INTERVIEW: Maya Zakhour, Fortinet
by Stuart Wilson, Thursday 8 December 2016
Maya Zakhour, channel director Middle East at Fortinet, gives her perspective on how an integrated security architecture like Fortinet’s Security Fabric creates new opportunities for solution providers.
Channel EMEA (CE): Why is the idea of a security fabric so important to network security in this current environment?
Maya Zakhour (MZ): These days, companies have to deal with a growing list of issues that put tremendous strain on their security capabilities, including the Internet of Things (IoT), virtualisation, SDN, a growing portfolio of interactive applications, and transitioning to cloud-based networking. They also have employees who expect to be able to access work applications and data from anywhere, at any time, and on the same device they use to manage their personal lives. Networks have evolved to accommodate these new requirements, becoming more complex, flexible, and powerful. At the same time, securing them has become a lot more complicated as well.
Organisations can’t just keep adding new, siloed security solutions that don’t talk to other devices on their network, and that require separate management and collaboration tools. In many cases, this inability to share threat intelligence or synchronise a response to threats is actually making response times slower. What organisations need today is a collaborative system of tools that work together to monitor their network, share information, and respond to threats no matter where they occur.
Fortinet has always been known for our powerful security appliances. And now, the Fortinet Security Fabric allows us to take all of those tools and integrate them into a single, interactive security framework. This collaborative ecosystem not only integvrates Fortinet’s own extensive portfolio of security and networking technology together, but also includes third-party partners in cloud, software-defined networking, sandboxing, testing, security information and event management (SIEM), and Single Sign On technologies, as well as support for the services provided by our worldwide family of channel partners.
CE: How does Fortinet’s Security Fabric benefit Fortinet’s global partner network of distributors and solution providers?
MZ: Because of its critical and complex nature, security continues to be one of the largest opportunities for the channel. Partners that can plan, design, deploy, and optimise an integrated security offering are finding a growing demand for their skills. By tying traditional security appliances and emerging technologies together into an integrated security fabric, partners can help their customers collect and respond to more actionable intelligence, synchronise threat responses, and centralise the creation, distribution, and orchestration of their security management and analysis. This broad visibility and open-standards approach provided by the Fortinet Security Fabric allows solution providers to implement more automation to focus on the alerts that really matter.
The Fortinet Security Fabric and the Fabric Ready Partner Programme is really resonating with our partners and we have been receiving very positive feedback from both our partners and their customers on a daily basis. They feel that this new integrated technology approach allows partners to really give their customers a better experience. The Security Fabric has truly begun to drive long-needed innovation in network security, and is redefining how partners and customers look at network security.
Partner and customer feedback is also driving wider industry accolades, and recognition of Fortinet and the Fortinet Security Fabric as delivering the best security products on the market. Which in turn is opening up more doors for partners to deliver those Security Fabric attributes that reduce complexity and provide new benefits for both the channel and their customers. The Fortinet Security Fabric and Fabric Ready Partner programme also make it easier to architect advanced security offerings, compress sales cycles, shorten deployment times, and help organizations reduce operational expenses.
CE: What distinguishes Fortinet’s security fabric approach from other vendors’ attempts at an integrated platform?
MZ: Fortinet distinguishes itself with intentionally designed integration beginning with a unified operating system, highly optimized hardware and software processing, unmatched zero-day discovery, and a detection approach that combines behavioral detection, machine learning, and hardware virtualisation. This allows the Fortinet Security Fabric to go beyond what’s possible with a traditional signature-based approach to threat protection, or with siloed security technologies that vendors have begun to superficially stitch together using an overlay “platform” approach.
Additionally, Fortinet is committed to a collaborative and interactive community of security solutions that reaches across the entire security industry. It’s why we have more than 200 threat-sharing agreements and continue to be an active member of the Cyber Threat Alliance. It’s also why we have also developed a robust partner alliance program that integrates leading security technology vendors together to help address today’s most complex threat challenges.
CE: How does the Security Fabric benefit companies that have already invested a great deal of money and resources into security solutions?
MZ: Most organisations have already deployed a variety of security devices, often from many different vendors. Transitioning to a truly integrated security fabric based on open standards allows solution providers to maximise their client’s existing investments in security technologies. By pulling all of these tools together they can enable game-changing integration, synchronisation, and automation.
Fortinet’s well-defined, open API approach allows technology partners to become part of the Fortinet Security Fabric at critical interaction points, including at the hypervisor, the SDN orchestration controller, in the cloud, in the sandbox to detect day-zero threats, at key connection points between network segments, and through holistic logging and policy management. And integration goes beyond simply allowing third-party solutions to collect or redirect data and traffic. Alliance solutions that integrate with the Fortinet Security Fabric are able to actively collect and share threat information and mitigation instructions in order to improve threat intelligence, enhance overall threat awareness, and broaden threat response from end to end. It’s really unprecedented in the industry.
CE: How is Fortinet’s Fabric Ready Partner programmes different from the partner programmes we see other vendors promoting?
MZ: Like many partner programmes, Fortinet’s Fabric Ready Partner Programme brings together best-in-class technology alliance partners. But unlike those other approaches, Fortinet’s approach actually allows these partners to deliver pre-integrated, end-to-end security offerings ready for deployment.
Fabric-Ready partners are a key part of the Fortinet Security Fabric, enabling Fortinet and partner products to collaboratively integrate to provide true end-to-end security. Alliance solutions that have been integrated with the Fortinet Security Fabric are able to actively collect and share threat and mitigation information to improve threat intelligence, enhance overall threat awareness, and broaden threat response across the entire distributed network.
Customers especially benefit from these joint solutions and applications as they are pre-integrated, saving them time and resources in deployment, operations, and ongoing management and support.
And for our channel partners, extending the functionality and intelligence of the Fortinet Security Fabric vision with an open and cooperative ecosystem of partner solutions means they can more easily bundle, sell, and deploy solution sets without the burden of significant costs and resources usually required for validating technology integration when delivering multi-product, multi-vendor solutions to customers. Provide customers with solutions that have faster time-to-deployment, coupled with reduced operational expenses and technical support costs.
New SMB Channels event
SMB Channels Middle East, organised by DISTREE Events, will launch in Dubai in May 2017. The new two-day event will bring together 300 executives from the region’s leading resellers of IT solutions focused on serving small and medium businesses (SMBs). More than 60 vendors and value-added distributors (VADs) are set to showcase their solutions and services in the main exhibition area at SMB Channels Middle East.