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For us, consolidation, convergence, and operational efficiency are the primary pillars driving digital platform development in cybersecurity: Vishak Raman, Fortinet

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In a recent interview with Express Computer, Vishak Raman, Vice President of Sales for India, SAARC, SEA & ANZ at Fortinet, provided insights into the current state of the company’s business, highlighting its growth trajectory and recent developments. As a prominent figure within the cybersecurity industry, Raman delved into customer success stories and discussed the evolving ecosystem in the cybersecurity market.

Some excerpts from the interview:

We’d like to gain insights into the current state of your business in terms of growth and any new developments. Could you kindly provide an overview?

We consider ourselves a leading cyber engineering company within the highly fragmented cybersecurity market. Currently valued at $125 billion, this market is projected to reach $200 billion by 2026. Its fragmentation is evident across various sectors such as network security, cloud security, identity, and endpoint security. The evolution of cybersecurity is intertwined with the proliferation of digitalisation, connecting devices, users, and infrastructure. As businesses increasingly rely on applications for acceleration, securing these applications across networks, users, and devices becomes paramount. This shift has prompted a move towards platform-based approaches, converging network and security functionalities into secure networking solutions.

Consolidation is key, with a focus on integrating separate point products to simplify security operations and provide a unified view of security. Operational efficiency in security operations is also a significant driver, necessitating automated and streamlined processes. Over the past few years, we’ve observed a transition from network-centric security to application and cloud security in a hybrid environment. This hybrid landscape requires adaptable solutions, including hybrid mesh firewalls and containerised versions, to address security across networks, clouds, and containers. For us, consolidation, convergence, and operational efficiency are the primary pillars driving digital platform development in cybersecurity.

Can you highlight any specific growth areas within the ecosystem that have experienced a significant increase in demand?

The $200 billion cybersecurity market is segmented into various sectors, with secure networking accounting for approximately $68 billion, security operations at roughly $48 billion, and secure access service edge (SASE) amounting to around $21 billion. These three areas represent significant growth opportunities for both partners and businesses alike. As we advocate for these sectors in the market, we anticipate continued growth and collaboration with our channel partners, customers, and stakeholders.

Fortinet is currently positioned as a $5.3 billion revenue company with total billings around $6.5 billion. Over the years, the company has demonstrated significant growth from its initial $30 million revenue mark. Contrary to the perception of focusing solely on mid-market and SMB segments, Fortinet has successfully penetrated the enterprise space, securing deals exceeding $10 million, with 13 such deals recorded.

In terms of product offerings, Fortinet is strategically aligning itself with market trends and demands. Secure networking, which encompasses next-generation firewalling, switches, and access points, forms a significant component of its portfolio. Additionally, the company is heavily invested in Universal SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), integrating SD-WAN capabilities and comprehensive security measures across diverse cloud environments. Furthermore, Fortinet emphasises AI-driven security operations, boasting platforms like our FortiSIEM solution, EDR, and MDR.

As Fortinet charts its course forward, it continues to build robust platforms across these three key areas. With projections indicating a $200 billion market opportunity, the company is strategically positioning its offerings to cater to the evolving needs of partners and customers. Partners can choose to engage with Fortinet across secure networking, unified SASE, or security operations, capitalising on the vast market potential across these segments.

What are the key components of your revenue stream, and how much do services contribute to it?

Services play a significant role in our revenue stream, contributing approximately $930 million. Our service offerings encompass a range of components, including device feeds, threat analytics, and professional services. These services are delivered to customers as part of our comprehensive service package. Additionally, we provide advanced services like NPS to further enhance our service portfolio.

This is where partners can also generate revenue for Fortinet. And more & more Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) would come into play here, right?

Correct. And, we have made significant strides in the industry, earning recognition in prestigious evaluations like the Gartner Magic Quadrant, where we are positioned as a market leader. Our journey from a modest startup to a widely adopted company is evident, with approximately 76% of Fortune 500 companies embracing our solutions.

Our focus on cybersecurity involves streamlining our products to enhance the time it takes to detect and remediate threats. By ensuring that our products seamlessly communicate with each other, we are simplifying security operations. This integration allows for shared threat intelligence and facilitates a quicker transition from threat detection to remediation, resulting in more efficient security protocols compared to traditional methods.

How are you ensuring that partners have the necessary skills and capabilities, particularly as security operations become increasingly crucial? Are there any new training programs or initiatives in place?

Fortinet offers the Fortinet Engagement Partner Program, which specialises in cloud security operations (SEC ops). This program distinguishes partners with expertise in various areas such as SEC ops. Fortinet has introduced a new product called FortiAdvisor, powered by generative AI, leveraging the threat intelligence gathered over the last decade from its global network of 10 million sensors. This threat intelligence benefits customers by enhancing threat analytics through AI modelling. By applying threat detections across different vectors such as email security, endpoint security, and DNS security, Fortinet ensures a unified framework for threat mitigation. The integration of AI algorithms into security orchestration tools allows for automated threat detection and response, contributing to a more robust security ecosystem.

We deploy our systems in a manner that enables automated response to potential threats such as ransomware. By analysing the characteristics of ransomware and large data exfiltration, our systems can identify suspicious activities and take proactive measures to mitigate them. For instance, if a machine shows signs of ransomware behaviour, our systems can automatically terminate the connection associated with it. This automation streamlines the response process, enhancing the overall security posture.

To clarify, with genAI, can playbooks be automated and generated dynamically? With a more generic approach, could different templates be delivered using this concept?

The modelling and workflow processes are automated to streamline operations. However, the ultimate decision-making authority regarding policy application remains with human analysts. While automation handles tasks such as forensic analysis and identifying patterns of threats like ransomware, the decision to implement a specific policy or patch is made by the security operations centre (SOC) analyst. This approach maintains human oversight while automating routine tasks, ensuring that critical decisions are made with human judgement and expertise.

Could you provide some examples of how GenAI has made a difference for customers?

In a hypothetical scenario involving a banking project in Malaysia, suppose a ransomware threat is detected, and it’s suspected to originate from a specific group targeting the banking sector, we can leverage generative AI techniques. Organisations can then analyse historical data to identify similar threats and their corresponding remediation strategies. By referencing previous instances of similar threats, organisations can streamline their response processes and optimise security measures, such as firewall rule sets. With a wealth of knowledge derived from past incidents, organisations can effectively mitigate emerging threats and enhance their overall cybersecurity posture.

Has there been a significant increase in demand from customers for GenAI products in security?

The focus lies primarily on streamlining tasks related to monitoring, logging, and forensic analysis within cybersecurity operations. The aim is to automate routine tasks typically handled by level one and level two analysts, thus freeing up their time for more critical decision-making. However, the final decision-making authority regarding actions like applying patches or implementing security measures remains with higher-level analysts, such as those at level three. This ensures that human expertise and judgement are still integral to the security operations process, especially when it comes to determining the appropriate response to identified threats or vulnerabilities.

The Security Operations Centre (SOC) serves as an ideal environment for the implementation of AI solutions due to the influx of diverse data feeds. AI technology excels in normalising this data efficiently, a task that can be cumbersome for human analysts. With AI in place, the SOC can effectively prioritise alerts from various sources such as email, DNS, and endpoints, enabling analysts to focus their attention on investigating the most critical alerts promptly. This streamlined approach enhances operational efficiency within the SOC, ensuring that resources are allocated effectively to address potential threats and vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

What factors drive partner migration to your platform, and what are notable success stories showcasing its versatility and effectiveness?

Many of our partners have made the strategic decision to transition from legacy systems to our platform, attracted by its versatility and next-generation features. Our platform integrates cutting-edge AI-based solutions that significantly enhance operational efficiency, reducing costs at both level one and level two. This is especially crucial for securing large, mission-critical setups across the country. Several notable examples include complexes and boom vision, with Champion among our satisfied clients who can provide glowing references. Our platform is trusted by organisations across industries. For instance, in the banking sector, we’ve made remarkable strides, replacing outdated monolithic routers with modern, secure SDN solutions for core banking operations. The adoption of our platform has seen remarkable growth in recent years, reflecting its undeniable value and effectiveness.

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