Business & Technology

Executive Insights: Digital Transformation and Service Providers: A Q&A with Fortinet’s Matt Pley

By Matt Pley and John Welton | October 11, 2017

Digital transformation is driving sweeping changes in organizations, not only to how businesses compete for customers, but to fundamental ways that they operate. Data is the new currency in this economy, and networks, workflows, and even business processes are being affected.

This week, Fortinet hosted Fast and Secure in Dallas, Texas. Almost 200 Service Providers, influencers, and decision makers attended this event to discuss the impact that the transition to a digital economy and new digital business models are having on their business. We sat down with Matt Pley, Fortinet’s Vice President of Cloud, Carriers, Service Providers, & Strategic Accounts to get his key takeaways from the event.

Can you give us a brief overview of Fast and Secure and why it is so timely? Who attends and why? 

Fast and Secure is a series of invitation-only events that Fortinet hosts around the world with our Service Provider customers to talk about the changes and pressures they are experiencing, and the tools and strategies Fortinet is developing to help them secure their rapidly changing industries. Consumer and employee expectations are driving dramatic business and operational changes in our digital economy. These changes, which are dramatically impacting products, services, workflows, and operations, aren’t optional. They are necessary to ensure that companies remain competitive and able to respond to shifting market requirements being driven by evolving consumer demands.

This evolution is affecting every business, including those served by our partners. We created this event to get closer to our Service Provider community and expand our already trusted partnerships. This setting allows us to develop a deeper understanding of their various market dynamics and pressures, create an opportunity for roundtable discussions with market and industry leaders, and learn how to best evolve and leverage Fortinet’s key products and solutions to improve their service offerings.

What are some key ideas you took away from this year’s event?

Digital transformation is dynamic, which means it is impacting so many parts of the Service Provider market, so I left with a number of important takeaways. But at a high level, a few critical things come to mind.

Service Providers play a pivotal role in this new digital transformation paradigm. More data than ever is going to be pushed across their networks. Content usage will continue to grow and demand more bandwidth, storage, analysis, and compute resources. More users and devices than ever will insist on instant access to data wherever it is located, from just about any device imaginable, using a constantly evolving set of tools and applications.

Security will be a key enabler of both new service capabilities and revenue streams. Thoughtful engineering and careful planning – including the selection, deployment, and integration of security tools designed to work together across highly elastic and adaptive environments – are necessary if we are to meet the requirements of the new digital economy.

At the same time, businesses worldwide are struggling to secure their networks against determined attackers who are commonly two steps ahead of the defenders. And if that wasn’t enough, the security skills shortage continues to widen as well.

As a result, many CISOs are looking to migrate some or all of the risk out of their IT departments and into the hands of professionals such as managed security service providers (MSSPs). These MSSPs are expected to anticipate and secure networks against innovative and determined threat actors. This responsibility comes with considerable challenges, including defending scores of customers with evolving requirements while balancing security effectiveness against business profitability.

Many business analysts are predicting a double-digit billion-dollar growth trajectory for the Managed Security Services market in the next 3 years. We spent time exploring this business opportunity together, and the tools they need, both now and in the years to come, in order to excel.

With Service Providers facing so much change, can you explain how security is an opportunity for their business? What are your partners looking for?

Digital transformation is forcing Service Providers to rethink network design and service delivery, while maintaining security in an emerging hybrid network model. New developments, like multicloud, continue to introduce new challenges into the mix. Security continues to be a focus of investment for all types of Service Providers. But it can’t be more of the same static security solutions they have deployed in the past. Security today needs to be elastic, innate, and adaptive.

Driven by changing customer expectations and evolving business models, the need for new and advanced security solutions remains constant, but at the same time, implementation requirements vary. Service Providers have typically built out security capabilities largely on security monitoring and device management. As markets and networks evolve, however, new and effective strategies are required for continued success. 

Today’s MSSPs need tools that are highly scalable, support multitenant environments, and provide robust, single-pane-of-glass management and orchestration. They also need reliable, high-performance, and cost-effective security that allows their networks to dynamically adapt to changing risk environments and expanding attack surfaces. To make this happen, MSSPs must select a security vendor committed to not only ensuring their own success, but also the security of the customers they are tasked to protect.

Fortinet talks about supporting the business decisions of those looking for a service-based option. Can you elaborate on how Fortinet is shifting its business and solutions to support these changing customer requirements?

Frost & Sullivan recently recognized that “Fortinet has achieved a dominant position with MSSPs with its FortiGate line of high performance firewalls.” In their recent ranking of over 100 network security platforms, Fortinet scored “the highest possible ranking among North American MSSPs.” That’s because Fortinet covers all of the critical aspects of an MSSP’s business model—offering the best in multitenancy, the most hardware flexibility, the highest performance through hardware acceleration, highly optimized software, and the lowest total cost of ownership of any security vendor.

We understand that the MSSP is a strategically differentiated channel partner, and for years we have worked to develop technology specifically suited to the MSSP business model. A foundational tenet of our strategy is to enhance our MSSP Partners’ profitability. As a result, our channel enablement strategy creates a symbiotic relationship with MSSPs, as their customers rely on Fortinet’s Security Fabric for network uptime and application availability, while Fortinet relies on the MSSP to win new customers with a blend of professional services and high-touch support that reduces our own cost of support.

Fortinet’s vision of security enables customers to deploy a system of specialized tools and solutions, putting the right tool in the right place to provide cost-effective performance and protection, but also designed to operate as an integrated whole. This two-pronged approach is key to our long-term position as a strategic business partner for network and managed security services providers.

Read more about Fortinet's Solution for Managed Security Service Providers.

You can also read Ed Amoroso's post on LinkedIn "Factoring Threat Into SD-WAN" (Founder and CEO of TAG Cyber)