A customer posed this question to me recently; after pausing and smiling (a little too) broadly, he continued, “Their lips are moving.”
I thought this would be funnier if it weren’t partly true.
The software industry has over-promised and under-delivered for years, making technical executives rightfully skeptical when they hear a new promise. Unfortunately, it’s common for software to lack promised features or to create new headaches when deployed across the enterprise.
The executive I was speaking with runs the network of a Fortune 250 global financial services company; he’s experienced his share of pie-in-the-sky sales pitches. Understandably, he was skeptical when he met a software executive promising a network digital twin that provides analysis and insight into the behavior of his network, supports all major hardware vendors, and can do this without posing any security risk.
In 2017 at a conference in New York, he met our co-founder and CEO, David Erickson. He remembers thinking David’s a great guy, but there’s no way his platform can do everything he’s saying, and especially not at the scale needed to support tens of thousands of devices.
As fate would have it, he bumped into David again in Las Vegas at another tech event where after a bit of discussion – he agreed to test the platform in his lab environment.
Once the platform was up and running, he was genuinely astounded; in his own words, “Wow, this really, really amazing, it actually does everything you say it will.”
Many other teams were interested in the platform’s capabilities, but like many global enterprises, the organization and responsibilities are highly segmented. Working across functions to adopt new technology is a slow process. So while there was interest and promise, the platform stayed in the lab.
During a discussion to prepare for an upcoming audit, the team expressed concerns about their current tools’ ability to provide the desired details and specificity around traffic and device behavior. Trust is everything for a financial services company; opacity or inaccuracy can create doubt in an instant.
The Forward Networks platform in their lab claimed it could instantly provide the information they needed, taking much of the pain out of audits while ensuring they continued to develop trust with customers.
They decided to put the platform to a bigger test within a contained area of the network. To kick off the POC, they used a seed list of known devices for collection. The collection indicated about half of those devices were not in the network. As this was a small area of the network that the Ops team felt they knew very intimately, they were very confident the devices did indeed exist and that there was an error in the collection. However, when they attempted to verify their existence, they were nowhere to be found.
This experience gave the team a clear indication of how much they didn’t know about the network. For example, if they were missing 50% of the expected devices in a well-known area of their environment, what could they discover across the entire network? Especially considering the company had recently undergone a significant merger.
The implications were significant. For example, how many of those devices were still included in expensive maintenance contracts? What else are they paying for that’s no longer in use?
In addition to exposing them to the scope of what they don’t know about the network, the snapshots collected in the platform provide an always-on audit. The team can now tell what a device was doing on a specific day and what devices it could have reached. Because they can gather this data as simply as conducting a Google search, audit responses are no longer nearly as painful.
Because the platform is API accessible, they are constantly coming up with new ways to extract data from the platform and improve efficiency. They are looking at automating developer queries, for example.
If you want to see what Forward Networks can do, view our webinar on-demand, where we asked participants to challenge our co-founder and CTO Brandon Heller to prove our platform can live up to its promise, or request a personalized demo.