Business & Technology

Introducing FortiExtender 511F: Secure 5G Wireless WAN Connectivity for SD-WAN and SASE

By Thomas Nuth | April 29, 2021
FortiExtender 511F

5G is enabling Wireless WAN technologies (WWAN) to become ultra-fast, accelerating the ability for organizations to become more distributed. From industrial operational technology (OT) to IT applications, enterprise and mobile network operators (MNOs) can now provide organizations with advanced cellular technology that makes WWAN not only a useful, but often times a more sensible means of connecting business operations to the internet—especially when compared to conventional WAN infrastructure options. And as the now common ‘work from anywhere’ enterprise culture becomes the new normal, the need to implement a reliable, high-performance WAN infrastructure that can reach out to even the most distributed users or support most resource-intensive applications and services will only continue. 

This is not some event in the future. The fact is, the adoption rate of new WWAN technology is already staggering. According to a recent survey from by ABI Research and Nokia, over 90% of 600 manufacturer respondents are already considering implementing 4G/5G private wireless technologies to improve the flexibility and agility of their operations. The days of inflexible, immovable, locked-in linear production lines and inaccurate asset tracking are over.

With 5G in place, WWAN networking will reach new levels of reliability and performance, enabling remote and mobile applications across the globe to become more automated and operational without being tethered to DSL, Cable, or MPLS networks. However, as networks expand with 5G, so does the attack surface. Correctly navigating this shift for most organizations will not only be critical for maintaining an edge in business agility, but also to limit their exposure to risk. As a result, the deployment of 5G technology must include integrated security along with peripheral technologies that work with the network, such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Software-Defined Networking (SD-WAN). 

5G Connectivity at the Cost of Security?

The cause for this massive shift toward 5G adoption is the urgent need for high-performance wireless connectivity across an ever-expanding edge, now comprised of not just remote workers, but remote applications and systems ranging from programmable logic controllers (PLC) used in industrial control systems, to Point of Sale (POS) solutions. For example, retailers today depend on WWAN more than ever to audit and maintain inventory, manage pricing, and empower real-time, customized customer experiences. Similarly, industrial and OT networks rely on high-performance wireless connectivity to operationalize fleet systems and analyze large data flows critical for things like preventative maintenance, dynamic systems integration and coordination, and risk prevention. But connectivity alone is not enough. Building out a 5G strategy must integrate both networking and security. 

The Fortinet Security-Driven Networking Difference

5G offers up to ten times the speed of conventional LTE, empowering the rigorous connectivity and availability requirements for industrial systems, hyperconnected city networks, and multi-site retail locations that were not possible with LTE cellular connectivity. However, scaling operations outward with 5G connectivity requires security designed to keep pace. And this is a significant challenge facing enterprises. That’s because most security systems simply can’t sustain support for true 5G performance. And worse, most solution providers today provide either 5G connectivity or network security services, not both. 

At Fortinet, we see networking and security as inseparable. Our Security-driven Networking strategy is defined by a next generation approach that tightly integrates the network and security infrastructure so that both WAN and WWAN expansion can happen at scale without ever compromising an organization’s risk posture. This unified approach is essential for effectively defending today’s highly dynamic 5G ecosystems. 

Introducing FortiExtender 511F – 5G Connectivity for SD-WAN and SASE

FortiExtender has long been a key part of Fortinet’s Security-driven Networking solution, offering secure and resilient LTE connectivity for enterprise, retail, and other multi-site ecosystems. However, with the introduction of Fortinet’s new 5G product—FortiExtender 511F—end users now have the ability to leverage the power of Fortinet’s enterprise-grade security at every edge coupled with the low latency and ultra-fast speed of 5G. 

In addition to the pure performance that 5G offers, FortiExtender also provides unique integration capabilities through Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN offering. This unified connectivity and security solution allows users to simplify operations at the WAN edge with integrated next-generation firewall (NGFW) functionally and advanced networking capabilities to enforce SD-WAN SLAs to maintain optimal user experience while maintaining enterprise-grade protection. While FortiExtender provides secure, high-performance 5G connectivity to the WAN infrastructure, Secure SD-WAN enables deep application identification, including for encrypted traffic, and advanced application and networking capabilities, such as dynamic multi-path steering and self-healing connections, to ensure that organizations are able to quickly and easily access business-critical applications everywhere. Fortinet is the only vendor to provide integrated SD-WAN, NGFW, and 5G controller operating through a common operating system, FortiOS, for maximum interoperability, and all managed by single console. And in keeping with the need for extended wireless connectivity, FortiExtender can also play a key role in enabling SASE for thin branch locations with FortiSASE. Simply deploy the FortiExtender 5G appliance at any branch office, remote site, or retail location to roll out world-class security delivered in the cloud. 

Why Fortinet?

The introduction of the 5G FortiExtender solution marks the end of the disparity between 5G connectivity and network security solution vendors. With 5G connectivity provided by Fortinet, the enterprise can turn to a single vendor to connect, secure, and optimize their end-to-end 5G ecosystem.

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