Fortinet touted a new proprietary virtual security processing technology a week before the MWC Barcelona trade show in a race to boost security for carriers moving from 4G LTE to 5G.
The virtual technology is designed to aid faster connection speeds and secure mobile control at the core and edge cloud to support IoT infrastructure. The company described its system of virtual security processing unit (SPU) technology that powers virtual network functions (VNFs) for delivering increased application security with only a small footprint that requires less storage and a boot time lasting “within seconds.”
The goal behind the virtual SPU is to apply the software to off-the-shelf hardware for virtual firewalls, SD-WANs, routers, and VPNs, said John Maddison, executive vice president of products at Fortinet. Pricing for the virtual SPU is subscription-based, determined by the number of cores a service provider operates.
Maddison explained that carriers could implement a virtual SPU alongside a hardware-defined SPU in a hybrid architecture. “It may be a hybrid for a long time with hardware and software,” he said. “When facing the internet, do you want a virtual box there? It depends where you put it.”
Fortinet counts Cisco and Palo Alto Networks among its competitors for SPU capabilities.
Fortinet’s virtual SPU technology sits in a larger system, akin to a graphics processor unit (GPU), and works with a CPU, Maddison explained. Fortinet’s control plane is Intel-based and its data plane is made up of Intel CPUs plus the Fortinet Virtual SPU to provide security capabilities such as content inspection and open SSL inspection.
Fortinet also provides integration capabilities with NFV providers such as Lenovo and NFV orchestration systems from Amdocs, Ericsson, Cienna, UBiqube, and NoviFlow. It also integrates with SDN controllers from VMware, NSX, Nokia Nuage, Cisco ACI, and NoviFlow.
Maddison explained that the platform also enhances the security posture of 5G deployments.
“As 5G opens up, apps become super important,” Maddison said. “It’s going to make mobile networks more application rich and the security capabilities need to evolve with that.”