Fortinet rolls out SD-WAN appliance aimed at operational technology environments

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – SiliconANGLE.

Fortinet Inc. this week announced its FortiGate Rugged 70G with 5G Dual Modem, the latest appliance from the company, built on its fifth-generation security processor.

The product has been hardened and is specifically designed to meet the demands of industrial environments. It simplifies the complex and costly infrastructure needed for high-performance networking in remote locations, while its rugged design ensures that it can withstand the harshest conditions.

FortiGate Rugged 70G combines several critical functions into a single compact device that can be deployed anywhere. The product has advanced security features, including secure boot, biometric verification and a next-generation firewall with artificial intelligence-powered FortiGuard services. It also supports local area network and wide area network security, including software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN, and zero-trust network access with 5G connectivity.

“What differentiates this in the market is the convergence of all these functions into a small form factor,” said Rami Rammaha, secure SD-WAN director of product marketing at Fortinet. “That will simplify things for customers when operating their networks. And with the dual active-active connections, customers can take advantage of the high-performance 5G and have high availability and redundancy.”

The appliance employs Fortinet’s security processing unit, or SP5, outperforming standard off-the-shelf processors in encryption, firewall performance, SSL inspection and energy efficiency. According to Rammaha, FortiGate Rugged 70G consumes 88% less power than other processors, aligning with the growing demand for energy-efficient and sustainable solutions in industrial environments.

Fortinet’s willingness to spin its own silicon has been a key differentiator since its inception. Cybersecurity is extremely processor-intensive, and by making its own chips, Fortinet can design silicon optimized specifically for the task at hand.

This is the same value proposition that a company such as Nvidia Corp. delivers with a graphics processing unit. Central processing units cannot meet the demands of gaming graphics, but a GPU is a chip designed specifically for graphics, hence the name. Similarly, Fortinet’s SP5 is custom designed for security. In addition to price/performance benefits, the SP5 allows Fortinet to deliver consistent features across all its products, so an engineer using any Fortinet product will have a similar experience.

Beyond industrial environments, Fortinet discovered an unexpected use case in banking, specifically for remote automated teller machines. One large U.S. bank needed a more efficient way to handle its extensive network of 28,000 ATMs in stadiums, malls and outdoors. The bank sought a solution to manage traffic across multiple data centers and provide reliable connectivity, even in places without wired internet access.

The bank switched from using multiple products for a competitor to a single FortiGate Rugged 70G, simplifying its deployment and management process. The inclusion of SD-WAN capabilities allowed the bank to precisely direct traffic and apply quality of service measures, thereby improving the user experience. Another key requirement was dual 5G connectivity with active-active support, allowing for seamless failover between two carriers, AT&T and Verizon, to ensure availability and minimize service interruptions.

Finally, centralized, software-defined management provided easy orchestration of services across multiple sites and gave the bank complete visibility of its network. This comprehensive feature set, packed into a compact platform, not only met the bank’s immediate requirements but also “attracted interest from other banks,” said Rammaha.

Despite its long name, the FortiGate Rugged 70G with 5G Dual Modem is a versatile appliance for secure and reliable network connectivity in challenging environments. Its energy efficiency, durability and centralized control make it ideal for operational technology environments.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.