Industry Trends

Managed Security Service Providers, Choosing the Right Security Vendor

By Stephan Tallent | March 01, 2017

Businesses struggling to secure their networks against determined cyber attackers are facing a perfect storm of challenges: most networks are in the midst of a dramatic transformation, including IoT, virtualization, and the cloud, the number and sophistication of network attacks is increasing, the cost of being breached continues to rise, and the security skills shortage continues to widen. As a result, many CISOs are looking to migrate some or all
of their risk out of their IT departments and into the hands of professionals such as managed security service providers (MSSPs).

The challenges facing these MSSPs are also considerable, including defending scores of customers while balancing security effectiveness against business profitability. As a result, today’s MSSPs need tools that are highly scalable, support multi-tenant environments, and provide robust, single-pane-of-glass management and orchestration.

They also need reliable, high-performance, and cost-effective security that allows their networks to dynamically adapt to changing risk environments, and that can also scale to secure hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of customers at once, even when traffic spikes unexpectedly.

To make this happen, MSSPs must select a security vendor that not only ensures their own success as a service provider, but also the security of the customers they protect. With hundreds of thousands of customer nodes under management, and billions of dollars of assets under their protection, the world’s top MSSPs hold their firewalls to extremely high standards for reliability, functionality, and flexibility.

Functions of the MSSP

At its core, an MSSP must provide two kinds of basic services: security asset management and continuous monitoring. Customers with multiple locations and business-critical applications running across the network have stringent uptime requirements, so device management and monitoring are crucial to maintain business productivity.

Many service providers also add security analytics and threat intelligence services to help mitigate new attacks, including actionable intelligence and a comprehensive view of the distributed security infrastructure. Going forward, these firms will likely differentiate themselves in new areas such as penetration testing, threat intelligence aggregation, information portals, and customer self-service.

Many MSSPs will also want to provide security remediation, incident response, compliance services, or loss prevention to further differentiate them in the market. Securing thousands of customer locations, meeting service delivery SLAs, and balancing profitability with engineering headcount and infrastructure are ongoing challenges facing MSSPs, so they need specialized security vendors that understand their business model and can help them meet customer requirements.

Why Top MSSPs Standardize on Fortinet

Frost & Sullivan recently recognized that “Fortinet has achieved a dominant position with MSSPs with its FortiGate line of high-performance firewalls.” In their recent ranking of over 100 network security platforms, Fortinet scored “the highest possible ranking among North American MSSPs.”

Fortinet covers critical aspects of an MSSP’s business model like no other security manufacturer—offering the best in multi- tenancy, the most hardware flexibility, the highest performance through hardware acceleration, and the lowest total cost of ownership of any security vendor.

What Makes Fortinet Different?

Fortinet understands that the MSSP is a strategically differentiated channel partner, and for years has developed technology specifically suited to the MSSP business model. A foundational tenet of our strategy is to enhance our MSSP Partners’ profitability.

Our unique channel enablement strategy creates a symbiotic relationship with MSSPs, as their customers rely on Fortinet products for network uptime and application availability, while Fortinet relies on the MSSP to win new customers with a blend of professional services and high-touch support that reduces our own cost of support.

Fortinet’s MSSP innovative strategy can best be described
in four key pillars or areas of influence: Vision, Technology, Economics and Support. These areas capture many of Fortinet’s differentiators for MSSPs, and help clarify the reasons for Fortinet’s dominance in the space.


Fortinet’s vision of security designed to operate as an integrated whole, while providing cost-effective performance and protection is key to its long-term position as a strategic business partner for network and managed security services providers.

Fortinet’s Strategic Visionary Investments

  • Industry-leading MSSP partner program
  • Global support from dedicated MSSP teams
  • Enhanced technologies service development support
  • Specialized team supporting best practices, customization, and automation
  • Cloud premium brand and broad support
  • SDN and NFV Development Partner

Fortinet’s vision focuses on ongoing security innovation, advanced threat intelligence, delivering the fastest security platforms on the market, OS portability to secure the cloud and IoT, and leadership in software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).

Fortinet’s vision is actualized around our end-to-end
security fabric that allows MSSPs to secure nearly any environment. This approach not only improves security, but also reduces operational costs and complexity for professional service organizations that are entrusted to secure their customers’ networks.


Ten out of ten top global carrier MSSPs use Fortinet in some of the busiest, highest-performance networks in the world. Why is that? There are several reasons:

Technical Dominance in the MSSP Market

  • Native multi-tenancy

  • Customizable centralized management and reporting
  • Extreme performance scalability and platform flexibility
  • Ongoing advanced technology research and development

All of Fortinet’s flagship security products support multi-tenant services and granular, delegated administration. This makes
it easy for a service provider to host multiple customers on a single security appliance or provide delegated administrative capacity and single-pane-of-glass management for the security infrastructure.

FortiGate firewalls also offer a broad suite of security controls that provide MSSPs with a full-featured platform to deliver advanced, adaptive security functionality to their customers. This allows the MSSP to deliver a wide variety of managed security services to match their customers’ security requirements.


MSSPs have distinct cost components to consider in their management accounting processes because they preside over a complex business model with profit margins as heavily dependent on operational efficiencies as they are on hardware and software costs.

Average revenue per unit (ARPU) is a key factor for MSSPs as they consider selecting security platforms for a managed security service. MSSPs are obviously looking for a higher return on investment, as they will often own the security asset and depreciate it accordingly.

Fortinet delivers the highest ARPU in the industry due to multiple unified threat management controls and high-performance hardware, allowing the MSSP to convert more services into revenue on a single device. Those aren’t the only reasons. Fortinet also delivers:

  • High-demand, revenue-generating controls
  • Inclusive threat intelligence service
  • Native virtualization per device
  • Enhanced technologies investment

This flexibility and functionality allows MSSPs to turn on more billable security services and secure more users behind one device than any other manufacturer.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) is another important economic consideration, as this encompasses the direct and indirect costs of deploying and managing a security platform. Fortinet provides the lowest TCO for a variety of reasons:

  • Scalable, centralized management and open source APIs for automation
  • Cost-effective hardware
  • Simplified subscription and support
  • OS uniformity across hardware and virtual platforms
  • Non-user-based bundled pricing
  • Special pricing models for OPEX
  • Mass deployment and automation toolkits for improved operational efficiencies

Fortinet presents the lowest TCO and highest ARPU of any security manufacturer.


Fortinet’s MSSP vision is global, with dedicated teams in each area of operation functioning under a worldwide standard for MSSP empowerment.

Fortinet MSSP specialists have backgrounds in managed security service provider operations, product development, and training that cross business development and engineering disciplines. They also understand the executive, operational, and sales aspects of the business. This expert level of support, along with the specialized content and tools they create, dramatically shortens market delivery timeframes and product development cycles, and increases the likelihood of a positive product launch while improving go-to-market results.

Fortinet’s MSSP teams also function as subject matter experts in an overlay organization that supports field sales, providing specialized support for partners with a mission of improving profit margins and operational efficiencies. This specialized support comes in the form of product development, financial modeling and engineering assistance, along with operational best practices documentation, market intelligence, and MSSP-specific sales collateral and go-to-market support.

Selecting a security vendor in today’s congested and confusing security market can be a real challenge. Fortinet has more experience and proven success in helping MSSPs build and deploy profitable managed security services than any other vendor in the industry. We have trained, professional teams ready to help you today.

Learn more about Fortinet’s industry-leading MSSP program here.