Business & Technology

Ken Xie on Fortinet’s Business Momentum, TAA, and the Future of Cybersecurity

By Fortinet | May 24, 2021

For the past 21 years, Fortinet has been focused on developing a comprehensive security platform designed to protect all network edges, adapt to digital innovation requirements, and unify networking and security functions into a single solution. Fortinet's CEO Ken Xie has worked to create a broad, integrated, and automated approach that has been very successful. More than a half a million organizations now trust Fortinet to protect their distributed networks.  

Much of this is due to our commitment to advanced innovation, evidenced by our over 700 patents—the most of any security vendor. This includes our being the only vendor in the industry to have had the foresight to develop advanced security processors, or SPUs. These SPUs have paved the way for full support of the new hyperperformance applications and networks being introduced by 5G and beyond. And Fortinet’s advanced security solutions 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.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ken Xie, Fortinet’s founder and CEO after the release of Fortinet’s financial results for Q2 of 2021, marking yet another breakaway successful quarter for the organization. Read for more details.

Fortinet recently announced financial results for Q2, what were some of the main takeaways?

Ken Xie - We continue to focus on innovation to ensure the future of cybersecurity. In the first quarter of 2021, we released FortiOS 7.0, which is the foundation of our cybersecurity platform. It is the industry’s first OS-level solution to tightly integrate broad security and network functions into a unified solution. Because of this, we have been able to build SASE, SD-WAN, ZTNA, SWG, CASB, and 5G capabilities into a single security platform, the Fortinet Security Fabric, so organizations can deploy the advanced security and connectivity solutions required by today’s digital markets. And this quarter, we announced the FortiGate 7121F, the world’s fastest Next Generation Firewall. It is the only Firewall with Hyperscale 400G interfaces. And because it is powered by our custom NP7 SPU (Security Processing Unit), it delivers security compute ratings of nearly 20X greater than competitive solutions. 

We are also proud of our partnership efforts. We already work with hundreds of third-party vendors as part of our Security Fabric ecosystem, which is the largest program of its kind in the industry. And British Telecom just announced a new managed secure SD-WAN service powered by Fortinet. This comes right on the heels of AT&T and BT announcing new managed services that combine Fortinet’s SD-WAN with essential network security functions of the SASE framework. 

Investment in growth is a big theme for Fortinet, what are the main areas where Fortinet continues to invest?

Ken Xie - Our top investment priorities are focused on those technologies today’s organizations require to compete securely in the digital marketplace. Our new FortiSASE solution ensures that remote users and devices, in any location, can enjoy the exact same security protections as any device connected directly to the core network. Zero Trust Access (ZTA) helps distributed organizations, especially those with a large remote workforce, provide secure connectivity to specific resources based on things like a user’s role, the type of device being used, or even when or from where a connection is made. 

We are also committed to helping organizations take full advantage of new 5G functionality, including high performance and low latency, by providing full protections and inspection without slowing down performance. And it doesn’t end there. We are preparing now for the next generation of solutions organizations will need to support, whether it’s the 5G networks now being developed, hyperconnected systems such as smart buildings, cities, or manufacturing floors, or increasingly mobile users building temporary networks to develop and share critical information, applications, and workflows.

Our continued development and integration of AI into our systems completes this strategy. Security decisions today need to be made locally, quickly, and accurately. This can only be done if Machine Learning and AI are built into every element of the security framework. We already have the most robust AI systems in the industry built into our security devices, threat intelligence systems, and SOC solutions. But we are committed to expanding those resources through a combination of innovation, training advanced AI systems, and integration into more solutions and environments.

What is top of mind for customers as we near the 2nd half of 2021 in terms of securing their organizations for the future?

Ken Xie - Two of the biggest issues facing organizations are the need to consolidate their security infrastructure and to extend their security policies across their expanding networks. This may seem contradictory. But the reality is, you cannot effectively extend security—and with it, visibility and control—unless you can simplify management and centralize orchestration. And that is virtually impossible to achieve when you have several dozen different security solutions from different vendors deployed in different parts of your network. 

Our Fortinet Security Fabric platform is designed to run in any environment. It leverages the power and functionality of FortiOS 7.0 to provide a full suite of advanced security and networking functions to any user, device, or application while ensuring consistent visibility and policy enforcement across even the most dynamic networks. That includes centralized orchestration, threat intelligence collection and correlation, and a coordinated response across the distributed network to malicious attacks.

But this goes beyond just security. The perimeter not only extends across the entire IT infrastructure, but beyond the traditional trusted zone. And today’s networks are also very dynamic. This means that for digital resources to be protected along the entire data path, security and networking need to function as a unified system. That’s why we continue to expand our Security-driven Networking strategy. It enables security to follow data and applications from end-to-end, regardless of how rapidly the underlying network changes or adapts. This is critical for enabling flexible, anywhere, anytime, secure remote access, especially for enabling the home office to function as the “new branch.“

In addition to advanced technologies, closing the cyber skills gap remains urgent today. How is Fortinet continuing to shape the future of cybersecurity and foster new talent?

Ken Xie - Fortinet is committed to closing the cybersecurity skills gap through our Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) by providing training of all skill levels, connecting professionals to employers, and creating partnerships to bring untapped talent into the cybersecurity profession. 

Our NSE Training Institute is a critical part of our TAA efforts. It is a global program serving new users, IT and security professionals, and underrepresented populations around the world. NSE delivers more than 30 technical courses on critical topics, ranging from personal online security to cloud security to specific technologies such as SD-WAN. And we have now made many of our self-paced technical training courses available to the public free of charge. There have been more than 1,000,000 registrations for these free courses to date.

Our Fortinet Academy Program provides training materials, resources, and certifications to students in more than 350 high schools, colleges, and universities in more than 85 different countries and territories. 

Our Veterans program, our partnerships with Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) and WOMCY Latin America, and others also allow us help nontraditional candidates successfully transition into careers in cybersecurity. 

But that’s not all, Fortinet is also co-founder of the World Economic Forum’s Center for Cybersecurity and a Charter Member of the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA). We also work with many other organizations such Interpol, NATO, and others. Our goal in all of these efforts is to help create a digital world that everyone can trust.

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.

Find out more about how Fortinet’s Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) and NSE Training Institute programs, including the Certification ProgramSecurity Academy Program and Veterans Program, are helping to solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.