Business & Technology

Using Fortinet Secure SD-WAN to Build Tomorrow’s Networks

By Nirav Shah | August 30, 2022

Digital acceleration and hybrid work models continue to cause challenges for IT teams as networks are expected to do more, and do it faster. But as new technologies and initiatives are adopted, infrastructures rapidly expand and can become seriously fragmented. As a result, performance, connectivity, user experience, and security become more difficult to manage and maintain.

However, to support the business, every user and device must be assured rapid access to critical resources, whether on-premises, at home or traveling. And more, these resources must be able to rapidly scale to deliver an optimal user experience as well as gather and process data from distributed sources to enable better business decisions.

The challenge is that most enterprise networks now include data centers, campuses, branch offices, private clouds, public clouds, home offices, and workers on the move. All of these must be secured efficiently, effectively, and consistently. But far too often, organizations rush to add new technologies without a security plan. The resulting gaps in security can put organizations at risk. A recent report found that 93% of OT organizations experienced an intrusion in the past 12 months, with 78% experiencing more than three.

Solve WAN, Application Performance, and Security Challenges with Secure SD-WAN

Fortinet Secure SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) addresses connectivity, access, and security. Rapid cloud on-ramp and advanced application steering give users in branch offices the same level of access to business-critical applications deployed in the cloud or data center as those on-premises. The solution was originally designed to securely replace static MPLS connections with flexible, intelligent traffic steering to business-critical applications. Today, Fortinet Secure SD-WAN goes beyond the WAN to address key network and security challenges with Security-Driven Networking.

The first solution to support a security-driven network, Fortinet Secure SD-WAN is built inside a proven security platform. This means security and networking operate as a single system to ensure protections are part of even the slightest changes to a connection, while ensuring that all application traffic is fully inspected and secured in real-time. And it does all this with no network slow-downs, thanks to purpose-built ASICs.

With Fortinet, secure WAN connectivity can be seamlessly coupled with FortiAP access points, FortiSwitch switches, FortiNAC network access control, and enterprise-grade cybersecurity. This enables IT teams to extend protections beyond connectivity to include segmentation, access control, traffic inspection, and direct internet access to the branch local area network (LAN). At the same time, remote management of all aspects of the software-defined branch (SD-Branch) is improved. And integration with LTE and 5G via FortiExtender ensures reliable connectivity for every connection even if there is a failure of broadband connections.

"Fortinet Secure SD-WAN is an excellent foundation to hold together today’s distributed, hybrid networks. Our solution includes the ability to monitor and manage today’s complex and often temporary connections."

Centralized Management with Integrated Secure SD-WAN

End-to-end visibility is rare in today’s disparate, ever-changing, complex networks. This sheds light on why a recent survey revealed that more than 80% of organizations are challenged to implement a zero-trust strategy across the organization.

As the number of connections multiply, the complexity of keeping track of and managing them increases exponentially. Human analysts are unable to keep up with detecting and troubleshooting issues. This is one reason why a single-vendor integrated platform approach is far preferable to a multi-vendor strategy.

One critical advantage of Fortinet Secure SD-WAN, a fully integrated SD-WAN platform, is that it can be managed through a central, single-pane-of-glass console. Policies can be orchestrated, configurations can be standardized and validated, and data can be centrally gathered and correlated. And, for more advanced NetOps environments, FortiAIOps (Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations) and FortiMonitor Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) can be added. These technologies leverage the interoperability of converged solutions to automate troubleshooting, better pinpoint issues, monitor and maintain user experience, and generate or even resolve tickets that traditional systems would otherwise miss.

Deploying Secure SD-WAN for SASE Integration

By deploying physical and virtual versions of Fortinet Secure SD-WAN across the data center, private, and public clouds, IT teams are now able to quickly create high-performance, secure, ad-hoc connections to ensure that applications and workflows are fully protected as they move across and between these environments. This is especially useful in OT environments where zero trust is replacing inherent trust as the preferred model for accessing production-level equipment.

It also enables the deployment of FortiSASE secure access service edge, a powerful solution that can extend those same connectivity and security advantages to remote workers and thin client branch offices. All powered by one OS, FortiOS. FortiSASE uses tested and validated components to provide significant management and performance advantages over solutions cobbled together from a variety of vendors.

Recent research has shown that integration and interoperability are crucial. Nearly 40% of organizations surveyed say that instead of selecting best-of-breed products, they now intentionally select integrated security platforms. According to one CISO, “Integration and interoperability are the new best-of-breed.”

Our integrated, single-vendor SASE solution proves that claim. Organizations can deploy a simple-to-use and centrally managed SASE solution that extends the same services and user experience to remote and mobile workers as those enjoyed by workers on-premises and in the branch. We achieve this by combining Fortinet Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), CASB (cloud access security broker), and cloud-based SD-WAN technologies in one cloud solution, and tying them to a robust, unified endpoint agent.

And because Fortinet solutions operate from a single OS, FortiSASE can be seamlessly integrated with on-premises networking solutions, like FortiSwitch and FortiAPs. This eliminates the shortcomings of many SASE connections that simply end at the edge of the network. Because our cloud-based SASE solution uses the same technologies that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, consistent capabilities and policies are applied everywhere that can follow an application or workflow end-to-end. Management can be centralized and policies can be orchestrated to ensure consistent enforcement, access, and prioritization.

Future-Proof Your Network with a Fortinet Secure SD-WAN Foundation

Fortinet Secure SD-WAN is an excellent foundation to hold together today’s distributed, hybrid networks. Our solution includes the ability to monitor and manage today’s complex and often temporary connections. This gives IT teams visibility into the entire network to:

  • Anticipate and troubleshoot network issues
  • Automate remediation
  • Implement and enforce policy
  • Centrally control access to applications and resources per user, per device, per session, and per application

But that’s not all. Our fully-integrated platform can be deployed anywhere—in the campus and data center, in private and public clouds, in the OT network, and as a cloud-based service—enabling it to serve as the foundation for deploying and managing a zero trust edge (ZTE). Within that model, Fortinet Secure SD-WAN plays a critical role in enabling the secure and reliable collection and processing of data using new distributed computing models. It can also deliver remote management, enhanced application access, data encryption and inspection, and the secure distribution of information. It has been proven to provide significant performance and management advantages over solutions that are not integrated.

Take a security-driven networking approach to improve user experience and simplify operations at the WAN edge with Fortinet Secure SD-WAN.