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Symantec, Fortinet Form Expansive Partnership Around Cloud Security

Michael Novinson
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Platform security giants Symantec and Fortinet have expanded their partnership to form tight integrations across their network, endpoint and cloud security products.

The companies said that Fortinet's Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) capabilities will be integrated into Symantec's cloud-delivered Web Security Service (WSS) in the first half of 2019 to provide cloud-delivered threat prevention. In addition, Symantec's endpoint protection offering will be integrated into Fortinet's FortiGate Security Fabric to provide customers with actionable, real-time threat intelligence.

"We wanted to work with an industry leader, and Fortinet was at the top of our list," Peter Doggart, Symantec's vice president of partner strategy, told CRN. "Customers are not looking at 40 or 50 independent cybersecurity products anymore. They're looking for some of the platform to integrate together."

[Related: Symantec President, COO Michael Fey Out As Part Of Leadership Shuffle]

CIOs are increasingly looking to consolidate on larger platforms capable of handling multiple security functions, according to John Maddison, Fortinet's senior vice president of products and solutions. The integration is particularly appealing for the multiple enterprise accounts where both Fortinet and Symantec overlap, Maddison said.

The integrations will focus on providing a single interface for setting orchestration, policy and reporting procedures across both the Symantec and Fortinet products, Maddison said. Conversations about a deeper partnership began Symantec and Fortinet began in March, Doggart said, and have involved everyone from Symantec's cloud architecture team to Fortinet's senior architects and developers.

"This gives the industry most robust and broad cloud security platform ever," Doggart said. "We've gone above and beyond in this one."

Meanwhile, the integration of Symantec's endpoint protection tools into the Security Fabric will initially focus on visibility, Maddison said, and then move onto remediation and threat intelligence. The two products will be joined together though either APIs or Fortinet Fabric Connectors, he said.

Symantec has more than 120 vendor partnerships, while Fortinet has in excess of 90, according to Doggart and Maddison. But the multiple points of intersection and the tightness of the integration will set the both between Symantec and Fortinet apart from the rest, they said.

In addition, sales rep will be compensated for selling all components of the integrated offering including even the parts belonging to the other vendor. While logo and IP sharing are relatively common in technical partnerships, Doggart said it's very unusual for compensation to also be part of the arrangement.

From a peer standpoint, Doggart said Symantec has no relationship with Palo Alto Networks and has only worked very loosely with Check Point, meaning that the relationship with Fortinet will go far beyond any ties they currently have to competing firewall vendors.

Fortinet, meanwhile, said its integration with Symantec will be much deeper and higher-level than the ties it currently shares with any other endpoint security vendor, Maddison said. The depth of this integration will make Symantec Fortinet's first choice when it comes to which endpoint security vendor to go to market with, he said.

"We want to focus on building the best," Doggart said. "If partners embrace this, they can do extremely well."

The partnership between Symantec and Fortinet should help both sides save money and bring additional new customers into the fold, according to Mark Miller, vice president South Central at Phoenix, Ariz.-based Kudelski Security. The arrangement should help vendors expand their portfolio and cover potential areas of weakness to make sure they don't fall further behind, Miller said.

"I'm sure that both sides are wanting to increase sales, and this gives them a little more visibility in accounts they weren't in before," Miller said. "It'll help broaden their reach."

Customers are increasingly looking to firewall vendors to provide end-to-end security that can be managed from a single pane of glass, according to Marc Harrison, president of Marlboro, N.J.-based solution provider Silicon East. If clients are having a problem, particularly when it comes to malware, Harrison said operating under a single pane of glass can help locate the issue more quickly.

"The people who allow you to manage from one pane of glass are the ones who will be successful," Harrison said. "They're probably feeling competitive pressure to do this."

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