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Fortinet CEO Ken Xie On Leading The Charge In SD-WAN And Facing Off Against Palo Alto Networks In The Cloud

Michael Novinson

How do customers benefit from Fortinet taking a more horizontal approach to the cloud?

We feel it's important to let customers select what's best for them, because whether it's a different cloud provider or a different application, it may not be equal. Some customers with certain applications may, from time to time, change the [cloud] provider. So if we are able to work with all the cloud providers, then customers can more easily select what's best for them instead of if they [the security provider] is deep with one, the switching cost can be very high. So from the customer's angle, that's the best for them.

How does Palo Alto Networks' acquisition of Demisto affect Fortinet from a competitive standpoint?

We're more working closely with some of our [technology] partners, like a Splunk, which does all of this analysis like FireEye does with sourcing and response. It's pretty interesting—we like we're the best to design the network security, whether it's at the chip level or elsewhere. And there's other companies and other players that that already have a customer base in some other fields For us, the approach is really to more partner together. I think it will be interesting to see, but we do get quite a good response from our partnerships in working together. That's a different strategy from a different company. Palo Alto [Networks] probably more wants to acquire, and get into some other areas. For us, we're more focused on the networking and infrastructure level. At the same time, partnering for other parts of the solution is our approach. There's so much attack surface. There's so much connectivity and infrastructure between 5G and SD-WAN that requires a different approach. It's interesting. We do collect a lot of data, and also we have probably 10X to 20X the number of deployments compared to Palo Alto [Networks]. So we do collect a lot of data. Sometimes we look through parts of the data working with a partner like Splunk to analyze the data, compared to Palo Alto [Networks], who may try to do something themselves. It's just a different approach.

Do you feel like you're at a disadvantage partnering around SOAR rather than owning it yourself?

It's not a disadvantage. We do network security the best. And we believe some other companies also do their part the best. And also sometimes, they already have the customer base. Just like Palo Alto [Networks] acquired an endpoint security company, [Secdo], and we would rather partner with Symantec. So that's a little bit different approach.

 
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