The central design feature of the new appliances is their scalibility, said Chris Simmons, director of product strategy at Fortinet. "We have that built-in scalability for something that we're calling the 'pay-as-you-grow' expansion. You can buy into the FortiGate platform today with the investment protection and the piece of mind knowing that as your needs grow you can add more performance on demand," Simmons said. The new appliances run on the latest version of Fortinet's operating system, FortiGate OS 4.0 MR2 (for maintenance release two), which adds vulnerability management that performs assessment scans on traffic and then sends those results up to the system's central management solution, he said.
The two appliances, with prices starting at $80,000, and additional 20Gbps firewall modules, starting at $24,000 each, are available now. Another set of 20Gbps modules to expand intrusion prevention capacity will become available early in the third quarter. Enhanced firewall performance is needed to handle the exponential increases in network traffic that enterprises have to manage, said Charles Kolodgy, research vice president for secure products at IDC. "Networking speeds continue to grow as more mobile devices are connected to the Internet and as content becomes heavier -- with video and voice instead of just data. The ability to process those data streams is difficult, especially when content security -- anti-malware and IPS -- is performed with application awareness," Kolodgy wrote in an e-mail interview.
In the entry-level market for firewall security appliances, Fortinet competes in a crowded marketplace with companies such as Cisco Systems, Check Point, Crossbeam, Juniper Networks, Palo Alto Networks and SonicWALL, Simmons explained. But in the high-end market for appliances like the 3950B and 3951B, the market thins out to just Fortinet, Juniper and Crossbeam. IDC research from March of this year shows that in the market for firewall and unified threat management appliances priced between $50,000 and $99,900 -- where the 3950B and 3951B are positioned -- Fortinet held a 16.8 percent market share in 2009, second to that of Juniper at 32.9 percent.