Insurer Secures Edges with Fortinet Secure SD-WAN and SD-Branch

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Many IT leaders are recognizing the benefits of breaking down the barriers between network and security operations centers (NOC and SOC, respectively). Especially as teleworking, supply chain integration, and merger and acquisition activities—among other digital innovation initiatives—continue to expand the network infrastructure footprint and bring more networking and security challenges to organizations. In companies that rely on multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), this leads to increasing connectivity costs and bandwidth congestion. Fortinet Secure SD-WAN promises to solve connectivity problems, but many vendor solutions – the ones that don’t offer a converged fabric - can leave companies with management and security challenges in the local area network (LAN), with multiple point products to manage at locations and traffic no longer routed through the corporate data center for inspection. 

Modern businesses can no longer afford to approach these networking and security challenges as separate projects. As one large insurance company recently learned, it is critical to implement a holistic solution, which encompasses security, LAN, and WAN performance—and can be managed as a single system. This approach has implications both for operational efficiency and for total cost of ownership.

Branch Office Security: Why a Holistic Approach is Necessary

The insurance company—a leader in its national market—has thousands of agents and brokers in branch offices across more than 20 cities. As this company sought to update their antiquated equipment across various branches and offices, their key business drivers for the project were:

  • Ensuring a high-quality user experience across all locations
  • Complying with strict regulations for the financial sector 
  • Having a single platform approach that could protect the entire network—from the data center to the WAN edge and LAN edges

Their existing WAN consisted of MPLS links that conveyed unencrypted traffic, mission-critical services, and internet traffic through perimeter firewalls and web application firewalls (WAFs) in the main data center. Security monitoring was provided by a third-party SOC service. The MPLS links were managed by the ISP, while the in-house team managed the branches’ local area network (LAN) access points and switches.

To improve user experience, the insurer’s IT team knew they needed to combine their approach to WAN and LAN for single view of user performance. One key to this was to rearchitect the WAN to give branch users direct internet access and enable better utilization of all the WAN links available. SD-WAN seemed like a perfect fit. They also needed to upgrade the LAN equipment to ensure secure network access to meet compliance requirements. Further, migrating to SD-WAN would require security functionality at the WAN edge to replace the traffic inspection and threat protection functions previously handled in the data center. The team’s other concern was how they were going to manage the SD-WAN, LAN, and security solutions.

Enabling High Performance with Fortinet Secure SD-WAN and SD-Branch 

Fortunately, Fortinet’s Secure SD-Branch solution converges SD-WAN, LAN management, and security functionality into a single device, enabling high performance and advanced security. By using Fortinet Secure SD-Branch—which includes Secure SD-WAN, FortiSwitch and FortiAP—the same security and management leveraged for SD-WAN can be extended to the LAN access layer at every branch. Moreover, Fortinet Fabric Management Center offers single pane of glass management to reduce complexity and improve visibility.

Fortinet’s security-driven networking approach and broad, integrated and automated product portfolio—which addressed each of the key business drivers of this project—was the perfect fit for this insurance company.

The insurer’s SOC provider now acts as an integrated NOC/SOC, leveraging the Fortinet Fabric Management Center (FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer) to configure and monitor all of the deployed solutions. It also uses FortiSIEM security information and event management system to manage threat detection and response. 

The IT team now has end-to-end visibility of its security and network infrastructure. Because of the integrated nature of the Fortinet Security Fabric, the team can ensure that security policies are applied consistently across the WAN and LAN. Moreover, they expect the total cost of ownership of the new solution to be lower than before, even with the technology upgrade.

Learn how Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN Solution uses a security-driven networking approach to improve user experience and simplify operations at the WAN Edge.

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