Fortinet To Simplify Partner Delivery Of Virtual Firewalls On As-A-Service Basis


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Fortinet plans to introduce a program later this year that creates a more organized, repeatable way for partners to deliver virtual FortiGate instances via a utility-based model.  

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based security vendor said it has a responsibility to create more margin-rich transactions for partners that aren't just dependent on Capex resale, according to Jon Bove, Fortinet's vice president of channel sales. The company expects to have some announcements and organization around FortiGate as a Service heading into the fourth quarter of this year, Bove said.  

"We're trying, with our partner-enabled services team, to drive more of an organized and repeatable motion for this to fit their business," Bove told CRN during Fortinet's Accelerate 18 conference in Las Vegas.  

[Related: Fortinet Execs: We're Selling More To Mid-Enterprise Due To Infrastructure Strength, Marketing Spend]

Fortinet will have an as-a-service "playbook" that the channel can choose from, with the company guiding partners around the productization and packaging of these offerings, which ultimately will be delivered through partner-enabled service teams, Bove said.

Fortinet wants to establish best practices pertaining to what customers are looking for around breach detection as a service or FortiGate next-generation firewalls as a service, Bove said. From there, Bove said the vendor plans to utilize its FortiSIEM, FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer technologies to create something that really fits what the end user desires.   

Partners will be able to deliver FortiGate as a Service as a cloud-attached service or in a manner where they consume and rebill it out, Bove said. The company is having internal conversations around how to best deliver FortiGate as a consumable, Bove said, and wants to sort through some challenges before rolling out the offering.   

The FortiOS network security operating system has had multitenancy built in from its inception, Bove said, meaning that the technology is readily available to spin up a FortiGate virtual instance and then deliver it to  multiple customers based off a single instance. Exactly how FortiGate as a Service is delivered will depend on the customer's environment and the use case it wants to address, he said.  

"Traditional resale is probably going to be a dying breed," Bove said. "We're seeing more and more customers wanting to structure their acquisitions through an operational expense as opposed to a capital expenditure."

Some of Fortinet's distributors and service provider partners have the interest and capability to develop their own as-a-service offerings around Fortinet's technology, which Bove said the company wholly supports. In fact, Bove said some Fortinet partners have already been delivering their own FortiGate as a Service offerings for more than five years.  

Fortinet partners have capitalized on their internal expertise to deliver everything from managed firewalls, managed e-mail, and breach detection as a- ervice to sandboxing and the security fabric as a service, Bove said.  

For these more sophisticated solution providers, Bove said Fortinet has become very good at taking its core FortiOS, leveraging FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer, and shrink-wrapping a managed offering for the partner to price out to their end customer as part of a per-month utility model.

Fortinet hopes to make Opex procurement accessible to a broader swath of its partner community through the FortiGate as a Service offering.

Customers have become more accustomed to getting their consumables on a single bill thanks to the rise of public cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, where customers pay for what they deploy and how much they consume, according to Bove.

It's critical that partners have the capacity to deliver a services-first offering, he said, so that they can maintain their connection to the CIO and CISO and not have procurement decisions be based purely on price.  

"There's definitely a tipping point in the market today," Bove said. "We're seeing partners trying to drive more services. And we just want to be very proactive through enablement of those services."

Customers increasingly want to consume IT in a rental or subscription model so they can access the capabilities and functionality of that technology without a large up-front investment, said Mark Moretti, vice president of infrastructure and security for Exeter, R.I.-based Carousel Industries, No. 61 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500.

"People want to have the flexibility to continue to grow in their environment," Moretti said. "I don't think there's many folks that want to own anything."

Consumption and subscription-based models allow end users to rapidly add or reduce capacity without incurring major costs, Moretti said. In fact, he said Carousel has gone as far as to actually own equipment on its own paper and then lease or rent it to customers.    

"I think the reward is really high," Moretti said.

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