Business & Technology

Reflections on Recent Customer Conversations: Zero Trust, SASE, and SD-WAN

By Nirav Shah | February 15, 2023

Even though traveling for work can sometimes be exhausting with missed connections or lost luggage, nothing can match the experience of meeting with a customer face-to-face. I was reminded of how important it is to talk to customers in person on a recent trip that took me through Europe and to Singapore. I visited the Fortinet Singapore office and met with enterprise customers, participated in our first SASE and zero-trust event, and presented our solutions to MSSPs and Fortinet partners.

Now that I’ve had some time to relax and reflect on my trip, I wanted to share a few insights I gained from meeting with a wide range of Fortinet customers.


Image source: T-Systems Singapore of panel discussion at the Future of SASE and Zero Trust Summit 2022

Zero Trust and SASE Are Top of Mind

The biggest takeaway from my travels is that zero trust and SASE are top of mind for a majority of Fortinet customers. This interest is driven by the move to hybrid work and is an important element of business transformation for the next 12 months at many organizations. I discussed how FortiSASE delivers networking and security convergence and the unique benefits of our single-vendor SASE approach. I also was amazed at how informed our customers are about remote access topics and enjoyed discussing our flexible Universal ZTNA approach, which secures users whether they’re working remotely or in the office.

When I talked with customers, they understand the challenges and risks associated with using VPNs. Our free FortiClient can help customers move to ZTNA at their own pace because FortiClient is both a VPN and a ZTNA agent. The Fortinet ZTNA architecture mirrors the VPN infrastructure, which means customers can use FortiClient to improve their remote-access situation by shifting from using a VPN network to a ZTNA network. They can move to use ZTNA in a controlled manner, moving application coverage, one application at a time, over to ZTNA, while continuing to use VPN for the remaining access requirements. At a meeting about Universal ZTNA and discussing how FortiClient can ease the transition, a customer immediately wanted to do a proof-of-concept upgrade to FortiClient.

During a customer conversation with a manufacturing company, it was clear that security compliance is becoming increasingly important to meeting their business goals. They’re already using our FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls at their smart factories, but they have a small IT team and remote users are using the free version of FortiClient for VPN. We talked about the importance of accessing key resources in the smart factory and how ZTNA can be a key solution that will be implemented on top of their existing firewall. They have decided to move to a FortiClient and endpoint management for explicit application access on ZTNA. Being able to move to ZTNA without making big changes to their network was a major factor in their decision to improve remote access with Universal ZTNA.


Visibility and Monitoring Are Crucial

On my trip, I learned that customers have lots of questions about Fortinet Secure SD-WAN as well. I talked with a global customer with more than 1,000 locations and one of their key concerns was rich visibility and monitoring without unnecessary complexity. I discussed our latest capabilities using FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer coupled with our AIOps and digital experience monitoring, and it was well received.

Vendor sprawl and complexity are challenges for many customers I meet, and network complexity invariably has an impact on visibility. For example, I talked to a customer with an extremely complex IT and operational technology network from more than 10 vendors with solutions for VPN, cloud access security broker, wireless, next-generation firewall, and micro-segmentation.

With so many products from so many different vendors they were suffering from a lack of visibility and their CISO was worried about OT security. I discussed the Fortinet approach along with integration with key OT providers. The company only has FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls, so I discussed how having a converged network and security platform could benefit their organization.

I explained how Fortinet converges networking and security across the LAN, wireless LAN, and wide area network components such as SD-WAN and WAN gateway devices. And how everything is tied together using a single operating system, FortiOS, and management console. By converging networking and security, they’d be able to take advantage of the artificial intelligence and machine learning in Fortinet FortiAIOps.


Listening, Learning, and Responding to Challenges

Getting out and talking to customers is always educational. I also had the chance to meet a customer with a successful Fortinet SASE deployment and it was gratifying to hear about their positive experience and how they are looking to continue rolling out the solution to more users. Cybersecurity can be complex but learning more about the challenges our customers are facing helps us better understand how we can meet their needs. Whether it’s simplifying the move from VPN to ZTNA by including both in a single client or improving visibility through convergence and product consolidation, Fortinet is always looking for ways we can improve our technology to help customers.

The Fortinet Security Fabric is key to how we can offer solutions that provide comprehensive cybersecurity protection for users, devices, and applications across all network edges.​ Find out more about our ZTNA, SASE, and AIOps solutions that help organizations secure people, devices, and data everywhere.