Communications service providers’ (CSPs) branch locations need access to fast, reliable, and scalable network connectivity. Frequently, retail locations must perform troubleshooting and repairs for their customers, which requires them to have rapid access to customer data and the ability to perform diagnostic tests that need a stable, reliable network connection.

Deploying this connectivity via traditional multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) lines is an expensive and inflexible solution. In comparison, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) provides the reliability guarantees of MPLS but operates over a broadband connection. By optimizing usage of multiple transport media, SD-WAN offers faster connection speeds with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Optimization of the network infrastructure improves network performance and decreases load at the enterprise data center, increasing operational efficiency. This enables CSPs to meet their service-level agreements (SLAs) while minimizing operational expenditure (OpEx).

One consideration when deploying SD-WAN is that it requires additional security provisions. In order to make full use of SD-WAN’s capabilities, it is necessary to deploy security at the network edge that results in multiple point products. That is unnecessary with Fortinet Secure SD-WAN, an SD-WAN solution that is unlike other solutions on the market, which offers an all-in-one solution for SD-WAN that includes robust SD-WAN threat protection. The built-in next-generation firewall (NGFW) provides security controls for Layer 3 through Layer 7 and industry-leading performance in an appliance with the industry’s first purpose-built SD-WAN application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip. The Fortinet Secure SD-WAN appliance also includes an integrated intrusion prevention system (IPS), providing full traffic inspection at the branch location. This enables traffic to be routed directly to its destination, improving network performance, especially of cloud-bound traffic, without sacrificing security.

Fortinet Secure SD-Branch lays the groundwork for extending branch location security with Fortinet SD-Branch. Fortinet SD-Branch centralizes visibility and management of security infrastructure at branch locations from the internet down to the switching layer. This increases the efficiency of security operations, simplifies security control enforcement and data collection for compliance activities, and improves visibility and security of the enterprise WAN. This enables CSPs to decrease overhead and optimize OpEx. Part of Fortinet SD-Branch, FortiAP wireless access points provide high-performance, secure network connectivity for business and guest networks, while FortiNAC provides automated identification and access control for all devices connecting to the network.

With the reliable and secure network connectivity provided by Fortinet Secure SD-WAN, branch locations can also deploy Voice over IP (VoIP) in place of a separate phone service without concerns about bandwidth consumption, availability, or quality of experience. Here, FortiVoice offers an easily configured and flexible VoIP solution that can be isolated from other business and public Wi-Fi networks using the switching and access control capabilities built into Fortinet SD-Branch. To ensure connectivity in the event of a network outage, FortiExtender offers a 3G/4G/LTE/5G backup solution.