Fortinet today released a SoC4 SD-WAN ASIC, which will power the latest iteration of its FortiGate appliance, 100F. The company also updated its operating system and security fabric to power what it calls security-driven networking, including new features for SD-WAN and other edge and multi-cloud environments.
FortiGate is the firm’s next-generation firewall appliance, which is what it offers its SD-WAN features through. Fortinet began selling SD-WAN directly to its customers (through this appliance) last July.
Nirav Shah, the senior director of network security products and solutions at Fortinet, said the company has been focused for three years on building SD-WAN functionality as a software, but this is the first announcement being made in terms of redesigning the architecture and building an ASIC.
Fortinet builds a new ASIC every three years and at the same time releases a new appliance to support the ASIC.
According to Shah, today’s release is the latest in this release cycle — and it’s also a big one. He claims that when compared to other SD-WAN vendors that offer products in the same price range, Fortigate 100F powered by the SD-WAN ASIC delivered 10 times the performance for IPsec, SD-WAN, and security.
There are multiple different challenges that Shah says the company is solving with both the release of its SD-WAN ASIC and its security fabric. This includes enabling both security and SD-WAN without sacrificing performance, reducing WAN opex without compromising application performance, and consolidating and simplifying WAN edge operations with software-defined branch.
Shah noted that as more enterprises turn to software-as-a-service (SaaS) and multi-cloud applications, the WAN edge needs to be application aware in order to be secured and to deliver high performance.
“Customers understand that they want to enable both security and SD-WAN, but the concern is when they enable all this functionality the performance might become the bottleneck,” he said. “We want to address that with the ASIC.”
The combined FortiGate appliance and ASIC is helping to deliver this by offering application identification and steering for more than 5,000 appliances. What this does is allow the end-user to avoid delays accessing its applications by both accelerating overlay performance and providing low latency.
As a whole, Shah says that Fortinet is differentiating itself in the SD-WAN market — not only by having both security and SD-WAN functionalities built into the appliance — but by having a single controller to manage them both.
And, while currently customers must use multiple point products and management consoles to achieve a WAN edge, the ASIC will accelerate security throughout the WAN edge, access points, and switches to enable SD-branch. This is achieved through the use of a WiFi controller to manage those APIs in the branch and provide consistent security with low-performance impact.
Security Fabric Upgrades
Today Fortinet also released version 6.2 of its flagship operating system, FortiOS. The company claims that the update includes over 300 innovations spanning its product portfolio. This includes broadened visibility, integrated protection and detection of advanced threats, and the automation of operations, orchestration, and response.
As the upgraded operating system has been applied to the various offerings in Fortinet’s product suite, this includes expanded SD-WAN functions and services. This includes WAN link remediation, on-demand WAN bandwidth measurement, an overlay controller to better manage complex routing and connectivity issues in users’ network topologies, aggregate overlay bandwidth sharing between multiple connections, and high-speed application recognition.
This update also added new integrations with Kubernetes and its FortiGate firewall for container security capabilities and a number of other integrations to provide greater overall visibility and performance.