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Q&A: Fortinet CEO Xie On Why The Company Will Beat Cisco, Palo Alto Networks And Check Point As The Network Security Market Evolves

In an interview with CRN, Fortinet CEO Ken Xie said the network security market is entering its fourth generation and Fortinet will need the channel to get a leg up on the competition.

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Walk us quickly through the evolution of Fortinet as a company.

Fortinet is my third network security company… The first company we all used the software to do the firewall. My second company [Netscreen] I felt we needed to do better, so I started using not only the software but also complementing it with dedicated hardware, including the dedicated system and dedicated chip. Both companies only did firewall VPN – that's what we called the first-generation of network security, called connection security... We saw the opportunity to IPO the company and later sold it to Juniper for $4 billion…

Then, I started Fortinet in the end of 2000. It was what I call second-generation network security, because second generation models content and applications. The company was initially called App Secure – for application security. When we launched the product in 2002, we called it an anti-virus firewall… That's where basically we found most of our malware comes from permitted connections, so basically the firewall cannot stop the virus, so we have to look inside the connection for the bad content. That's the second generation… Then about two years ago we started preparing for the launch of the third generation of network security. Instead of just looking inside the connection, now we need to do the whole infrastructure.

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