New Zealand-based service provider Spark NZ is deploying Fortinet's Secure SD-WAN service to 2,500 customer sites, in addition to the operator's own retail locations.
Spark has a long-standing partnership with Fortinet for its security services and will now offer Fortinet Secure SD-WAN to corporate, enterprise and government customers. Nirav Shah, senior director of products and solutions for Fortinet, says the SD-WAN service will provide Spark and its customers with improved application experience on-premises and in cloud applications, and the SD-WAN service will be quickly deployed with zero-touch provisioning.
"[Spark]'s customers are looking for an SD-WAN solution that not only provides the usual benefits, but an automation approach and scalable approach that is easy to deploy," says Shah. "Five years back when we started on the SD-WAN journey, our approach has always been security-driven networking, converging networking and security together."
Fortinet is steadily building its service provider customer base with over 15 partnerships with operators such as Softbank, Orange, Windstream and the addition of NTT West in early May. As the SD-WAN market matures, service providers are increasingly partnering with multiple SD-WAN vendors to meet customer demands.
Erin Dunne, director of research services for Vertical Systems Group, says the SD-WAN market is moving into its second generation where service providers that initially launched SD-WAN services with the likes of Silver Peak, VeloCloud by VMware and Versa, for example, are now adding multiple vendors to their suite of SD-WAN service offerings.
"Due to either customer requests or the overall service provider control of their network – operators said 'huh, we have to add some other functionality there,' " says Dunne.
Many enterprise customers have requested Cisco's SD-WAN services in the era of SD-WAN 2.0, since they were "already a 'Cisco shop,' " explains Dunne. However, as security for SD-WAN becomes more of a concern, security vendors are having their day in the sun – "You've seen Fortinet gain a lot more traction in service provider networks," adds Dunne.
"Security is one of the biggest issues with carrier-managed SD-WAN," says Dunne. Large customers migrating to SD-WAN from an IP VPN or a Layer 2 or Layer 3 service where security was baked in now face the challenge of securing their SD-WAN services, and that need for security is becoming a purchase driver, she says.
"Fortinet has done a really great job coming from the security market," explains Dunne. "It's a very simple business plan – they're already at the end points of millions of sites performing security features, many of which are DIY networks. If they can slash their boxes and allow for SD-WAN functionality, all of a sudden they're doing it."
In April, Vertical Systems Group announced its 2019 Leaderboard for US Carrier SD-WAN Services. Billable US installations of carrier-managed SD-WAN Services increased 89% last year, according to VSG, as large enterprises are increasingly looking to service providers for deployment and management of their SD-WAN services. In addition, Fortinet was one of the SD-WAN vendors ranked as the five most popular SD-WAN technologies utilized by managed service providers in the Leaderboard and Challenge Tier (ranked in order of the number of relationships they have with service providers), in addition to VMware by VeloCloud, Cisco vEdge (Viptela), Cisco Meraki MX and Versa.
Palo Alto is another security vendor making strides in the SD-WAN market – the company announced plans earlier this year to acquire SD-WAN supplier CloudGenix for $420 million.
At a time when many employees are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shah says Fortinet also provides remote access capabilities on its SD-WAN platform to provide continued service for customers working from home.
In addition to collaborating on SD-WAN, Spark is also taking advantage of Fortinet's reskilling programs. Spark claims to have the largest NSE-certified team in New Zealand – Fortinet's Network Security Expert (NSE) Institute provides a free eight-level training and a certification program. The program provides cybersecurity training as well as information on how to deploy and troubleshoot Fortinet's security products and solutions, and is free for anyone, not just Fortinet's customers.
"Working with Fortinet has added multiple strings to our bow in terms of the services we provide our enterprise customers," says Shelby Ighani, security infrastructure manager at Spark NZ, in a statement. "Fortinet Secure SD-WAN offers great value for Spark customers, as well as a mature and powerful security solution."
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading