Fortinet Wins Spark NZ in Service Provider Campaign


By: Mary Jander

In the latest win of an ongoing campaign, Fortinet (Nasdaq: FTNT) has announced that New Zealand’s Spark NZ mobile network picked Fortinet products to meet growing enterprise demand for secure remote connectivity.

Fortinet has focused for a while on adding more service providers to its customer list, perceiving a clear need for secure connections in large-scale software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN). Alongside its quarterly earnings in February 2020, for instance, the company announced an agreement with Equinix (Nasdaq: EQIX) to supply that data center services player with secure SD-WAN. And in press releases on April 6 and May 26, Fortinet touted fresh sales to several managed service providers, including Canada's Hydro One, FluidOne in the U.K., and Alestra in Mexico.

Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fortinet sees enterprise and government customers turning even more to service providers for virtual private networks (VPNs) based on SD-WAN and public clouds. Given that Fortinet’s chief source of revenue comes from what it calls “security-driven networking,” the draw to the service providers is irresistible.

Fortinet Credits Security for Wins

Fortinet claims security features based in part on its own ASICs, along with the application programming interfaces (APIs) for customization, have attracted service providers such as Spark NZ away from competitors.

Of course, those rivals, including Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), and Stellar Cyber, to name just a few, make similar claims. It is too soon to tell how market forces will sort out the various options.

Still, this particular win draws attention to Spark's choice of Fortinet over myriad SD-WAN and security suppliers, including Cisco, Nuage Networks (Nokia), VMware (VeloCloud), and Versa Networks. While Fortinet's not displacing any incumbents, the potential is now there for the vendor to shoulder past one or more of them as further opportunities arise.

Fortinet and the Future Mobile Edge

Fortinet says it won the Spark deal in part thanks to a secure SD-WAN rollout to 2,500 sites in New Zealand, including Spark’s retail stores. This deployment could work in Fortinet’s favor in several ways.

When it comes to serving up 5G solutions, for example, Fortinet will be in a good position to tie into edge security and networking. Since 5G has long been considered the next big opportunity for telcos, this advantage could be significant. The possible options are especially interesting considering that Spark is one of the three largest mobile phone companies in New Zealand, with a leading 40% market share in 2019, according to Statista.

But the future of 5G in New Zealand could take awhile to emerge. A rash of arson attacks there has decimated cell towers belonging to Spark and Vodafone, as conspiracy theorists look to destroy what they view as an encroaching evil.

Hopefully, the troubles will be resolved as Fortinet extends its Spark NZ reach.