Fortinet Targets Cloud-based Managed Security Service Providers

Unified threat management appliances are the Swiss army knives of IT security, housing a range of features in a single package: firewall, anti-virus, and intrusion detection/prevention systems, for example. UTM boxes were typically customer-premise equipment. Fortinet, among the major UTM providers, now aims to extend integrated security to the cloud.

The company this week introduced its FortiCarrier product line, which targets carriers and managed security services providers (MSSPs). Those may not be traditional UTM markets -- SMBs and enterprises being the usual suspects -- but carriers and MSSPs represents 20 percent of Fortinet’s shipments. SMBs account for 30 percent, with enterprise and government accounts contributing the balance. Fortinet lists BAI Security, Integralis, and Perimeter eSecurity among its MSSP partners.

Prior to the FortiCarrier debut, FortiGate appliances marked the company’s high-end UTM option for MSSPs. The chassis-based FortiGate-5000 Series, in particular, is positioned as an MSSP product. The new FortiCarrier 3810A and 5001A-DW follow that pattern, offering expandable appliances.

Jens Andreassen, VP, strategy and new technology, at Fortinet, said MSSP customers use FortiGate and FortiCarrier products to “protect their own infrastructure as well as a service delivery platform for hosted security services.” At the high end, Fortinet’s solutions can scale to “thousands of Virtual Domains per chassis for a cloud-based MSSP offering,” he added.

Fortinet’s Virtual Domain technology lets MSSPs create an independent security domain for each end customer.

Cloud-based delivery comes at a price, however. IDC defines UTM’s top tier as units priced at $50,000 and above. Products in this category are most likely an option for larger MSSPs that have already invested in security operations centers.

MSSPs, however, can also tap Fortinet’s lower-cost line of managed systems. Those solutions can provide the basis for a CPE-based MSSP model, Andreassen said.

Fortinet, meanwhile, has begun shipping its FortiCarrier line. According to Andreassen, capabilities relevant to MSSPs include:

  • A Dynamic User Profile feature that lets MSSPs apply specific policies on a per-user basis.
  • Expanded Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) security capabilities that protect an MSSP’s VoIP infrastructure and services.
  • A consolidation of voice and data security that offers lower capex and opex than   stand-alone solutions.
But beyond the product particulars, there’s a broader message for MSPs: vendors are wagering that more and more security will be delivered in the cloud. In addition to Fortinet’s offering, recent developments include Cisco Systems’ Cisco Security Cloud Services offering and IBM’s Proventia Virtualized Network Security Platform. The former is a SaaS play, while IBM described the latter as an appliance geared toward managed cloud service providers.

The dilemma for MSPs should be familiar by now: Security in the cloud is shaping up as yet another buy-versus-partner decision.

Contributing blogger John Moore covers Master MSPs and Web hosts, and has written about the IT channel for two decades. MSPmentor is updated multiple times daily. Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe to our Enewsletter, RSS, Webcast and Twitter feeds.
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