Hughes melds WAN accelerator, Fortinet security in new gateway

Hughes Network Services rolls out branch gateway device that envelops WAN optimization and Fortinet security software.

Hughes Networks Systems LLC is releasing a new gateway -- beefed up with fully featured security software -- aimed at retailers and branch offices.

The HR4700 Branch Gateway integrates Fortinet Inc.'s FortiGate 60D security platform with Hughes' suite of WAN acceleration and optimization services, said Doug Medina, senior director of enterprise marketing at Germantown, Md.-based Hughes.

Hughes has offered security to its managed services customers in the past, but those implementations required separate devices; this is the first Hughes gateway that encompasses a WAN accelerator, security and other networking capabilities in a single device, Medina said. As with its other customer-premises devices, Hughes provides management and maintenance of the gateway.

"Hughes has come in with WAN optimization, and now with Fortinet they can ship their devices as managed devices [at an attractive price]," said Current Analysis Research Director Brian Washburn. "The WAN optimization will improve performance on all types of broadband, which will make it more than just a best-effort service; [customers] can play with the pipes and can juggle things to make sure primary apps get through."

The HR4700 is also the first customer-premises device marketed under the vendor's HughesON Managed Network Services umbrella. HughesON, introduced in late April, is a suite of networking services that includes WAN optimization, Quality of Service, data compression, routing and application performance.

Medina said FortiGate 60D -- which spans next-generation firewall, intrusion prevention services, VPN anti-malware and other threat mitigation features -- will appeal to Hughes' mix of retail customers that handle millions of credit card transactions each year.

"Security is job No. 1, especially for retailers and enterprises with a lot of wireless mobile devices," Medina said.

In addition to bolstering Hughes' offering to existing customers, the HR4700 reflects the company's ongoing effort to make its managed services portfolio more attractive to enterprise users, said Sampath Ramaswami, Hughes' senior director of strategic planning, North American Enterprise Division. "We will market this to retailers, but this gateway will also allow us to branch out. We are looking to expand our market." Currently, Hughes has more than 290,000 sites under management, spanning gas stations, convenience stores, drug stores and hotels.

Current Analysis' Washburn said broadening the market makes sense for Hughes. "They've incorporated great functionality at a low cost and [the integrated gateway] can do great things for clients that know them. But there is a bigger universe that can be addressed," he said.

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