Itential Adds Forward Networks Integration


By: Mary Jander

Cloud and network automation software provider Itential, a Futuriom 40 company, had two news items this week: It introduced a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of its platform. And it announced integration with network assurance software from Forward Networks.

Both moves should bolster Itential’s fortunes as a key provider of network orchestration for multi-cloud environments.

Itential Serves Automation as SaaS

Itential was among first movers in the field of automated cloud configuration and orchestration. This field is fertile ground for companies seeking to help enterprises cope with the complexities of hybrid and multi-cloud networks, which defy the capabilities of human network managers to keep pace.

Itential’s Automation Platform streamlines network configuration and management by generating abstracted models of cloud networks and their operations, which link directly to network elements through controllers, artificial intelligence (AI), and application programming interfaces (APIs). The result is a centralized way to manage the increasingly Byzantine iterations of on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud networks.

By moving its platform to SaaS, Itential is able to reach more enterprises that are seeking to achieve digital transformation quickly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated the global push toward distributed cloud-native networks.

Itential's SaaS outreach should pay off for customers not only in network control and compliance but in the ability to take advantage of cloud technologies to streamline business processes.

“The volume of change and the requirements on networking are extreme and the technologies are more complicated,” said Itential CTO Chris Wade in an interview with Futuriom last year. “The only way to deal with that complexity is to automate it. If you don’t automate it, you are going to use a small number of features of the new technology.”

Itential’s Integration Moves “Forward”

From the outset, Itential focused on integrating its Automation Platform with third-party products in a range of categories, including order management, CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery), cloud, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), and analytics. The recent integration with Forward Networks is in intent-based networking (IBN), which refers to products that help control network conditions based on levels specified by network managers.

IBN platforms track network activity, identify normal levels, and adjust to conditions based on the intended state of the network. Forward Networks’ platform sets up a “digital twin” of the network, incorporating on-premises gear with public and private cloud devices and connections. It then lets network managers run tests for intended network configurations and traffic flows.

Configurations set up with Forward Networks software can be orchestrated by Itential, which is also integrated with IBN platforms from Apstra (now part of Juniper Networks), NetYCE, and Veriflow. (Interestingly, Forward Networks is compatible with hardware from Apstra parent Juniper.)

Forward Networks Enterprise works with public cloud services, including AWS and Microsoft Azure. And it runs as a premises package or as SaaS, which adds to its attraction for would-be Itential SaaS customers.

Itential Eyes the Enterprise Future

Itential’s focus on multi-cloud automation and orchestration has helped it make inroads with telecom service providers such as Lumen Technologies (LUMN), formerly CenturyLink, which started out as an Itential channel partner but also now incorporates Itential’s products in its own network. IBN suppliers too have had success among carriers. But the SaaS offering should shift Itential and its ecosystem farther into the enterprise customer space.

Itential’s news comes less than a month after the company scored $20 million in funding to take it to the next level. So far, Itential’s on plan.