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Interviewing Brandon Heller of Forward Networks about Digital Twin

I had the chance to interview CTO and Co-founder Brandon Heller of Forward Networks during Cisco Live and he had some great stories to tell me about the future of the company. They’ve been working hard to solve customer issues and unlock the critical information that has been stored away for so long with no way to understand what is important.

The first story he shared was about how Michael Wynston of Fiserv used the power of digital twins to understand his network better and pull information out of it. If you don’t know what a digital twin is, Brandon does a great job of explaining it in simple detail. It’s a digital representation of a physical thing, like Google Maps standing in for the real world. With Forward Networks, that digital twin is of your physical network. Which means you can pull data from many sources and concentrate it in such a way as to understand what’s going on in the network.

Digital twins let you understand the behavior of the network and see what would happen when, say, packets arrive at a certain location or some event triggers a routing protocol change. You can find out why applications behave in certain ways and be sure that the results that you see in the digital twin will apply in the real world too.

Brandon also discussed why having a neutral model of your network is so critical. Having a multivendor approach means you aren’t creating islands of darkness in areas where your solution can’t understand the data that the devices are sharing. This is especially true in organizations that have grown through acquisition and have very heterogeneous networks. Solutions like Forward Networks allow you to model the entire network and understand every part to help with your troubleshooting process.

It references something that was mentioned in the Cisco Live keynote. Far too many times we see marathon support calls with multiple people sitting on a conference bridge banging their heads against a wall because no one knows what the answer is and no one knows how to ask the right questions to find the data that will ensure proper resolution. Sometimes knowing what to ask is just as important as what the answer might be.

Forward Networks Network Query Engine (NQE) gives you the power to ask the right questions in plain language. One example Brandon gave was “show me all interfaces that are configured as up but are showing as down”. That little query could take hours to solve in a system without wider data access. Forward Networks is able to poll devices and understand the configuration to return the results easily. That means faster answers for stakeholders and less time wasted for your engineering talent.

For more information, make sure to visit Forward Networks’ website and see all the interviews and content from Cisco Live and more.

About the author

Tom Hollingsworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a networking professional, blogger, and speaker on advanced technology topics. He is also an organizer for networking and wireless for Tech Field Day.  His blog can be found at

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