Fortinet finds new opportunities in physical security space

Jan. 30, 2013
Using video platform and unified threat management solutions allows IT vendor to meet needs of retail security customers

As the growing migration from analog to IP technology continues in the physical security world, traditional IT-based companies are expanding their impact in the space. Whether the opportunities are in wireless, video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) and managed video (MVaaS), or they are in situational awareness technology such as PISM and analytics, security end-users are driving solutions that are scalable and help in their internal IT convergence needs and budgets.

Joining this growing number of IT companies that are strengthening portfolios with physical and cyber security solutions is Fortinet, a network security appliance vendor and innovator in unified threat management solutions. Entering into a partnership with Euclid Analytics, the company that developed the Google Analytics product, Fortinet just launched a network tracking and security solution currently focused on retail security but applicable to other verticals.

Like the IT vendors who came before them (Cisco, Extreme Networks and others), Fortinet’s motivation to move into the physical security space is two-fold: first, they obviously want to explore other avenues of revenue, but secondly, they are aiming to expand business in their established core of network infrastructure products. The strategy makes sense — in fact, a recent IT solutions provider’s industry research survey revelaed that "every dollar spent in surveillance…drove another $5 in total network infrastructure sales (switches, routers, firewalls, etc.)."

While Fortinet recently announced six new products at the National Retail Federation conference in New York, showcasing various network security appliances and switches, its next generation unified threat management platform parlayed off its video surveillance solution turned the heads of most loss prevention managers.

"The video side of the business is fairly new for us, but I don’t want to give the impression that it is just a toe in the water," said Ryan Potter, Fortinet’s director of security strategies. "We have developed a pretty nice product. As we move forward and gain more clarity in [the physical security] marketplace, it is inevitable that we will be successful in the retail security environment. By applying our solution to other security services, we will then focus in on other appropriate vertical markets and seek the right partnerships.

"We have dedicated VARs already set in the retail sector so it was a logical move to concentrate our initial efforts there," Potter continued. "But we are now looking at other spaces."

Considering that the value of the world’s physical security equipment market in 2012 was estimated to be somewhere around $20.5 billion— of which video surveillance products accounted for nearly 49 percent of the market share, leading with a video solution figures to be a sound strategy for companies like Fortinet.

Like many loss prevention professionals charged with creating and then deploying their company’s security technology roadmap, the fewer vendors to deal with the better. Having a single point of contact is a prime selling point for any vendor – especially those in the cost-conscience retail industry. "I don’t like the term 'one-stop-shop,' but it works in the retail space," Potter said. "The technology may look sexy to a systems guy, but to the retailer who uses the solution it is all about the value it drives."

Larry Havlik, senior director of information technology and facilities at Hat World/, said he chose Fortinet for both cost and technology considerations: "I choose them for my distributed network because they had a broad range of products covering connectivity and access at the LAN and WAN. We can turn on security within the infrastructure without affecting performance."

Fortinet’s new array of products were developed specifically with the retail client-base in mind, addressing their stringent need to meet PCI regulatory compliance, the growing need for uninterrupted network uptime, and support remote locations with a centralized systems management solution. The ability to penetrate a mature market is the advantage that Potter and other IT technologists point to, with the end-game being a converged solution born from IT roots. Potter sees technology’s value being an interconnected source of retrievable data, where physical video surveillance information and network policy events are closely aligned with other integrated systems along the network.

"A user enters the room and is scanned at the door scan. We then have the ability to monitor them on video with a hand-held device that is connected to a secure access point where we can see and correlate the MAC address and any other client reputation, whether we’ve seen it before or for the first time," Potter explained. "It is about being able to put all that forensic data together."

About the Author

Steve Lasky | Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief/Security Technology Executive

Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes the magazine's Security Technology Executive, Security Business, and Locksmith Ledger International, and the top-rated website He is also the host of the SecurityDNA podcast series.Steve can be reached at [email protected]