Fortinet develops customized ASIC for its combined SD-WAN, security appliance

The company has always been a believer in developing its own ASICs. (Getty Images)

Fortinet made waves in mid-2018 when it began offering SD-WAN directly to consumers. Fortinet is well known as a security vendor, but when SD-WAN took off like a rocket a couple of years ago, Fortinet got involved with the technology by forming partnerships with pure-play SD-WAN vendors and integrating its security with their SD-WAN offerings.

Then in July 2018, Fortinet struck off on its own, embedding SD-WAN software within its own FortiGate next generation firewall technology. And the company garnered some headlines around the same time when NSS Labs came out with its first SD-WAN report and gave good reviews of Fortinet.

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Today, the company announced an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) as part of its FortiGate 100F Next-Generation Firewall. The appliance is powered by the new ASIC and combines SD-WAN functionalities with advanced security in one device.

Nirav Shah, senior director of network security products at Fortinet, said the company’s founders have always been big believers in building their own ASICs. “We have done it for our next generation firewall, and we have an expertise,” he said. “Now, we built a specific ASIC for security and SD-WAN together.”

Shah said Fortinet has more than 4.4 million FortiGate appliances deployed. And customers can get SD-WAN functionality added to those devices via a software upgrade without a truck roll.

But the new ASIC comes with the latest FortiGate appliance – the FortiGate 100F, which also comes with integrated 10G interfaces to prepare for future expansion without needing another device.

The company says its SD-WAN ASIC delivers fast application identification and steering for more than 5,000 applications. This allows users to avoid delays in accessing their applications as well as providing low latency and accelerating overlay performance.

The ASIC also includes a Wi-Fi controller, and Shah said that’s important because enterprise customers are looking for more control over the local area network (LAN) within branch offices.