5 Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) Case Studies

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Firewalls have long been critical to network security, but as networking has evolved to encompass cloud-based assets, the barriers to unauthorized access have had to evolve. Firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) offerings allow firewall protection to be delivered as part of a company’s cloud infrastructure.

See below how five organizations in different industries have benefited from using FWaaS solutions:

5 FWaaS case studies

  1. Hagedorn Group
  2. The Guidance Center
  3. AutoNation
  4. The Wine Society
  5. Signpost

1. Hagedorn Group

Hagedorn Group in Germany specializes in demolition, remediation, and recycling for a wide range of industries. The company relies on modern technology and must protect valuable data assets entrusted to Hagedorn by global organizations.

Hagedorn securely migrated to Microsoft Azure using Barracuda’s FWaaS offering while maintaining consistent security protocols.

As Hagedorn scaled, the company acquired new companies at a rapid rate and needed IT support that could keep up across far-flung locations.

Ultimately, Hagedorn’s business unit concluded that centralizing services under Azure would best serve their current and future needs, adding agility and enhanced security. Hagedorn also selected Barracuda as an enterprise cloud-native FWaaS provider, citing ease of use and flexibility, including with Azure.

“Barracuda CloudGen WAN was the only cloud-native FWaaS that provided all the enterprise security levels we needed and even included SD-WAN for uninterrupted connectivity and reliable application access to Azure,” said Hans Redlich, IT lead, Hagedorn.

Industry: Construction

FWaaS provider: Barracuda Networks

Use case: Hagedorn securely migrated to Azure with Barracuda’s FWaaS, keeping security protocols across all locations streamlined and centralized

See more: 5 Top Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) Trends

2. The Guidance Center

The Guidance Center in Long Beach, California is a nonprofit founded by public school teachers and counselors that connects mental health services to disadvantaged children in the local community.

While The Guidance Center works on behalf of thousands of children and families, running the network infrastructure behind the scenes is a small IT team that’s vigilant about protecting patient data.

“If our data were compromised, that would have a significant impact on our clients and our reputation, said Ian Adduru, IT director, The Guidance Center.

“We must do whatever it takes to protect the data we collect. They come to us for help, and it is our responsibility to protect them.”

When the pandemic began impacting how employees needed to access sensitive data, The Guidance Center took a hard look at how well it was able to protect remotely accessed assets. After fears about encrypted data being sent over Wi-Fi emerged, the organization required employees to connect via Ethernet. This kept data protected behind the on-site firewall, but it was not a viable permanent solution.

To protect patient data and comply with The Mental Health Services Division of the California Department of Health Care Services requirement to encrypt patient data on both local systems and in transit, it was clear that an upgrade was in order.

The Guidance Center selected Fortinet’s FortiSASE FWaaS product to achieve these goals.

“Fortinet truly encrypts data, and users cannot bypass it to establish unsecure Wi-Fi connections,” Adduru said.

“FortiClient establishes a VPN connection from the user’s device to the FortiSASE network, which maintains and enforces security as it moves through the internet. Our testing revealed that with FortiSASE, we could confidently answer yes when the Department of Mental Health asks whether our data is encrypted in transmission.”

Industry: Health care

FWaaS provider: Fortinet

Use case: The Guidance Center kept patient health data secure when employees went remote during the pandemic by using Fortinet’s FortiSASE FWaaS

See more: Firewall as a Service (FWaaS): The Future of Network Firewalls?

3. AutoNation

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based AutoNation is one of the country’s largest auto retailers, serving over 10 million customers since it was founded in 1996 through 360 new and used car franchises. The company employs more than 26,000 employees.

As a rapidly expanding organization, AutoNation needed to upgrade network security across several widely distributed locations while keeping network security controls and monitoring centralized.

Zscaler’s cloud-based FWaaS was a key piece of the solution, especially as it related to issues the company was experiencing with botnet traffic from infections.

“We were able to clean those up quickly, because we were able to identify all the infected workstations,” said Jeff Johnson, director of security operations, AutoNation.

“We also found a lot of P2P traffic going in and out of our network to clients we weren’t familiar with. We were able to use Zscaler’s full packet inspection firewall to turn off that P2P traffic, so we could stop BitTorrent and other P2P file sharing services.”

Ultimately, Johnson said, the company was able to cut around 500 GB per month of P2P file-sharing bandwidth out of the network.

“The next-gen firewall capabilities are actually a core requirement,” Johnson said.

“It was one of the primary considerations in selecting Zscaler. We hadn’t found [this capability] in any of the other cloud services that actually had a full protocol next-gen capability.”

Industry: Automotive

FWaaS provider: Zscaler

Use case: AutoNation improved network security and reduced botnet-induced P2P file-sharing bandwidth with Zscaler’s FWaaS

See more: Zscaler vs. CrowdStrike: Top FWaaS Provider Comparison

4. The Wine Society

The Wine Society in the U.K. is a wine subscription service serving 145,000 members who subscribe to monthly shipments of curated wine selections.

As the company grew, it was a challenge for IT investment to keep up with network security needs, including cloud-based networking vital to operations. Platforms and systems were difficult to maintain and decentralized, resulting in an inconsistent application of security protocols across multiple locations and remotely connected employees.

The Wine Society worked with Prodec to improve network security across the board, including an FWaaS solution, which enhanced the company’s security perimeter end to end and across their distributed employee network.

“We were more than happy to adopt the IT solutions that Prodec recommended and have no regrets,” said Rhod Williams, head of IT, The Wine Society.

“These technologies have made life so much easier and ensured The Wine Society can face the future with confidence.”

Industry: Food and beverage

FWaaS provider: Prodec Networks

Use case: Prodec’s FWaaS helped The Wine Society upgrade their network security approach to a modern, centralized solution that keeps employees connected across remote connections

See more: Why is Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) Important?

5. Signpost

New York-based Signpost is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation solution used by contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other home service businesses. The company has 130 employees across three locations.

Signpost’s software includes features like centralized texting, live chat, email, and social media automation. 

Employees of Signpost used VPN technology to connect to the network for several years. However, the company began looking for cloud-based solutions to use alongside their VPN system ahead of a move to relocate the company headquarters from New York to Denver.

Then the pandemic hit. The company concluded that it made more sense to seek out broad cloud-based solutions versus forging ahead with VPN service that was not always reliable and not designed in a way that benefited remote workers.

Instead of physically relocating their headquarters, the company leaned into cloud-based networking, signing on with Perimeter 81 for cloud-based solutions, including FWaaS.

“Our CEO lives in Denver, so it seemed only natural that our headquarters would be there,” said Alex Shtilkind, director of IT, Signpost.

“But it no longer made sense when we realized that our new office would be empty because of another wave of COVID. Perimeter 81 had already given us the flexibility to become hybrid, and we just took it to the next level by becoming 100% remote. As a result, we saved both moving costs and millions of dollars annually in rent. It was a fantastic business decision that would have been impossible with our legacy VPN.”

Industry: Marketing

FWaaS provider: Perimeter 81

Use case: Signpost needed a cloud-based networking solution that included strong, centralized network security controls; Perimeter 81’s FWaaS was an important part of the solution

See more: Top 6 Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) Providers

Bottom Line

These case studies show examples of firewall as a service being used in various industries: construction; health care; automotive; food and beverage; and marketing.

Clients selected a range of providers in the FWaaS market for the implementations: Barracuda Networks; Fortinet; Zscaler; Prodec Networks; and Perimeter 81.

Together, the organizations’ used FWaaS solutions in several key ways to improve their networks:

  • Secure cloud migration
  • Protect personally identifiable information (PII)
  • Reduce botnet-induced file-sharing bandwidth
  • Centralize network security
  • Establish cloud-based controls
Sarah Hunt
Sarah Hunt
Sarah Bricker Hunt covers wide-ranging topics for various audiences, including tech-focused features on data privacy, telecom, corporate and consumer technology trends, and more. Hunt's work is frequently featured in print publications, B2B and B2C trade journals, and numerous high-profile websites.

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