Verification 

The Network Verification pane provides insights on  Passive and Failing Active checks,  Devices with and without failures , and Violations by check type

Figure 3   Network Verification  

It also displays historical data on intent and policy checks, that allows operators to see whether the network is improving its correctness over time (and also as a consequence of using Forward!).  

More network insides are going to be added in the future, so stay tuned and, in the meantime, check this demo video out to get a better understanding of Forward Dashboard.  

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