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Several years ago, a global investment bank embarked on an ambitious plan to automate its network configuration deployment process and use internal teams to run all aspects of network operations. The move was made, in part, because of the fluidity of the bank's network, which is constantly undergoing configuration changes. 

As a longtime Forward Networks customer, the bank utilized the Forward Networks platform to achieve this goal. For example, as IT teams integrated automation software throughout the network, the Forward Networks platform was used to validate that the correct configurations were deployed to achieve the desired outcomes on the network. Additionally, the platform proactively identified issues created by both human error and the automation software, providing quick remediation options for both.

When the bank’s developers write applications, firewall changes are necessary so that the application can securely flow across the network from servers, hosts, and so on. Traditionally, doing so has required the creation of a trouble ticket for someone to manually perform this process. 

Using Forward Enterprise, the bank decided to automate that process, enabling developers to indicate the connectivity that's required, including the source, the destinations, the protocol, and the ports that need to be reached, etc. Forward Enterprise clearly delineated which firewalls were in the path, as well as the changes that needed to be made in those firewalls. Post implementation, those changes were verified for accuracy by Forward Enterprise.

Not only did the Forward Networks platform save the bank's IT team time in terms of the number of people hours required to implement such a process, it also increased the rate at which applications could go live. For developers, that translates to a significant reduction in the amount of time between an application being developed and when it's rolled out to users. It also helped them recognize revenue from these applications faster than before without compromising security.

As this banking customer has learned, the Forward Networks platform helps IT teams make more judicious use of expert services versus hunting down specific devices or specific problems. Likewise, it enables IT teams to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.

To learn more about how you can use Forward Networks to verify your networks and automate timely processes, schedule 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 Six-Figure Savings: How A Financial Institution Banked On NQE For Massive Returns; From Days To Minutes: Digital Media Provider Uses Forward Networks To Overhaul Reconciliation; and $6 Million Savings: How Rapid Insights Led To Valuable Network Upgrades.

As one large, global financial institution prepared for employees to return to the office, its IT team identified a significant issue with the company's more than 8,000 access switches. The switches in question were used to provide connectivity to IP Phones – a crucial part of people's work across virtually all areas of the company.

In many cases, the 8,000 phones in question had essentially been unused for almost two years, as the pandemic forced people to work from home using alternate communication devices. As some users returned to the office they found the IP phones were not functioning. The bank's IT team discovered that the recently upgraded access switches had a configuration that rendered the phones inoperable due to a software defect.

Identifying the misconfigured switches was a laborious process that required engineers to manually examine the configurations of all 8,000 switches. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the configuration wasn't consistent across the fleet of switches. This increased the complexity of identifying which devices needed to be rolled back.

At that point, the IT team turned to Forward Networks to determine whether its Network Query Engine (NQE) could simplify the process of identifying misconfigured switches and shorten the time for rolling back the configuration. NQE enables users to easily build verification checks – like those needed by the bank – that work across the entire fleet of devices in a network.

The IT team provided a list of requirements needed to identify misconfigured switches – checking for certain characteristics, ignoring others. Additionally, the IT team wanted a report of the findings so the third party could be tasked with repairing those switches.

By utilizing NQE, the bank's IT team was able to identify all of the switches that needed to be rolled back (6,000 of 8,000) in less than a day. Instead of manually trying to identify devices that were misconfigured, the financial institution's IT team was able to simply create criteria for doing so, and the Forward Networks platform did all of the work — at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time. After the configuration was rolled back, the bank’s IT team was also able to use Forward Networks NQE to validate if the rolled back configuration was accurate.

Without NQE, it would have taken an average of about five minutes per switch to check for the misconfiguration. Manually checking 8,000 devices at five minutes per switch would have taken the bank's IT team at least 667 hours. By assuming a rate of $150 per hour, the bank would have spent more than $100,000 to manually complete the project. By utilizing Forward Networks and NQE to identify the misconfigured switches, the bank was able to lower the cost of the project significantly and save time.

To learn more about how you can use Forward Networks and NQE to automate labor-intensive, costly processes, schedule 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 From Days To Minutes: Digital Media Provider Uses Forward Networks To Overhaul Reconciliation and Confidence In Action: Investment Bank Uses Forward Networks To Verify Automation Software.

Enterprise IT teams around the world are frustratingly familiar with the process of vendor contract reconciliation, the annual process of ensuring that the support contracts for devices in the network are accurate. For enterprise IT teams, this process ensures that hardware in the network is where it's supposed to be, performing accordingly, and covered by the OEM contract.

On the surface, that might not seem like a difficult task. However, large-scale enterprise networks often have hundreds or thousands of pieces of hardware from multiple vendors, and each one must be reconciled on an annual basis. In many cases, information about such hardware is maintained in spreadsheets that have to be updated anytime there are changes.

Not surprisingly, there are many points of failure in this process: Spreadsheets are placed in the wrong location, making them difficult to locate; people forget to update the spreadsheets or just don't take the time to do so; information is not updated correctly; there are multiple copies, owned and updated by different people; data isn't entered accurately and so on.

Ensuring the accuracy of such data directly correlates to bottom-line costs, as hardware vendors are compensated for each device that's part of the contract. Without proper reconciliation, enterprises typically spend tens of thousands of dollars annually to support devices that aren't even on the network.

Likewise, the cost of reconciliation directly correlates to the length of time it takes IT to complete the annual process. In most cases, the reconciliation process is extremely labor-intensive. An engineer must manually login to each device to verify or clarify information in the spreadsheet – this is expensive, time-consuming, and unnecessary. Not only does the process disrupt the normal daily operations, it adds hours and days of work to already resource-strapped IT teams.

Such was the case for one North America digital media and entertainment company with thousands of devices under contract from multiple vendors. The size and diversity of the network turned the reconciliation process into a massive multi-day headache.

When the Forward Networks team learned about the issues this customer was having with reconciliation, they devised a solution using the data already collected within the platform. Forward Enterprise had already built a mathematical model of their network, including thousands of hardware devices. In a matter of minutes, Forward Networks provided visual documentation of the devices, their location, and their serial numbers, enabling the IT professionals to quickly identify the devices in their network that should be part of the vendor support contracts.

Their director of IT shared this feedback; "Before we began using Forward Networks, reconciliation was a best-guess operation. We have so many devices that it would take days to reconcile what the vendor said we had versus what we thought we had. Doing this through Forward Networks gives us much more detailed information and is much more accurate in terms of what we actually have, saving us money and time on the backside."

To learn more about how you can use Forward Networks to overhaul your vendor contract reconciliation process, schedule a demo today. Keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs in this series about how Forward Networks is impacting enterprise networks around the world, including Six-Figure Savings: How A Financial Institution Banked On NQE For Massive Returns; Confidence In Action: Investment Bank Uses Forward Networks To Verify Automation Software; and $6 Million Savings: How Rapid Insights Led To Valuable Network Upgrades.

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