TLDR - check out the Enterprise Strategy Group eBook, End-to-End Networking Visibility and Management.

If you have a single vendor, single cloud homogenous network where everything is documented, you know where every device is, and you know all the possible paths in your network, then you are a networking deity.  

Realistically, nobody has a “simple” and fully documented network. Mainly because enterprises grew over time with the organization. New equipment was added as needed or as part of an acquisition. The typical enterprise environment now includes dozens of hardware vendors with devices running a multitude of operating systems, billions of lines of constantly changing configuration code and multiple public clouds. For most of the practitioners we’ve worked with, this means a “simple” task like physically locating a device will take days to weeks. Even the most basic troubleshooting activity can take hours to complete.

 It’s impossible to adequately manage or secure what you cannot see. End-to-end visibility is table stakes for mitigating risk when making changes, having visibility over remote workers, and securing the network.

There is general consensus among engineers that increasing network complexity is making visibility the biggest challenge and highest priority for protecting network health. According to a recent Enterprise Strategy Group eBook, End-to-End Networking Visibility and Management, there is a multitude of drivers for increasing network complexity:

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group eBook, End-to-End Network Visibility and Management, October 2022.

Most enterprise IT shops are approaching network visibility manually, creating Visio diagrams or excel spreadsheets to document topology and inventory.  At best, these documents are out of date the moment they are published; in actuality, they are often months, even years old. In an era of highly distributed networking and remote work, this approach is unacceptable.

Network visibility is one of the key features of Forward Networks’ network digital twin technology. A large financial services firm that deployed Forward Enterprise discovered that only 25% of its network lab inventory was accurate. Many of the devices they thought were on the network had been decommissioned, and the majority of devices in-service were not documented. This was the most highly monitored portion of their network. As their network leader said, “The depth of what we do not know about our network is far greater than what we do know.” 

To learn more, we invite you to read the Enterprise Strategy Group eBook on End-to-End Networking Visibility and Management. To see how your company can gain detailed end-to-end visibility in a single platform, please meet with one of our engineers.

Today's enterprise IT teams are well acquainted with the pressures of ensuring network security, while also managing the time it takes to do so. The recent experience of one multinational technology company perfectly illustrates how Networks Query Engine (NQE) can be used to quickly and effectively bolster network security.

As with most companies, this company's IT team was asked on a regular basis to locate IP addresses in the network. While some of these queries are more general in nature, others stem directly from concerns over network security.

For instance, IT might learn that a particular host isn't supposed to be on the network. Or someone might raise a red flag after seeing a tablet logged into another machine. Regardless of the cause, however, it's imperative that IT quickly locate and isolate potentially dangerous IP addresses.

Traditionally, the process of doing so has taken anywhere from a few minutes up to as long as 20 minutes. And if there's anything that enterprise IT teams agree upon, it's the need to reduce time-intensive projects.

According to one recent study, 72 percent of technology professionals say the shift to support remote work – whether fully remote or hybrid – has created additional work for IT departments, as they struggle to support employees in multiple locations. Furthermore, a quarter of the IT workforce is either looking for a new role, changing jobs or switching careers in 2022.

Not surprisingly, 97 percent of IT professionals cite feeling burned out as the primary driver for leaving the field and/or finding a new company. That burnout is driven by increasing demands from employers and other stakeholders – and many of those demands stem from unplanned interruptions like the need to locate an IP address.

In this particular case, the enterprise IT team found that by utilizing NQE to locate an IP address, they were also able to find the associated advertised subnet. Likewise, they quickly found the upstream layer 3 distribution switch and its associated media access control (MAC) address, enabling them to pull the associated virtual LAN and access the specific switch that's being used by a specific device.

Moreover, using NQE to locate the IP address reduced the amount of time needed to do so to just a matter of seconds vs hours or days of manual work. This frees the IT team to work on more strategic projects and eliminates a mind-numbing task that contributes to burnout.

Learn more about how you can use NQE to solve common IT tasks by scheduling a demo today. Be sure to read our other blogs in this series about how Forward Networks is impacting enterprise networks around the world, including The Show Must Go On: NQE Helps Entertainment Venue Avoid 'Spectacular Customer Service Fail.'

When Heraclitus wrote in the 6th Century that the only constant is change, he had no way of knowing just how apt his words would prove for contemporary enterprises.

Consider, for instance, the effect that the Great Resignation has had on enterprises. In 2021 alone, almost 4 million workers quit their jobs per month – the highest yearly average record of all time for employee turnover. Meanwhile, the number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the United States alone totaled more than $2.6 trillion – again, the largest year for M&A activity on record.

Without question, these global events have significantly impacted enterprise IT teams. Companies that have undergone mergers, hired new IT staff, or otherwise made adjustments that impact the enterprise network face a common challenge: understanding what's on the network, why it's there, whether it's needed, and what can be changed to drive savings.

Several such companies have used the dynamic inventory capability of Network Query Engine (NQE) to answer those questions.

Traditionally, enterprise IT teams have relied upon spreadsheets to track information about the different hardware and software on the network. However, that manual system has always been problematic because it depends upon people updating those spreadsheets with accurate information.

But as enterprise IT teams have undergone massive upheaval since the beginning of the pandemic, those manual processes have proven completely ineffective – especially for companies that have undergone mergers or had significant turnover in IT staff.

NQE's dynamic inventory overcomes those challenges by enabling IT teams to immediately see everything that's on the network from a single dashboard. NQE's dynamic inventory enables users to see granular details (e.g., configurations, state, interfaces, counters, power supply serial number, module firmware rev, etc.) for the network.

For instance, users can quickly identify devices on the network that need software updates. Likewise, if you're replacing certain pieces of network equipment, dynamic inventory enables you to find that equipment in a matter of seconds. Dynamic inventory also enables IT teams to better secure the network by quickly identifying end-of-life devices and ensuring that code is updated and less vulnerable to attacks. Network planners can also quickly produce a report of network inventory with serial numbers and use it for support contract negotiations.

Forward Networks has worked with several companies that have used dynamic inventory in NQE with great success. In one case, two companies that merged used it to visualize the combined network and make the transition faster and smoother than it would have been otherwise.

We recently published a blog that describes how one company used rapid insights on NQE to achieve $6 million in savings. Let us show you how to use NQE for dynamic inventory with a free demo today.

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