Fortinet boots branch UTM firewall up to 1 Gbps

There’s no doubt that network traffic is increasing at a prodigious pace not only for enterprises’ head offices but also at their branches.

That’s why Fortinet Inc.  kicked up the firewall throughput of their new FortiGate and FortiWiFi 60C series unified threat management appliances to 1 Gigabit per second from 100 Mpbs in the previous 60B series.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company is able to do it with a new “system on a chip” ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) combined with a CPU. The combo also moderately increases IPSEC performance to 70 Mbps from 64 Mpbs.

“Gigabit firewall performance may seem like overkill for a branch office,” said Chris Simmons,Fortinet’s director of product strategy, “but we’re seeing need within the enterprise space for a small amount of zoned traffic — perhaps for a voice server, a regional email server or a file server.”

The increased performance will allow customers to segment traffic within the local area network and apply security zones, he said.

The 60C chip leverages the company’s FortiASIC technology to bring gigabit speeds to what Simons says is a very price-conscious and competitive section of the market.

Competitors include McAfee Inc., CheckPoint Software Technologies, SonicWall Inc., WatchGuard Technologies and others.

“It’s a nice enhancement to their existing products,” said Andrew Braunberg, research director for business technology at Current Analysis. While Fortinet says the 60Cs could be used by small and medium businesses, he thinks branch offices will likely be the ones that would really take advantage of the performance increase.

Fortinet didn’t only increase the speed of the upgraded appliances. Both 60C models now include a slot for a Class 6 SDCH memory card for local logging and data storage. Fortinet includes a 4 Gb card with every box, but if network administrators slip in a 16 Gb card they can use the FortiOS WAN optimization and Web caching features.

In addition, both 60Cs have an ExpressCard slot for a 3G wireless modem, up from a PC Card slot in the 60Bs. The link lets organizations use wireless for a primary network connection or for backup. Simons said 3G functionality is aimed at retail or hospitality chains with large national deployments that want to sign a national rather than regional wireless provider.

Finally, to make configuration easy a laptop can be plugged into a USB slot in the back of the 60Cs that will automatically launch a Windows 7/Vista/XP client for setup.

The WiFi version of the appliance can support up to seven virtual access points and is aimed at retailers who have a number of wireless point of sale units within one store, or organizations who want to set up separate WiFi zones for groups.

The FortiGate 60C alone sells for US$595, or US$895 with software that includes antivirus, antispyware, intrusion prevention, Web filtering application control and WAN optimization.

The FortiWiFi 60C sells for US$695 alone or US$995 with software.

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