Forward Networks Debuts New Technology as it Raises $16M in Series B Funding

Networking startup promises to make it easier and more accessible for organization to test network configuration and operations.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Aug 24, 2017
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Networking startup Forward Networks announced on Aug.23 that it has raised $16 million in a new Series B round of funding. The new round of funding was led by DFJ and included the participation of Andreessen Horowitz and A.Capital Ventures with total funding for Forward Networks now standing at $27 million.

Forward Network emerged from stealth in November 2016 after three years of development. The company's core platform at launch provided organizations with the ability to search, understand and verify network policies and data patch. The Forward Predict feature provides networking professionals with the ability to understand the potential impact of changes on a network in an effort to help prevent outages.

"Our high-level goal is to improve the efficiency of network operations and make it far more reliable and accurate," David Erickson, co-founder and CEO of Forward Networks told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. "We do this with really advanced algorithms and we effectively model all the behavior of how the network can work."

Erickson said that since emerging from stealth, his company has been busy adding customers. The new funding round will be used to help grow the company's engineering as well as sales team.

To date, Erickson said Forward Networks has found all kinds of interesting things in customer networks. Among the issues that have been discovered are low-level issues that might not be impacting an enterprise's traffic currently, but they hold the potential for future disaster.

"They are basically land mines that are just one change away from causing a massive outage," Erickson said.

One such network land mind is the issue of mismatched MTUs (Maximum Transmission Unit) configurations on routers. If a data packet is sent that exceeds the MTU or if the MTU is configured differently elsewhere in the network, Erickson said that the issue could easily cripple a big router.

"We're had horror stories from our customers that told us they lost a significant chunk of their operation because an MTU type issue occurred," Erickson said.

Forward Networks has a list of pre-defined checks that look for common misconfiguration issue like the MTU situation. Erickson added that the pre-defined checklist was all compiled from issues that were encountered via customer engagements.

Many organizations that Erickson visits use various in-house tools to try and understand network topology. He noted that those tools are typically limited and don't actually provide full visibility into what is actually running and how it is configured.

"Networking is hard," Erickson said. "When you've got thousands of devices and then humans trying to keep them working problem will occur because humans aren't perfect. "A lot of networks are more fragile than people realize and our mission is to try and help solve this problem," he said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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