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Key Use Cases for the Fortinet Fabric Management Center

By Satish Veerapuneni

IT organizations use manageability as a key criterion in selecting security infrastructure. That said, the larger an IT network is, the more critical management efficiency becomes. The Fortinet Fabric Management Center, which combines the FortiManager network management solution and the FortiAnalyzer analytics and log management solution, streamlines deployment and administration across even the largest security infrastructure.

Ensuring Operational Efficiency at Scale

The experience of GPS Hospitality is a case in point. The company owns nearly 500 quick-service restaurants across 11 U.S. states—a size it reached in just seven years by growing through acquisitions. To ensure operational efficiency as it scaled up, GPS Hospitality standardized the IT environment across all its restaurants and engaged IT service provider HonorBuilt for IT deployment and support.

GPS Hospitality selected Fortinet solutions to secure its geographically dispersed restaurants, in large part because of the Fabric Management Center. Today, each of the company’s restaurants has two FortiSwitch devices, a FortiGate next-generation firewall (NGFW), two FortiAP access points, and a FortiMail secure email gateway. HonorBuilt manages all these solutions, across the entire restaurant footprint, through a single pane of glass.

“For us, as the service provider, global management is the number-one benefit of using the Fortinet solutions,” says Andy Patterson, senior technology consultant for HonorBuilt. “Before using the FortiManager solution, we had no way of pushing out global updates. Now we can do it in minutes, across all 486 GPS Hospitality locations.” HonorBuilt also uses FortiAnalyzer to gain insights into security events across the GPS Hospitality infrastructure.

Just as important as day-to-day management efficiency is the ease with which the Fortinet solutions can be deployed in new locations. Jim Barlow, director of IT for GPS Hospitality, says the Fabric Management Center makes opening a new restaurant “almost cookie-cutter.” This ease of deployment has enabled GPS Hospitality to grow more than 1,000% in its first seven years.

“Our partnership with HonorBuilt and our use of Fortinet solutions makes it very easy to put our same footprint in every restaurant,” Barlow concludes. “When the technology platform is as standardized as ours, a company can grow very quickly.”

Visibility and Scalability in Preparation for the Future

Batteries Plus Bulbs has a similar story to tell. Its managed security service provider (MSSP), Leeward Business Advisors, is responsible for the company’s security operations center and network operations center, as well as security, network connectivity, and wireless access in each of Batteries Plus Bulbs’ 740 stores.

FortiGate NGFWs secure traffic in each store and provide secure software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) network connectivity. FortiAP wireless access points provide wireless access within each store, and the FortiGate Unified Threat Management (UTM) bundle gives Batteries Plus Bulbs access to advanced malware protection, web filtering, intrusion prevention system (IPS), and application control. All these solutions rely on threat intelligence from FortiGuard Labs and third-party providers within the Fortinet Security Fabric.

LeewardBA and Batteries Plus Bulbs staff use the Fabric Management Center to oversee all these solutions. FortiManager VM and FortiAnalyzer “enable us to provide centralized management from a single pane of glass, detailed reporting, workflow automation, and trends analysis,” says Jason Klein, chief technology officer (CTO) for LeewardBA. “This enables the in-house team to get a complete picture of their security posture at a glance, at any time.”

This level of visibility is a major improvement over the company’s legacy security environment, provided by a different MSSP and solution vendor. “We were often in the dark with our prior solution,” says Michael Lehman, vice president and chief information officer (CIO) for Batteries Plus Bulbs. “Our prior MSSP did not provide us with actionable insights about what risks we faced or what we could do about them.”

Dan Dugan, vice president of IT for Batteries Plus Bulbs, sums up the benefits of the Fabric Management Center: “Now we have security information by glancing at a screen, and we can drill down to any level of detail we need. We can take a more proactive stance in managing security. This gives us confidence that we are equipped to manage security threats for the next five to seven years.”

Financial Services Audits Made Easy

The Illinois State Treasurer does not have as many disparate locations as GPS Hospitality or Batteries Plus Bulbs, but as the state’s banking agency, it manages $32 billion in assets. Effective security is imperative—and in order to provide effective security, the agency’s small IT staff requires operational efficiency. That is a primary reason the Treasurer’s office turned to Fortinet.

The agency deployed FortiGate NGFWs and the FortiSandbox sandboxing solution to protect its infrastructure. The Fortinet Fabric Management Center consolidates information about threat detection and response networkwide, which is essential for securing sensitive data, such as account or routing numbers, and connections with external financial institutions. “Having that single-pane-of-glass visibility makes security management a lot easier,” says Joseph Daniels, CIO for the Illinois State Treasurer.

To comply with a recent information security audit, Daniels pulled the agency’s weekly FortiGate Cloud security reports, which gave him sufficient information to capably meet the audit requirements. Since then, the agency has deployed FortiAnalyzer analytics, which Daniels says “provides a much deeper dive into our network. … I am looking forward to the next audit that we have. We will be much better prepared.”

The Bottom Line for Automated Network Operations

From state agencies to retail businesses, efficiency is a crucial component of the IT security infrastructure. Many businesses face a resource shortage. Even large organizations may not have large security teams, due to the scarcity of skills available in most job markets.

Automation, centralization, and other drivers of efficiency in infrastructure management help ensure that network and security teams of all sizes can effectively secure critical resources, potentially across hundreds (or even thousands) of dispersed locations. FortiGate NGFWs reach this level of manageability because of the single-pane-of-glass visibility in the Fortinet Fabric Management Center.



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