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Seeing through Hybrid Multi-Cloud with Forward Networks

In the world of hybrid multi-cloud, security is a tough proposition. 

Unlike a physical network that is fairly observable and therefore, easy to secure, a cloud network is opaque, and that makes security tricky, and difficult to execute. Without full knowledge of what’s out there, security is elusive.

Forward Networks, an authority in network observability, helps companies get a full view of what’s out there, which is the first step to making things better.

Cloud Obscurity

In contrast to physical environments, cloud environments are somewhat abstract by nature – it’s all software. A Virtual Private Network is just that – virtual. 

Reasoning about these abstract systems is way more challenging than the physical devices that one could go and touch.

Even when operators have a full list of assets – which is practically never- tracking down the configurations is difficult at the best of times. Factor in the dynamic nature of cloud systems, and you have assets that are constantly changing and hard to track down, let alone knowing their configurations and current states.

It’s like trying to track a moving target that lives on a changeable platform that may or may not really exist. 

A tool like Forward Networks’ is handy for this very reason. It can discover what exists, how it’s configured, what’s its current state, and tell us all about the environments in ways that is understandable to operators.

Trust, But Verify

Securing cloud environments takes understanding the full picture of how things are connected and whether they should be. Unfortunately for humans, that is too much to keep track of. Even in just one cloud, teams have to deal with multiple instance types, VPCs, transit gateways, load-balancers, network ACLs, security groups, and the ever-present DNS, among other things. Navigating all this complexity is mind-numbing. 

Forward Networks converts the variations to a normalized model of the environment. This simplifies the topology and makes it easily understandable. A consistent view across the network makes it possible to ask questions of the network. 

This helps Forward Networks highlight and understand the question that is at the heart of security – is something different than what it should be?

To get a trustworthy end-to-end security audit of an environment, it requires full visibility into what’s actually happening. Forward Networks’ detailed model provides that consistently. It collects data from the cloud APIs, then processes and turns it into information that humans understand at a glance.

And it works across clouds, even if there is more than one, which companies increasingly do. 

This kind of total visibility is a game-changer because hybrid and multi-cloud environments are here to stay. As much as certain vendors and pundits might predict otherwise, most customers have not gone all-in on one cloud, and are likely not going to. Even if they did –  as they acquire other single-cloud companies, combined they become multi-cloud. 

As an added bonus, Forward Networks is bringing its existing awareness of on-site devices to the cloud. 

Many vendors provide a virtual version of their physical products that is basically the same software freed of its hardware shell. It may run in the cloud, but it still looks and feels like the same device customers already know and love. Forward Networks can deal with virtual network appliances in the same way as physical ones.

Keep What Works

Come to think of it, the cloud is really just another datacenter with its set of infrastructure, systems and processes that companies have to manage along with all the existing ones they have. As much as they wish to throw everything old away, production systems are there for a reason, and often that reason is revenue generation.

A tool like Forward Networks’ helps companies move between worlds smoothly. When you already have a set of techniques for securing systems that works, why give them up without good reason? The key to consistent security is to continue to use older techniques where possible, while introducing new methods that work on-site and in the cloud?


In today’s climate, enterprises need to be equipped to handle a diversity of environments without being constantly bamboozled by complexity. An eye to distinguish necessary and valuable variation from the insecure or dangerous ones helps build this ability. With its high-fidelity observability, Forward Networks helps them get the benefits of the new and the old, without making security an impossible task.

To learn more about Forward Networks, watch their presentations from Cloud Field Day or head to their website for more information.

About the author

Justin Warren

Justin is Chief Analyst and managing director of PivotNine, a firm that advises vendors on positioning and marketing, and customers on how to evaluate and use technology to solve business problems. He is a regular contributor at, CRN Australia, and iTNews.

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