Business & Technology

Fortinet and MEF – Establishing Critical Secure SD-WAN Standards

By Satish Madiraju | January 06, 2020

While the rapid adoption of SD-WAN can be attributed to the fact that it represents a more agile and operationally efficient reference architecture, another important factor has been its adoption of critical standards. For SD-WAN to function seamlessly across a variety of platforms, including essential service provider environments, it needs to include an extensible and flexible service delivery architecture.

MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) is dedicated to facilitating the adoption of assured services orchestrated across global networks. It is currently supported by over 130 service providers worldwide, and is now the Standard Development Operation for SD-WAN. MEF helps define SD-WAN services standards that enable it to meet the evolving needs of today’s digital transformation efforts.

SD-WAN Consumers Require Security Standards

Unfortunately, initial efforts in the development of SD-WAN did not include security, and as a result, most solutions available on the market today lack the essential protections necessary to defend and secure business workflows and transactions. Organizations forced to build a security overlay for their SD-WAN solution from scratch quickly learned that they are not only expensive to develop, deploy, and maintain, but also undermines much of the performance and flexibility benefits SD-WAN was designed to provide.

In the short time that SD-WAN has become a critical element of organizational digital transformation, security has now become a critical topic for business and service providers alike. MEF is responding by developing new security standards for SD-WAN solutions with the support of key partners like Fortinet. These standards will ensure things like integration between connectivity and security functionality within an SD-WAN solution, as well as the use of APIs and open standards to ensure that SD-WAN can be seamlessly integrated into cloud services and service provider environments.

The SD-WAN Management Opportunity is Big

With SD-WAN managed services forecast to grow at a breakneck pace of 70% from 2019 to 2025, SD-WAN is a natural medium for service providers looking to attach security solutions onto their managed connectivity offerings. Given the nature of the data included in the business-critical applications, workflows, and transactions that pass through an SD-WAN solution, there is a significant opportunity for service providers to provide additional security offerings along with their centralized SD-WAN offering. The importance of an integrated and standards-based security offering in a value-add context cannot be overstated. For SD-WAN Value-Added Services to address today’s expanding market, a flexible security architecture is vital to meeting the demands of today’s consumers.

To that end, Fortinet has been actively engaged as a member of MEF since 2017, where we have been actively engaged in the development of new SD-WAN security standards. We currently lead a key Initiative in the MEF Applications Committee on Application Security for SD-WAN Services (MEF88). And in addition to being an active participant at the recent MEF19 conference – addressing key topics including SD-WAN application standards, security for SD-WAN, and Edge computing – we also won two MEF 3.0 Proof of Concept awards. The first was for developing security standards for secure connections between separate SD-WAN devices, and the second was for ensuring application security for SD-WAN services. 

SD-WAN Security Standards and Certifications Benefit Everyone

Flexibility in terms of deployment and connectivity will continue to be vital going forward as SD-WAN continues to evolve and adopts a greater measure of automated centralized control and reporting. In addition to things like connectivity management and traffic shaping, this will also require adaptable and integrated security functionality. As a result, SD-WAN standardization and certification are essential to help to drive the digital transformation of organizations and service providers alike. Fortinet is proud to be participating as a MEF partner to help establish these new standards and protocols to help organizations certify that their SD-WAN solution is able to ensure the stability, security, and reliability of their digital transformation efforts.

Take a security-driven approach to networking to improve user experience and simplify operations at the WAN edge – and find out how Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN Solution allows you to do just that. 

Read these customer case studies to see how Warrior Invictus Holding Co., Inc. and the District School Board of Niagara implemented Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN to alleviate network complexity, increase bandwidth, and reduce security costs.