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Fortinet steps into high-end ADC market

One year after acquiring Coyote Point Systems, Fortinet releases its first high-end application delivery controllers for enterprises and MSPs.

Network security vendor Fortinet rounded out its application delivery controller portfolio this week with the addition of three high-end appliances targeted at enterprises and managed service providers.

The three new models -- the FortiADC-1500D, FortiADC-2000D and FortiADC-4000D -- are the latest products to come out of Fortinet's acquisition of load balancing vendor Coyote Point Systems in 2013. With the capability to support up to 50 Gbps of Layer 4 throughput and up to 1.6 million Layer 7 transactions per second, the new appliances mark Fortinet's first foray into the high-performance application delivery controller (ADC) market.

Fortinet's newest ADCs, by the numbers:


  • Throughput: 20 Gbps
  • Volume: Up to 800,000 Layer 7 transactions per second
  • Ports: Eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, four 10 Gigabit SFP+ Ethernet ports
  • SSL offload: Up to 14,500 SSL connections per second


  • Throughput: 30 Gbps
  • Volume: Up to 1.2 million Layer 7 transactions per second
  • Ports: 16 Gigabit Ethernet ports, four 10 Gigabit SFP+ Ethernet ports
  • SSL offload: Up to 31,000 SSL connections per second


  • Throughput: 50 Gbps
  • Volume: Up to 1.6 million Layer 7 transactions per second
  • Ports: 16 Gigabit Ethernet ports, eight 10 Gigabit SFP+ Ethernet ports
  • SSL offload: Up to 31,000 SSL connections per second

The company also announced the next release of its FortiADC operating system, version 4.0, which will now support the subscription-based IP reputation management service that was previously only available on its FortiGate security products. Fortinet extended another FortiGate feature to its ADCs as well: Virtual Domains, which enables a single appliance to be split into a multi-tenant environment for different departments in a large enterprise or, in the case of managed service providers (MSPs), different customers.

Although best known for its firewall and unified threat management products, Fortinet got its start in the ADC market in 2010 when it began selling the FortiBalancer through an OEM agreement with Array Networks; Fortinet will discontinue support for the FortiBalancer this year. It released appliance-based and virtualized "variants" of Coyote Point's ADCs last year -- rebranded as FortiADCs -- which had been marketed to small- and medium-sized businesses, according to Mark Byers, director of product marketing at Fortinet.

The company now wants a bite of the large data center and MSP markets for ADCs, playing up its experience in the application layer through Fortinet's security products.

"We really do see security as a differentiator as more and more attacks are going after applications," Byers said.

Layer 7: The intersection of security and ADCs

Firewalls and ADCs traditionally haven't had much in common, but as more attacks target Layer 7, the two fields are experiencing some overlap.

"Security by itself is pretty complex and is throughout the entire IT infrastructure, whereas application delivery controllers are by definition really focused more on the data center," said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure research at IDC. "But there's definitely some cross pollination happening."

Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research, said this intersection between ADCs and firewalls at the application layer isn't unprecedented and does offer some value.

"Security is changing. It's becoming more a game of analytics than looking for signatures, and more intelligence and more data is good regardless," Kerravala said.

Several load balancer and ADC vendors, F5 being the most notable, took note of this years ago and crossed over into security. But the security vendors that have tried to do the reverse haven't been as successful, Kerravala said.

"It's a tough road to hoe. In many ways, I think it's easier to do what F5 did because the path to building a good high-performance firewall to me isn't as steep as building the very specific application hooks that you would need [in an ADC]," he said. "It's a very unique product, [and] I think sometimes the industry doesn't appreciate how hard it is to build one of these that works at scale."

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They implement the technology into current products or if they release an all new product line the FortiADC-300E, an application delivery