Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access Review

User-friendly, good technical information, very scalable, and centralized management

What is our primary use case?

When our clients integrate FortiSwitches with FortiGate, they can centrally manage their whole network from FortiGate. That's why it's called Secure Access.

The versions of FortiOS that are being used right now are 6.24 and 6.4. These are the two current versions. If we're talking about the models of FortiSwitches, I usually work on 100 to 400 series.

What is most valuable?

It is very user-friendly. There is no need to use command lines to configure it or to do anything in it. You hardly use command lines, which makes it different from Cisco. In Cisco, the CLI is your best friend. 

Fortinet has the lowest TCO, so you can use its integrated components without having to buy additional licenses. They provide centralized management without needing to buy or acquire additional licenses. You have an integral or complete vision through a single pane of glass, and you can see everything from one single console without having to buy additional licenses, which is a plus. It works the same way when you add wireless. You can see everything from FortiGate.

It has a security processor, which is another plus. It does not have a standard desktop processor. It has a multi-threat security processor, and it is built by Fortinet. So, all the components that you include in a Fortinet solution are proprietary and work in an integral way. It has one single solution, whereas other brands, such as Palo Alto and Check Point, have been acquiring certain solutions, and they're not fully integrated. With Fortinet, everything is integrated. If you start building on Fortinet, everything that you expand to the local LAN or WAN is integrated. You don't have to pay for professional services and other things to do that.

Their technical information is also very good. Most of their information is based on how-to, and it can be found online, which is something my clients like.

What needs improvement?

In Fortinet, the packet reconstruction in the SD-WAN solution needs a little bit of improvement. When it comes to the Secure Access to the switches or the mix of Fortinet solution, the very small ones do not have the capability to use fiber cables. So, the small FortiGates have to work with the copper cables and cannot use fiber cables. Even though they have the capacity and throughput on all technical connectors, they don't have the interfaces, which is one of the good things with Cisco. They just add models to it. You buy the independent models, and you add them.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. Our clients are small, medium, and large businesses. Fortinet has been traditionally more into the small and medium sizes, but in the last two years, that has changed. We can see Fortinet switches in corporates and large enterprises, including banks.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good.

How was the initial setup?

It is very easy. The deployment duration depends on the size of the solution. Usually, if clients already have FortiGate and it is a pure Fortinet network, it is very easy with FortiLink, which is the technology that they use. It gets a little bit more complex if we have to migrate from a non-Fortinet network to a Fortinet network and coexist with other brands. It is doable, but it gets a little bit complicated to switch from traditional networking to FortiLink and coexist with traditional networking.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When we talk about Fortinet networking, we compete a lot with Cisco on the high end, such as Cisco Meraki. The biggest benefit with Fortinet is that you can extend the security to the access point and integrate Secure Access. With other vendors, you need to acquire additional licenses, which becomes a cost issue. With Cisco Meraki, the issue is the licenses that you need to maintain.

The management part is also there. In Cisco, you need specialized technical people to support and maintain, whereas Fortinet is very easy to learn if you have basic networking knowledge.

What other advice do I have?

I would 100% recommend it because you can extend the security, and you can optimize the SD-WAN or the traffic at the application level and not only at the traditional VLAN level.

I would rate Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access a nine out of ten.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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