Fortinet Fuses SSL & VOIP

Vendors, led by Fortinet, are scrambling to build all-singing, all-dancing security devices

May 2, 2005

3 Min Read
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LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- Fortinet Inc. has upped the ante in the race to build all-singing, all-dancing security devices, with an overhaul of its FortiGate appliance announced here at the Interop tradeshow.

Increasingly, users are looking for devices that combine a wide range of security functions previously available only in separate pieces of hardware and software. This emerging market has been dubbed Unified Threat Management (UTM) by analysts (see IDC: UTM Captures 12% of Market).

Fortinets flagship offering in this space is the FortiGate appliance, which combines hardware-based firewalls with anti-virus, intrusion detection and prevention, and content filtering features. Until today, the device offered only IPSec VPN support, although Fortinet is now adding SSL VPN and enhancing the device’s voice over IP (VOIP) capabilities.

”They have the most options and choices right now,” says Charles Kolodgy, an analyst at IDC. “It offers customers a lot of opportunities and choices, and allows them to use their Fortinet products as they need to secure their information.”

Last year, a Heavy Reading Report identified SSL VPNs as one of the hottest parts of the technology market (see Heavy Reading Analyzes SSL VPNs). However, there are, as yet, no throughput figures for the new FortiGate SSL VPN, which is still undergoing beta testing.FortiGate has played a major role in the rise of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, which hopes to launch an IPO later this year (see Top Ten Private Companies and Fortinet Fires Up for IPO). Fortinet has been touting FortiGate’s ability to undertake deep packet inspection of traffic, and this message appears to be getting through (see Fortinet Wins in Africa and Fortinet's Money Machine Rolls On).

Adam Stein, vice president of corporate marketing at Fortinet, told NDCF that the company has sold 80,000 FortiGate units since the device was launched three and a half years ago.

The move into the VOIP space could be shrewd, as users are wrestling with the challenge of deploying the technology across their data center infrastructures (see VOIP Security Poses a Problem and Vendor Points to VOIP Vulnerabilities).

Part of the VOIP security challenge is that IP phones can run through a range of firewall ports that are often left open. By contrast, the new FortiGate box inspects the call signaling protocol used by the phones, opens up a single port, and then closes it after the call is completed. “People are doing a lot of work in that space, so security is a big consideration,” says IDC's Kolodgy.

As might be expected, a number of rival firms are snapping at Fortinet’s heels. These include the likes of ServGate Technologies Inc., SonicWall Inc. (Nasdaq: SNWL), and Secure Computing Corp. (Nasdaq: SCUR).Neither ServGate nor SonicWall offer SSL VPN capabilities as part of their all-in-one security appliances, although a spokesman for ServGate says that firm will have such features in the summer. Matt Dreyer, product line manager at SonicWall, tells NDCF -- somewhat cryptically -- that his company is developing technologies to help manage a range of threats. “SSL VPN is something that we will consider for the future,” he adds.

Secure Computing, on the other hand, offers both SSL VPN and IPSec on its Sidewinder appliance, although the company has not yet specifically targeted VOIP.

The new version of the FortiGate device is set to be available in the second half of this year.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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