Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access Review

A security solution with good technical support

What is our primary use case?

My son owns three healthcare facilities, and two of them are in the same building. That's why I went to VLANs to separate the data to satisfy HIPAA requirements. The other facility is in another town. I'm using them to manage the data and communication through VoIP phones in both locations.

They have a server for the whole practice, and so everybody in the building is operating off that server. When they go to the other facility, they use a VPN and connect to the same server.

What is most valuable?

It works really well, I think the equipment is solid, and the help is great. When I buy equipment, even though I'm buying a service in addition to the equipment to have them help me, it's worth paying for that. The service is amazing, and their marketing department should promote it.

What needs improvement?

I can tell you from personal experience, while the interface is clear for somebody in the IT business, it really isn't clear for a novice. It would also help if they lowered the cost of their service.

Their terminology could be better. The terminology is all IT. It's an IT dictionary, and I believe that there has to be a way to state things in clear, plain old English, and I would like to see more of that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access for about five months.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I would say that it's fantastic. Once you get the handle of how FortiGate is designed, their interface, how they think, that's the part that's scalable. When I shift from the 60 up to something far more sophisticated and faster, I don't have to go through a horrific learning experience. In other words, it's an easy shift, and I think that's the part that's useful. I'm counting on that as this business grows.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would say I get extraordinary service from FortiGate. If I call them up and say, "help," they not only make it happen, but they educate me to the best of their ability and the best of my ability to absorb.

It isn't so much the hardware that I appreciate at this point. It's the service. Amazing service. You have to understand that you're going to get people from Bangladesh, India, and around Asia. You're going to get people helping you on the phone that are from far away, but they really know their stuff, and it's worth the struggle to work through the language barrier. 

Because I'm sure some people will complain about that, but first of all you have to realize you're there to solve a technical problem, so forget all the other stuff. If you can't understand them, you got to stop them and say, "go slowly, speak more clearly." If you can find different words, you have to work the language gap. If you're willing to do that, the payoff is immense. I found that these people who are serving me from these faraway places really know their stuff. I'm willing to pay whatever price for their service. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very straight forward. I didn't really know anything, I just set it up, and it ran. It didn't run as a firewall, and it didn't run as an L3 mode, but it ran.

The implementation and deployment were phased. The first phase was a few minutes. But the reality was that it took about two months, not because of the hardware, but because of issues like my ISP, which is Comcast.

You can't get a static IP from them without using their cable modem. But I learned that you have to put it in pass-through mode and stick your firewall router right behind it, and you're all set. But all that for a novice like myself takes time to understand. 

What about the implementation team?

I implemented Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access by myself. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access isn't cheap. They're about $1000 each or something like that. I had to pay for all these licenses. I paid for them, having no idea what they were going to do, but I got enough of a sense that they were important. 

I have to pay for it annually or yearly. You can buy this equipment in a multitude of ways. You can buy just the hardware, or you can buy the hardware and the licenses. That's how I bought it, but you don't get a discount for that. 

I think the license costs me anywhere between $100 and $300. I can't really remember, but it wasn't so much money that it made me stop and think twice. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I researched brands from Cisco all the way down, and there were some cheaper options than FortiGate. I think I kept on reading reviews that mentioned something about the interface being easy to use. That eventually sold me on FortiGate. 

I really hated how Cisco wasn't clear what their costs were. I'm sure they're technically very competent because the technical papers that come out of Cisco are really great, but in terms of selling, it's almost deceptive, but not FortiGate.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale from one to ten, I would give Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access a nine.

They don't get a 10 because I think there's a way to work around terminology.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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