How To Provision A Branch Office Using Fortinet In Under 10 Minutes

‘You can have a fully provisioned network stack in your branch office in under 10 minutes, where it’s firewall, Wi-Fi, switch, and SD-WAN,’ says Steve Huddleston, a Fortinet senior systems engineer.


Customers in verticals such as retail can provision a branch office in less than 10 minutes by turning to Fortinet’s centralized management platform, a company executive said.

“You can have a fully provisioned network stack in your branch office in under 10 minutes, where it’s firewall, Wi-Fi, switch, and SD-WAN,” said Steve Huddleston, a Fortinet senior systems engineer. “It’s a pretty cool solution.”

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company’s FortiManager centralized management platform can be quite complex due to all the functionality built into it, Huddleston said Wednesday at NexGen 2019, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

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But Fortinet can dynamically map interfaces, device models, and IP addresses, Huddleston said, meaning that customers can set a particular firewall policy and apply it to all their branch locations. As a result, Huddleston said customers wishing to change their firewall policy only must do so once before pushing the new rules out to all the branch offices.

The FortiGate firewall can do so many things that some configuration work will be required at all branch sites, Huddleston said. However, by scripting functions, Huddleston said technicians can get devices up and running more quickly by setting host names and IP addresses as well as creating manuals.

Firewall policies and IP settings can be managed centrally for the devices in branch locations by using the graphical user interface (GUI), Huddleston said. In addition, Huddleston said the VPN Manager feature on FortiManager reduces the possibility of human error when setting up either a fully meshsed or hub-and-spoke VPN.

In addition, Huddleston said FortiGate can actually manage Fortinet Wi-Fi access points, allowing folks to quickly push out a standardized Wi-Fi configuration for a new branch office that operates off the same template. And the switch manager in FortiGate streamlines the set up process for configuring switches and VLANs (virtual local area networks), Huddleston said.

Branch offices with multiple internet connections can also be centrally provisioned and managed in less than 10 minutes, according to Huddleston. FortiManager is typically purchased by customers as a virtual machine sitting on the hypervisor and public cloud due to the scalability, Huddleston said, which allows customers to initially buy a small virtual machine and upgrade it over time as they get more devices.

Meanwhile, Huddleston said administrative domains in FortiManager allow for the established on role-based access with different levels of permission and control provided to different organizations or different people within the same organization. These administrative domains don’t impede the MSSP’s ability to fully access all customer environments and make whatever changes they deem necessary.

“FortiManager can do a lot. It’s a very powerful product,” Huddleston said. “I’ve been with the company for 10 years, and I’ve seen it come a long way. It’s extremely effective.”

FortiManager’s ability to put together templates should make it easier to assign tasks to less experienced technicians, according to Keith Nelson, vice president of technology at Irvine, Calif.-based Vistem Solutions. Getting network engineers and other high-ranking personnel off provisioning branch offices should free them up to do more around system design, Nelson said.

Setting up branch offices in less than 10 minutes seems realistic once solution providers have fine-tuned their templates and gotten up to speed on corporate policy, Nelson said. The templates will also allow field reps to get more involved in the deployment process in a controlled manner, Nelson said, boosting their familiarity with product interfaces and giving them more ownership over branch projects.