Customer Stories

Healthcare Organization Converges Networking and Security with FortiGate Secure SD-Branch

By Troy Ament and Chris Hinsz | January 04, 2022

It is not news that healthcare organizations are in the crosshairs of cyberattackers looking to steal valuable personal information. Geographically dispersed healthcare organizations also face a particularly complex set of challenges to their cybersecurity and network operations. Limited personnel, bandwidth constraints, and slim budgets may reduce the ability of healthcare businesses to deploy and secure a high-performance network across many office locations. At the same time, there is a proliferation of connected devices, and high-performance access is needed to a variety of healthcare apps and electronic health records.

One Latin American healthcare organization faced these pressures as it grew operations to include more than 30 branches—such as outpatient centers, clinics, and laboratories—across an entire country. Its technology infrastructure needed to provide fast connectivity so that healthcare service providers could coordinate care seamlessly as the organization scaled. Decision-makers saw software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) as an excellent option for improving application performance and resiliency across all 30-plus offices.

The company also needed to build a secure architecture to protect its web applications and healthcare, administrative, and visitor networks. It had experienced several security challenges originating from its disparate office locations, so network visibility and access control were key requirements.

Finally, the solution needed to be cost effective. In the organization’s legacy network architecture, unnecessary licenses and subscriptions increased cost and complexity, as the network included multiple point products that were managed, priced, and licensed separately.

For all these reasons, the healthcare organization turned to Fortinet.

Trust in FortiGate Network Firewalls Leads to SD-Branch Vision

The company already protected its healthcare network with FortiGate Network Firewalls. Based on their positive experience with Fortinet, IT decision-makers were confident that Fortinet could deliver what it promised. When the time came to plan out its SD-WAN vision, the healthcare organization worked with Fortinet through workshops and discussions to design its infrastructure. Fortinet proved that it could enable Secure SD-WAN on FortiGate devices and could consolidate next-generation firewall (NGFW) security, WAN connectivity, and wired and wireless local-area network (LAN) controllers into a single, easy-to-manage device at each location. This approach would reduce network complexity, simplify management, and reduce costs for the healthcare business.

The organization worked with Fortinet to deploy FortiGates to provide NGFW security services and Secure SD-WAN in the corporate data center and across all branches. Next, the healthcare organization extended Fortinet’s security-driven networking into the branches. It deployed FortiAP secure wireless access points and FortiSwitch switching at each branch location for secure Wi-Fi connectivity to the LAN. By unifying WAN and LAN environments, FortiGate Secure SD-Branch provides coordinated protection across the entire network. The new architecture also enables the healthcare organization to rapidly scale operations across new offices and geographic locations.

Visibility and Control from a Single Platform

Since the implementation took time, and the organization still had sites with legacy networking devices as the rollout progressed, the IT team used FortiNAC Network Access Control to gain endpoint visibility and control across the entire network. This enabled the Fortinet Security Fabric to interoperate with the legacy networking devices.

The organization uses the Fortinet Fabric Management Center, which comprises FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer, to configure and monitor the SD-Branch solution through a single, central pane of glass. Combining security and networking management in one platform helps to ease the burden on limited IT staff while minimizing total cost of ownership (TCO). Zero-touch deployment features reduce the burdens associated with initial setup and business growth over time.

A Simple and Secure Solution

With FortiGate Secure SD-Branch integrated with the Fabric Management Center, the organization simplified management of its network infrastructure while also getting NGFW security capabilities. This approach positions the healthcare organization to keep growing, with the network performance and security that its operations—and ultimately its customers—require.

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.