By Kyt Dotson, SiliconANGLE

Network operations startup Forward Networks Inc. announced today it has raised $50 million in new funding to grow its unique offering that improves enterprise networks by creating “digital twins” of them.

Digital twins are a type of simulation, usually describing real-world objects simulated in virtual environments so that they can be observed, manipulated or operated on. The aim is to understand what’s happening to the actual objects without affecting them directly.

What Forward has done is make mathematically accurate digital twin models for sprawling enterprise networks that can drive actionable insights. The goal is to improve network operations, increase security, allow operations teams to test changes before they apply them in the real world and execute post-mortems of events without having to cause downtime...

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By Ingrid LundenTechCrunch

Digital twins — virtual representations of actual systems — have become an important component in how engineers and analysts build, visualize and operate AI projects, network security, and other complicated architectures that might have a number of components working (or malfunctioning as the case may be) in tandem. Today, a startup called Forward Networks — which has built digital twin modeling software geared specifically at helping to operate and maintain enterprise networks — is announcing some funding on the heels of strong growth.

The company has raised $50 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue investing in R&D and expanding its base of customers. MSD Partners is leading this round, with new backers Section 32 and Omega Venture Partners also participating alongside previous backers Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs), Threshold Ventures, A. Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz...

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PRNewswire

Funding led by MSD Partners and includes new investors Section 32 and Omega Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Threshold Ventures, A. Capital and Andreessen Horowitz

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Forward Networks announced today that it has secured $50M in Series D funding from top-tier venture capital firms. The company provides unique digital twin network modeling software that delivers security, reliability, and agility to large enterprise networks. The funding round, led by MSD Partners, L.P., includes new investors Section 32 and Omega Venture Partners as well as existing investors Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs), Threshold Ventures, A. Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. Additionally, Victor Hwang, managing director and co-head of MSD Growth, joins the Forward Networks board of directors.

Since its last round of funding in 2019, Forward Networks has quadrupled its customer base, opened new headquarters in Santa Clara, California and extended its development team with an office in Bangalore, India. The company achieved 139% ARR growth from FY2021 to FY2022 while experiencing exceptional customer loyalty demonstrated by a 96% retention rate. 

By creating a mathematically accurate digital twin of the network, Forward Enterprise delivers actionable insights that enable network operators to make data-driven decisions, prevent errors and improve overall network security, compliance, and health. The platform supports all major networking vendors, hybrid-cloud, and multi-cloud environments, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.

David Erickson, CEO and co-founder of Forward Networks, said, "We're creating a new technology category with a product that our customers deem indispensable as soon as it's implemented. We're excited to put this capital to work to grow sales and deliver a product that unlocks the power of the data inside everyone's digital infrastructure."

"We are exceedingly excited and optimistic about Forward Networks," said Victor Hwang, managing director and co-head of MSD Growth. "As enterprise network architectures grow and become more complex, the necessity for network security and visibility have dramatically increased. Forward's robust and scalable platform addresses this large and growing market need unlike anything else we've seen. As a flexible, long-term partner, MSD Growth seeks to back exceptional growth businesses with proven unit economics and strong commercial acceptance of their products. We're thrilled to lead the company's round of funding and support its next stage of growth."

"Forward Networks is one of the few companies addressing the multi-vendor, multi-cloud reality of enterprise networks," said Andy Harrison, CEO and managing partner, Section 32. "By providing network visualization and verification that supports the entire network, its digital twin puts people back in control of the network. The company has demonstrated substantial growth, underscoring the value of its unique approach to modern enterprises."

"Forward Networks has reached an inflection point in its growth as it innovates across network automation, advanced analytics, and cybersecurity," adds Gaurav Tewari, managing partner at Omega Venture Partners. "Modern enterprises rely on the company's category-defining solutions for transformative insights, intelligence, and proactive risk mitigation. Together with Forward Networks, we are excited to leverage Omega's substantial strategic resources to capture the tremendous growth potential ahead."

Threshold Ventures has been a financial supporter of Forward Networks since its Series B funding in 2017.

"We saw the potential value of the Forward Networks platform right away," said Andreas Stavropoulos, partner at Threshold Ventures. "We've been impressed by the company's growth and the expanded platform capabilities that make insightful and actionable network data available to NetOps, SecOps, and CloudOps teams."

To learn more about Forward Enterprise, visit www.forwardnetworks.com.

About Forward Networks

Forward Networks is revolutionizing the way large networks are managed. Forward's advanced software delivers a digital twin of the network, enabling network operators to ensure that the network is secure, reliable, and agile. The platform supports devices from all major networking vendors and cloud operators, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Forward Networks was founded in 2013 by four Stanford Ph.D. graduates and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. Investors include MSD Partners, Goldman Sachs, Andreessen Horowitz, Threshold Ventures, Section 32, Omega Venture Partners, and A. Capital. For more information, visit www.forwardnetworks.com.

About MSD Partners

MSD Partners focuses on maximizing long-term capital appreciation across three core areas of investing expertise – Credit, Real Estate, and Growth Equity. It is an affiliate of BDT & MSD Partners, a merchant bank with an advisory and investment platform built to serve the distinct needs of business owners and strategic, long-term investors. Since 2010, BDT MSD Partners' affiliated funds have deployed more than $50 billion across their investment strategies. For more information, visit www.bdtmsd.com.

About Section 32

Section 32 is a venture capital firm investing at the frontiers of technology. Founded by Bill Maris, the team has vast experience building iconic companies. Our goal is to accelerate the discovery, development, and distribution of revolutionary technologies that improve the human condition. We invest across the entirety of technology. This includes cybersecurity, enterprise software, fintech, web3, quantum computing, space, machine learning, artificial intelligence, computational biology, and biotechnology.

About Omega Venture Partners

Omega Venture Partners is a premier technology investment firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. Omega invests in rapidly growing software businesses that leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, data, and automation to deliver transformative solutions. The firm employs a thematic investment strategy to identify large market opportunities and invest in the next generation of category-defining companies. Visit: https://www.omegavp.com.

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Nobody likes getting audited or inspected. Well, almost nobody; there’s always one person who consistently blows the curve. They gleefully anticipate inspections because they know they’re going to get a glowing review. We all have names for that person, most of which shouldn’t be included in a business blog.

But what if, (bear with me) we could be that person? A leader who faces the inspection knowing that while they may find something that you could improve, you're dialed in, and everything is as it should be. That sounds like a lot more fun than the anxiety and stress that is more commonly associated with audits.

Cyber Command Readiness Inspections (CCRI) are DISA mandated and designed to ensure the security of all networks connected to the DOD information network. Inspectors will examine every part of your network looking for security posture awareness, standards compliance, vulnerabilities, and an agency’s ability to protect against cyber threats.

The inspection process is rigorous and methodical. The network itself is inspected as is your documentation. The good news is that the standards are published. It’s like getting the test questions before the exam. Inspectors will evaluate compliance using published guidelines, including:

So now that you know the questions - it’s a “simple” matter of finding the answers. This requires evaluating the network for compliance against thousands of specifications. In this context, having the questions before the test doesn’t make matters any easier. Trying to verify compliance, produce accurate documentation, and have the right culture and processes in place takes many agencies months of intensive manual efforts. Even then, they aren’t 100% confident they’ll pass inspection because networks are constantly changing, which could take them out of compliance. And manual documentation is out of date the moment it’s completed.

Instead of investing thousands of work-hours, there is a better way. A network digital twin can help index every aspect of your network, including topology, device configuration, and state across your multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment. This information is validated at regular intervals so it’s always up to date.

Custom checks can detect non-compliance and pinpoint necessary remediation efforts. And results are mathematically accurate.

If you’d like to learn more about how this works, read our white paper, Use a Digital Twin For Impeccable Cyber Command Readiness Inspections.

If you’d like to see Forward Enterprise in action, book a 1:1 consultation on using a digital twin to ensure CCRI readiness.

By Chiara Regale, VP of Product, Forward Networks

If you’ve been in the technology industry for even a short time, you understand that the predominant characteristic of the sector is change. Chiara Regale, VP of product and UX at Forward Networks, discusses how companies can regain control of their networks amidst continuous change and how to choose the right network twin on the journey.

Often, what is marketed as innovation is merely change for the sake of itself. New technologies and solutions that solve challenges and deliver value are the only forms of meaningful innovation. Digital twin technology is a prime example, as it provides the data and controls to put people back in charge of the network. For some, the phrase is a buzzword; for those who implement it, it’s become the most valuable tool in their arsenal...

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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.

Here we go again – another impossible promise!

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.

Wait, is this actually working?

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.

Can a digital twin help with audits?

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.

The POC delivers immediate insight

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.

Supporting future automation efforts

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.

We are asked to purchase something 4,000 times every day; that’s roughly once every 13 seconds during our waking hours. These “requests to purchase'' often come in the form of marketing messages that test the bounds of credibility. In the software industry, most of us have trained ourselves to question vendor promises vociferously. And vendors have earned this skepticism through years of launching “slideware” or incomplete products that turned customers into unwitting beta testers.

Technology decision makers are rightfully skeptical. They want proof that a solution will perform as promised and that it will work in their environment. Furthermore they need to be comfortable that the solution can be deployed without introducing security risks or performance issues. As a company pioneering a new category (network digital twins), we get that.

Our co-founder, Brandon Heller, loves it when people don’t just take our word for it about the Forward Enterprise platform capabilities. He also absolutely loves talking with people who don’t believe we can do things like:

Brandon is going to be sharing our platform and how enterprises are using Forward Enterprise to solve very complex problems and show the platform live. Bring your skepticism and your questions and put him to the test.

Because Brandon says that for him to trust applications - he needs to get his hands on the keyboard. Everyone who registers will receive a free two-week trial of Forward Cloud through AWS Marketplace - that way you can put your hands on the keyboard and experience the platform for yourself.

When: 11:00 a.m. Pacific/2:00 p.m. Eastern, September 28, 2022


Where: BrightTALK


Register Now


One lucky attendee will win a new Series 8 Apple Watch (must be present during the live session to win).

If you’re too excited to wait for the session, we got you - get a personalized demo from one of our field technicians where you can ask questions and focus on the use cases that are most important to your company (Security Verification, Cloud Modeling, Network Assurance).

By Nikhil Handigol, RTInsights

Most IT professionals lack visibility into their hybrid and multi-cloud environments. And they have problems identifying all the cloud services in use in their organizations.

The cloud promised three important things – simplicity, security, and flexibility. As the variety and the sheer number of cloud platforms increases with unprecedented velocity, the corresponding challenges of effectively managing, securing, and paying for these cloud services inevitably rise, too. An Omdia report suggested that by 2023 most companies will spend 40% of their IT budget managing their infrastructure across multiple cloud service providers.

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