The companies see this combination of enterprise grade support for both corporate and personal accounts in the same device as a first in the market, fulfilling a need that has grown significantly during the pandemic.
Back in March, security vendor Fortinet and networking vendor Linksys, a subsidiary of Foxconn, announced a strategic alliance between the two companies focused around the management and security of work from home environments. The relationship involved Fortinet making a $75 million investment in Linksys. Today, the companies are jointly announcing their second product from the relationship. Linksys HomeWRK for Business | Secured by Fortinet is an enterprise grade solution to provide secure network connectivity for both corporate and personal needs, in one unit that is optimized for business applications and collaboration tools.
“This is our second offering since the launch of the partnership,” said Harry Dewhirst, Linksys’ CEO. “We launched HomeWRK for education to enable secure learning during school shutdowns back in June.”
The Linksys part of the new solution combines an upgraded mesh system with the latest Wi-Fi 6 tri-band technology.
“The hardware is an adaptation of one of our best selling WiFI 6 mesh systems,” Dewhirst said. “We have upgraded parts of the hardware to do security inspections. It also runs the Fortinet software totally locally, and we had to increase the power of the device to do that. It’s also totally scalable to an unlimited amount, since the security processing for each household is done in the household.
“This was meant to scale across thousands of homes,” said John Maddison, EVP of products and CMO at Fortinet. “It was not designed as a branch solution.”
Linksys HomeWRK for Business | Secured by Fortinet makes it easy to prioritize business applications over consumer ones, so that a key job or work doesn’t get steamrolled by resource-intensive games being played by kids in the home.
“Certain business applications can get preference over other things,” Dewhirst said.
“The business priority comes first, meaning a game will take longer to run,” Maddison added.
This type of joint business-personal solution has not been wildly popular in the past, particularly for PCs, with many employers preferring that the two be managed separately. Maddison said that the pandemic had changed things however.
“Initially, enterprises reacted by making sure people had point protection and had their VPN on, but increasingly they aren’t seeing Work From Home as short term and are looking for a long term solution,” Maddison said. The enterprise security from Fortinet lets enterprise and consumer be managed independent of each other in the same system, while also addressing privacy concerns.”
The resurgence of ransomware has played a key role in this.
“With people working from home, it greatly expands the attack surface, where once things were airgapped,” Maddison noted. “I’m not saying that ransomware is the only vector here, but it is a large component of it.”
While Linksys’ traditional customer base is SMB – more the S than the M – and Fortinet is more enterprise and midmarket, although they have SMB customers, both Linksys and Fortinet channel partners will have access to Linksys HomeWRK for Business | Secured by Fortinet.
“This is being taken to market by both companies,” Dewhirst said. “The market is anything from very large enterprise enterprises down to SMBs. It offers ways to control and manage the device in a simpler manner for SMBs, or use the full set of tools if you are a Fortune 500.”
“While we expect this to sell into all markets, Fortinet will come in with the larger deals, Maddison added.
The solution will be available in the US in October 2021 and globally later this year. It will be sold as a hardware-as-a-service subscription plan including licenses that requires no upfront investment. Two levels of service will be available. Standard includes two nodes with standard Fortinet security, and Advanced includes two nodes with advanced Fortinet security.
“We haven’t announced pricing,” Dewhirst said. “We will do that in the coming weeks closer to availability. However, the pricing model is approachable for companies both large and small, so that 100 person firms will be able to afford the price.”