Business & Technology

Fortinet’s Ken Xie on the Evolution of Cybersecurity & Work-From-Anywhere

By Fortinet | February 09, 2022

For over 20 years, Fortinet has been a driving force in the evolution of cybersecurity. Fortinet security solutions are the most deployed, most patented, and most validated in the industry. Fortinet's broad, complementary portfolio of cybersecurity solutions is built with interoperability and automation in mind, enabling a rapid, unified response to known and unknown threats while simplifying management. They also extend that performance and functionality to every network edge, including the newly expanded remote workforce and adaptive cloud environments that require data and compute resources to reside as close to the end-user as possible.

Ken Xie, Founder, Chairman, and CEO, recently offered his perspective on the cybersecurity industry, company momentum, and important customer trends after releasing Fortinet’s financial results for Q4 of 2021, marking another successful quarter and fiscal year for Fortinet around the world.

How Fortinet Leads the Evolution of the Cybersecurity Industry

To kick the interview off, we asked Ken Xie a few questions about how the cybersecurity industry is evolving and Fortinet's business momentum. Here’s what he had to say:

Can you give a brief overview of Fortinet’s business momentum?

We are very pleased with our performance. Our teams navigated through a challenging environment to deliver excellent growth and financial results.

In Q4, bookings increased 49% to $1.43 billion and billings increased 36% to $1.31 billion. Our G2000 billings growth accelerated to over 90%. Total revenue grew 29% to $964 million, with product revenues up 31%. For the full year, revenue was $3.3 billion and GAAP operating margin was 20%. We generated a record $1.2 billion of free cash flow and we reported our thirteenth consecutive year of GAAP profitability. And we passed an important milestone of more than 10,000 employees.

This strong business momentum reinforces our focus on key growth areas, such as the convergence of security and networking, the continued expansion of the Security Fabric mesh platform and our leadership in OT. Another factor driving our record-setting product revenue growth and market share gains has been the growing adoption of our Secure SD-WAN and 5G-enabled SD-Branch.

What are you hearing from customers today? What is top of mind?

Customers are increasingly focused on convergence, vendor consolidation to a fabric mesh platform to reduce complexity, and increasing performance and speed. As the network perimeter continues to fragment, security teams and tools are increasingly operating in silos. And efforts to integrate point solutions only add to the complexity because such workarounds need to be reconfigured every time one of the solutions in place needs to be updated. Addressing this challenge requires a more integrated approach, which is why Gartner is predicting that “by 2024, organizations adopting a cybersecurity mesh architecture will reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90%.”

Where will Fortinet focus going forward?

The total addressable market for network security is rapidly expanding and growing at a faster rate. To support this evolution, we are focused on leveraging our ASIC-supported Security Fabric mesh platform across the expanding network to drive better-than-industry-average long-term growth. Our unrivaled SPUs (security processing units) offer 5 to 10 times more security computing power than comparable systems, resulting in greater integrated functionality, lower costs, and reduced power consumption compared to a general CPU. And our virtual SPUs (vSPU) extend much of that same performance to non-physical environments. We are also helping customers solve the challenges of complexity through our security-driven networking and Security Fabric platform approaches. And our organically developed Security Fabric solutions, like email, web, endpoint, FortiGate firewall, advanced networking, and connectivity solutions, like SD-WAN, offer much broader protection, integration, and automation than our competitors’ offerings.

Evolving Cybersecurity Strategy to Support Work-From-Anywhere

As organizations accelerate digital initiatives with the need to deliver faster and better application experiences they struggle to keep their expanding networks secure. This challenge is increased by operational complexity, visibility gaps, and an expanding attack surface created by the transition to work-from-anywhere. Here’s what Ken Xie had to say:

How is Fortinet securing the expanding work-from-anywhere trend?

The COVID-19 pandemic greatly expanded the work-from-anywhere (WFA) model. According to Gartner, organizations are facing a hybrid future, with “75% of hybrid or remote knowledge workers [saying] their expectations for working flexibly have increased.” This has overwhelmed their staff, but it has also increased the complexity of their networks.

Fortinet last year announced the industry’s most complete solution for securing and connecting work-from-anywhere to better address this shift. Our Fortinet Security Fabric mesh platform delivers security, services, and threat intelligence that follows users at home, in the office, or on the road. This unified approach also includes critical networking and connectivity solutions to provide a complete enterprise-grade solution.

We are also working to secure WFA through our Training Advancement Agenda (TAA). On the heels of the Biden Administration calling for cross-sector leaders to tackle the cybersecurity challenges affecting organizations and people globally, we announced that we are furthering our commitment to significantly reducing the cyber skills gap. In addition to growing our programs and strategic partnerships to address the talent shortage plaguing our industry, we have pledged to train 1 million people globally across the next five years through our Fortinet NSE Institute and Fortinet TAA initiatives and programs. 

Can you speak to the evolving threat landscape? What should customers be thinking about?

The intensity and sophistication of cyber criminals continues to increase. They are taking a holistic approach to attacks. To address this challenge, organizations must adopt a security-driven networking approach that weaves core security capabilities combined with actionable threat intelligence deep into every environment of their network.  

This security-driven networking strategy enables organizations to have complete visibility across their entire network—from the core, out to the branch, the cloud, the home office, and the emerging edge—helping keep them relevant, competitive, and resilient. With security woven into their core, networks can also evolve, expand, and adapt to the next generation of digital innovation, including hyperscale, hyperconnectivity, and 5G+ environments.    

Find out how the Fortinet Security Fabric platform delivers broad, integrated, and automated protection across an organization’s entire digital attack surface to deliver consistent security across all networks, endpoints, and clouds.