Customer Stories

Major Retailer Converges Network and Security Systems With Fortinet Secure SD-WAN

By Rami Rammaha and Courtney Radke | June 15, 2022

For most retailers, effective networking must deliver on the three Ps: protection, performance, and price.

One major retailer with more than 1,700 stores had found that its legacy network was failing to meet any of these touchstones. For one, it was obliged to manage its security and network devices separately, which added cost and complexity. Additionally, given the adverse effect it had on network performance, the retailer could not fully utilize its IPS (intrusion prevention system). Other challenges included poor performance optimization and limited visibility into network traffic.

Overall, the retailer found itself with an expensive system that adversely affected business performance and profitability.

Future-proofing the Network

The company realized it was time for a fresh approach, especially given its plans around the cloud. Historically, its network had centered on two on-premises data centers, but it was moving forward with a new cloud-first model hosted on AWS. It therefore wanted a network and security infrastructure that would boost agility and performance both today, and in its cloud future.

As the retailer set out to build a new network, it had three clear business goals in mind: 

  1. Empower its IT teams to manage and control the infrastructure with a consolidated solution
  2. Ensure the security of its stores with an advanced security stack, and automated configuration
  3. Ensure a seamless path to the cloud and reduce its connectivity costs by leveraging the public internet instead of its legacy MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) lines

A Comprehensive Solution From Fortinet

The retailer put out an RFP (request for proposal) to start the search for its new network partner. Having already established a strong relationship with Fortinet, it was invited to participate. Following the RFP, the retailer asked Fortinet to provide a three-month POC (proof of concept), which led in turn to a six-month pilot program. Based on Fortinet’s superior product catalog and the results of the POC and pilot, the retailer awarded Fortinet the contract to commence roll-out of the Fortinet Secure SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area network) across its footprint.

The retailer’s Fortinet Secure SD-WAN is composed of FortiGate NGFWs (Next-Generation Firewalls) to provide edge security for its data centers and branch locations; and FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer for centralized device management and network analytics. As the retailer accelerates its journey into the cloud, the company will leverage virtual instances of the FortiGate devices to secure its AWS-based data center. Its store connectivity consists of active-active MPLS and cable/DSL for WAN link 1 and 2 followed by LTE cellular for WAN link 3 as a failover.

The Benefits of Converged Network and Security Systems

With its Fortinet platform in place, the retailer now benefits from a fully consolidated and converged network and security stack, with one appliance supporting all the retailer’s SD-WAN, advanced routing, and NGFW needs all managed through a single, cloud-based pane of glass.

The approach has greatly simplified both network and security management for the retailer, as it can scale and manage security for all 1,700 stores from one place. Additionally, thanks to flexible scripting options, the retailer’s IT teams can quickly automate configurations and security policies to meet the diverse needs of various locations.

The company’s network security has also greatly increased as a result of the deployment. As a key part of the Fortinet Secure SD-WAN solution, Fabric Management Center, including FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer, enable the retailer to benefit from complete network visibility, analytics, and reporting and management capabilities. As a result, its IT teams are better able to control the network and respond rapidly to potential issues the moment they arise. Further security benefits have resulted from centralized and automated configurations and policy management, which have eliminated errors that can occur with manual alternatives. This reduces security risk for the retailer. Beyond security, SD-WAN application steering, and advanced WAN remediation provide an improved user experience.

Through the Fortinet Secure SD-WAN, the retailer is also significantly reducing costs. In part, cost benefits result from the consolidation of its network and security systems. Further cost savings stem from reduced maintenance overheads as a result of consolidated appliance. Finally, as the Fortinet Secure SD-WAN runs on the public internet as its primary connection, the retailer has been able to reduce reliance on its expensive MPLS lines.

Cloud-ready Networking

With deployment well underway, assisted by Fortinet’s Professional Services team who are helping design and roll-out deployments to the company’s stores, the retailer is a big step further along on its journey to the cloud. Fortinet provides a comprehensive solution that addresses multiple use cases and provides a unified security policy across data centers, stores, and the SD-WAN implementation. The solution was designed to ensure that the retailer can quickly reduce its reliance on physical systems as it migrates to the cloud.

Across price, protection, and performance, the retailer has achieved a network fit to meet the current threat landscape and able to deliver the scale it needs. It has also built a partnership that it can grow with to realize its cloud-first future.

Find out more about how Fortinet offers retailers a broad set of network and security technologies that are seamlessly integrated and automated to help retailers secure digital transformation initiatives.