Business & Technology

New Fortinet 5G/LTE and Dual Modem Gateways Enhance Secure SD-WAN for OT, Retail & More

By Nirav Shah and Pat Vitalone | December 07, 2021

When we speak to enterprises that are shifting operations to the cloud, the top three concerns we hear are network reliability, security, and cost. That’s because the typical multi-cloud architecture is complex for IT teams to manage, the internet is inherently fraught with reliability and security issues, and connectivity options such as Cable/DSL and MPLS are either limited in scale or costly, preventing digital acceleration at a time when cloud access drives growth. As a result, there is an immediate need to enable, ensure and secure the enterprise network so that it can deliver safe, reliable, and seamless cloud access—anywhere.

Fortinet’s portfolio of FortiExtender 5G/LTE cellular gateways, combined with our industry-leading Secure SD-WAN appliances, solve these pressing challenges with a Security-Driven Networking approach that tightly integrates an organization's network infrastructure and security architecture. FortiExtender cellular gateways help enterprises provide cloud access wherever it’s needed, build better resiliency in edge broadband, and secure local internet breakouts with an integrated cybersecurity mesh platform approach for safer cloud connections. FortiExtender gateways and Fortinet Secure SD-WAN also deliver improved availability and resiliency, while providing your network with high-performance cellular path options to deliver an optimal user experience. This combination of cellular connectivity, industry-leading SD-WAN, and integrated security is something competing solutions cannot offer.

Introducing New FortiExtender Gateways

And now, our portfolio of cellular gateways is getting even better with new models that deliver the following features and benefits: 

  • The industry’s first dual-modem gateway for SD-WAN: New FortiExtender 212F marks the first dual-modem in a single SD-WAN gateway, designed to enable better internet reliability via high availability to support organizations with strict uptime requirements. FortiExtender 212F provides four SIM cards for active/active links and load balancing, all in a single gateway device. Combined with our industry-leading Fortinet Secure SD-WAN solution, FortiExtender 212F enables up to four different breakout paths at the internet edge to improve reliability at the branch for critical and digital services, such as retail POS and kiosk systems, hospitals, and medical facilities where care is connected, and industrial facilities where critical operational technology can’t suffer even a few minutes of downtime. The below diagram illustrates the uptime advantage that dual-modem delivers: 
Dual SIM and Modem

FortiExtender 212F – and all FortiExtender models – provide optimal reception because it doesn’t integrate the modem into the SD-WAN appliance, unlike other cellular solutions. SD-WAN appliances are often stored in places like cabinets and basements, which can hinder cellular reception and render the modem useless. And adding third-party antennas and cabling can cause added complexity, cost, and even weaken the cellular signal. Fortinet avoids this by separating the cellular modem from the SD-WAN appliance and connecting them via an ethernet cable. This separation allows the SIM cards to be placed wherever reception is optimal to improve connectivity, as well as mitigate costs and signal loss typically found in antenna cabling required by integrated modems. Such a setup may seem intuitive; what's surprising is how many solutions cannot do this to ensure maximum reception reliability and flexibility.

  • Thin Branch LTE for Lean Transformations: New FortiExtender 101F offers reliable CAT-6 LTE wireless connectivity in a small form factor for thin branch deployments with modest throughput demands on the enterprise network. This lighter FortiExtender will make cellular edge networks achievable for businesses with lighter traffic, leaner staff or smaller budgets, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of FortiExtender and the Fortinet Security Fabric: fast, reliable edge connectivity managed and secured in a single pane of glass.
  • Global, Certified 5G: The introduction of FortiExtender 212F and 101F rounds out our portfolio of innovative cellular gateways, which also includes FortiExtender 511F announced in April 2021. The introduction of FortiExtender 511F marked the introduction of the fastest gateway in our portfolio with multigigabit edge connections over sub-6Ghz 5G spectrum certified by major service providers as well as CAT-20 LTE. This device can handle more traffic and bandwidth-intensive applications including OT and industrial deployments, high-performing retail networks, large healthcare facilities, and more

FortiExtender 5G/LTE for SD-Branch Deployments

Companies with a Fortinet Secure SD-Branch deployment looking to add an integrated 5G/LTE link option in dynamic path selection can include FortiExtender cellular gateways. To further improve our customers’ SD-Branch deployments, only Fortinet offers 5G/LTE and dual-modem gateways via PoE, allowing the device to be deployed anywhere for optimal reception (instead of being tethered to a router or needing to run expensive and antenna cables like other vendor solutions). Additionally, Fortinet is the only vendor offering fully integrated 5G/LTE with WAN Edge and Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) capabilities, providing the network and security automation necessary for SD-Branch architectures with direct internet access totaling hundreds, thousands, or even more egress points. 

FortiExtender cellular gateways provide 5G/LTE wireless WAN links for enterprise networks to extend the broadband edge beyond fixed options; ensure continuous cloud connectivity in SD-WAN; and secure local internet breakouts with multilayered protections--anywhere.

True Out of Band Management Keeps Deployments Disaster-proof

In addition to features such as elastic connectivity, high availability, load-balancing and integrated security, all FortiExtender cellular gateways offer Out of Band Management (OBM/OOB) for enterprises looking to enhance business continuity in case of an unexpected disaster. OBM/OOB Management, as a FortiExtender Cloud-driven feature, allows enterprises to continue site device management outside of the traditional provider network and deliver consistent connectivity even in the event of a wired link disaster or outage. Other solutions claim to deliver OBM/OOB, but almost all don’t support the most common types of wireless SD-WAN deployments.

FortiExtender Out of Band Management (OBM/OOB)

5G/LTE Integrated with the Industry’s Highest-Performing Cybersecurity Mesh Platform

FortiExtender seamlessly integrates into the Fortinet Security Fabric – the industry’s highest-performing cybersecurity mesh platform – to empower customers to apply industry-leading security and networking policies and controls to their 5G/LTE links while giving teams the option and flexibility of managing the device in FortiManager, FortiGate, or FortiExtender Cloud dashboards. That integration also includes FortiGate, the platform that positioned Fortinet as a Leader in both the 2021 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for WAN Edge Infrastructure and 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Firewalls.

With integrated next-generation firewall security and compatibility with one of the industry’s top SD-WAN solutions, no other 5G/LTE gateway vendor offers the same level of security, reliability, and performance.

Visit the FortiExtender site to learn more and set up a demo to start enhancing your edge broadband today!

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Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure, 15 November 2021, Mike Toussaint | Christian Canales | Tim Zimmerman

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Network Firewalls, 1 November 2021, Rajpreet Kaur, Jeremy D'Hoinne, Nat Smith, Adam Hils