Customer Stories

Fortinet Helps Restaurant Chain Prepare its Network for Cutting-Edge Digital Experiences

By Pat Vitalone and Courtney Radke | April 20, 2022

There are few industries as competitive as the quick-service restaurant sector. In such a crowded market, standing out means more than offering great menu items. One such restaurant with thousands of locations across the U.S. is doubling down on innovation. Its aim is to create compelling, personalized, digital-first customer and employee experiences that will enable next-level differentiation.

As the company looks to extend its digital footprint by leveraging cloud-based resources, network security and resilience have become priorities. With a growing attack surface, its legacy firewall infrastructure was no longer adequate. It required a modern, capability-rich security platform capable of tackling the biggest cyber threats facing the business.

Importantly, any new solution would also have to improve network performance, which at the time was having an adverse impact on employee-wide digital training services and other business applications. Bandwidth constraints also threatened to derail the company’s plans around innovative customer experiences and personalized multichannel loyalty programs.

The restaurant chain therefore put in place plans for a three-step secure network evolution across its thousands of restaurant locations.

A More Secure and Resilient Network

Following a competitive request for proposal (RFP) process, and after rigorous performance testing of its equipment, the chain selected Fortinet as its security partner for its network transformation. Managed by a managed security service provider (MSSP) on behalf of the client, Fortinet’s solution has now fulfilled the first two steps of the client’s network evolution strategy.

Fortinet’s solution centers on its industry-leading FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs), with security services enabled by the FortiGuard UTP (Unified Threat Protection) Bundle. Security services include content security such as intrusion prevention system (IPS) services and advanced malware protection, and web security such as DNS filtering in a consolidated security offering.

The comprehensive security features provided by the FortiGate NGFWs protect the edge without affecting the performance of the company’s new high-speed broadband network.

For primary wide-area network (WAN) connectivity, the chain uses broadband or satellite links as available. When it comes to redundancy, the company is benefitting from FortiExtender cellular gateways, which provide ultra-fast LTE and 5G wireless for failover in case of primary WAN service interruption. The Power over Ethernet (PoE) ports on FortiGate devices support easy deployment of FortiExtenders and future in-store wireless access points. With the LTE/5G cellular capabilities delivered by the FortiExtenders, the restaurant chain can leverage high availability, out-of-band management (OBM), and advanced threat protection in one solution.

The entire UTP bundle of security services is operated through FortiManager, which provides a single operating system for ease of management.

A Resilient and Secure High-Performance Network

With Fortinet’s solution in place, the restaurant chain benefits from a much more resilient and reliable network—and one that is capable of supporting the cloud-based applications and infrastructure that will be so important to its current and future digital experiences. The most immediate uplift has been in an improved employee experience, with staff now able to access digital resources in seconds. Looking ahead, the company plans to leverage increased network bandwidth and availability to drive compelling new customer experiences such as facial recognition for loyalty programs, menu optimization, and payments innovation.

Consolidation was another consideration for the client and one of the key reasons Fortinet was selected over the competition. With Fortinet, the NGFWs and LTE/5G Wireless WAN are managed as one solution, leveraging the single-pane-of-glass view delivered by FortiManager. Thanks to this high degree of consolidation, the client can leverage OBM to continue to manage branch policies if the branch’s broadband connection fails. For example, this is an important business continuity feature given the large number of payment card transactions that the chain needs to process securely in stores.

Finally, because of hidden threats in traffic, the company is benefitting from being able to perform man-in-the-middle SSL (secure sockets layer) inspection on encrypted traffic, with the ability to then cache the data for re-encryption. The company specifically sought out this feature during the vendor selection stage and only Fortinet was able to meet its needs, with the capability already built in to the FortiGate NGFWs.

The Next Stage in the Company’s Network Evolution

Now that the chain has a secure, resilient, and high-speed network in place, it is ready to take the next step in its network journey. The company is looking to turn its NGFW network into an SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area network) by enabling the FortiGate integrated secure SD-WAN capability, as well as adding switching and wireless access for a full network upgrade. The opportunity here would be to leverage the Fortinet Security Fabric to further consolidate security-driven networking and help the client make the most of its existing investments.

Find out more about how Fortinet offers retailers a broad set of networking and security technologies that are seamlessly integrated and automated to help retailers secure digital transformation initiatives, and keep updated on the latest industry trends: Industry Perspectives