Fortinet unveils brand new top of the line firewall for 5G with FortiGate 7121F

Fortinet also rolls out their new FortiExtender 511F-5G for wireless WAN connectivity, which is also aimed at the top of the market.

John Maddison, EVP of Products and CMO at Fortinet

Cybersecurity vendor Fortinet has announced a pair of new top-of-the line solutions. The FortiGate 7121F, a brand new product, is designed to provide the highest-performing security necessary for 5G networks and enterprise Zero Trust Access. Its companion piece, the FortiExtender 511F-5G, provides wireless WAN connectivity for SD-WAN and SASE solutions, and is also targeted at demanding use cases.

“These are both completely new products, created as part of our 5G ecosystem,” said John Maddison, EVP of Products and CMO at Fortinet. “If you think about 5G, it has been around in the consumer mind for years, but what it really brought was potential for business applications. Even 4G was voice and consumer with business added on. 5G promises enterprise things like private networks.”

The new FortiGate 7121F firewall is designed to protect the additional digital attack surface in 5G.

“We don’t provide the 5G infrastructure itself, but we do insert the security into the network,” Maddison said. “We have had previous products inside 5G, but the FortiGate 7121F firewall gives it an added dimension of scale. It is the fastest firewall in the world by some margin. It is also the only one with 400G interfaces, which is required because of each of those interfaces require a different security function.”

It also uses Fortinet’s own security processing unit ASIC, which provides innate advantages as well as addressing supply issues during semiconductor shortages.

“We use some off the shelf chips, but we also manufacture our own, which gives us an advantage over competitors,” Maddison said.

Fortinet’s comparative speed of its firewall to the competition is based on a comparison of its new product with something it calls the Security Compute Rating, which combines and averages the averages of the competitor model that is the closest to the new Fortinet one, in this case, the 7121F firewall. Like all such models, it has a statistical bias created by comparing a brand new product with ones that have already been on the market, but the differential here is still significant, even accounting for this. The 7121F firewall speed, for example, is 1.9 Tbps, compared to the industry average 687Gbps, a 2.8x diffence.  The 7121F provides 1000m concurrent sessions compared to the industry average, 231m, a difference of over 4x. SSL Inspection is provided at a speed of 540 Gbps, compared to the industry average of 28 Gbps, a difference of 19x.

“We are between 2x and 20x faster than the competition,” Maddison stated. “No one else has a next-gen firewall as fast as this or as big as this. This thing can do 500 GB/s of next-gen firewall- not stateful firewall – but next-gen.”

Maddison also emphasized that while the 7121F is designed to support 5G requirements, it can be used elsewhere, and for other use cases like SASE.

“We see a big case for 5G, but can be used in other networks like carrier networks or  MSP networks,” he said.

Maddison noted there is no significant price premium for the new firewall.

“The price per megabit protected is basically the same because of the throughput increase,” he said. “Because of the huge price performance advantage, the competition will discount 80-90% to get close, selling at a loss.”

The other new offering is the FortiExtender 511F-5G Wireless WAN, which provides additional WAN connectivity options to the firewall.

“We have become one of the top vendors now in SD-WAN, and Gartner has us in the leaders’ quadrant,” Maddison said. “With the FortiExtender 511F-5G, we’ve looked at the end-to-end security concept of the 5G network, which starts with connectivity. There’s a lot of data moving inside these networks.” It provides sub-6Ghz 5G connectivity to power SD-WAN and SASE solutions, and enables thin edges with 5G connectivity to FortiSASE for cloud-delivered security and inspection, to bring ultra-fast and safe Wireless WAN connectivity for a diverse set of industries including retail, OT and healthcare.

“This kind of connectivity has become even more important for retail, because connectivity became their business,” Maddison said.

Maddison  also stressed the importance of the two new products all being art of the common Fortinet fabric.

“While these are individual products, they are all part of the fabric, which allows them to be managed, and allows us to apply automation,” he said. “Our 5G extender can talk to the SD-WAN without having to talk to a management console. It’s a true platform you can only build organically, which is a completely different mental model from our major competitors, whose platforms are vased on major acquisitions.

“Our acquisitions are small ones of IP and people,” Maddison continued. “When we acquired ShieldX for example, integrating it into the platform fabric was more important than launching it with new features as a standalone product, in order to bring its microsegmentation into the fabric. We also acquired Panoptia, which does digital experience monitoring. Our strategy is to buy smaller companies that become an integral part of the fabric.”