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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

Do you feel like Palo Alto Networks does that there's a market for a referral-based model in parts of your business?

The service provider partner is our biggest vertical, and we want to keep investing, keep driving, and keep partners doing all of this SaaS. We want to provide better tools, better service, and a better model to support them instead of competing with them. We'd rather partner with them, because each vendor has their own advantage, and each channel or system integrator has what they're good at. So that's where we'll all partner together. It'll be a better model, and just be more focused on what we do best, and then provide better service and support into them.

How is Fortinet positioned competitively in the cloud following Check Point's acquisition of Dome9 and Palo Alto Networks’ purchase of Demisto?

Our approach to the cloud is a more horizontal approach. We do work with pretty much all of the cloud providers. And also, if you look at the cloud functions we provide, we're much broader than Check Point or Palo Alto [Networks]. We offer nine different services in the cloud environment. Not just network security, but also email security, web security and FortiAnalyzer, and FortiManager, and FortiSIEM and sandboxing. So that's where we give customers more choice. They have all the flexibility to select a different application service or a different cloud provider instead of being more vertical and trying to go deep into one. Like Palo Alto [Networks] is probably working more with Google because their CEO and some others all come from that background. The other cloud providers view them as more of a competitor. And Check Point tries to acquire some and also go deep. We would rather take more of a horizontal approach and treat everybody as a partner instead of go deep with one or two.

What opportunity does Palo Alto Networks’ ties with Google create for Fortinet around Microsoft Azure and AWS?

To some extent, Google, Azure and AWS are all competing. For us, we are working with all [of them] together as a partner. [Palo Alto Networks’] CEO and also their president come from [Google], and then even a board member [Sridhar Ramaswamy, formerly Google's senior vice president of ads and commerce]. … If one [security company] is very deep with one of the cloud providers, presumably the other cloud providers will be more close to the rest [of the security companies].

Have you deepened your relationship with Azure and AWS a result of Palo Alto Networks being seen as more Google-focused?

Yeah, that's definitely happening from both sides. From our side as well as from other cloud providers, they see that's the way. Because [Palo Alto Networks is] more of a competitor, so that's making things pretty interesting today, I have to say.

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