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

Firewalls have been critical to network security for decades, but as networking has evolved to encompass cloud-based assets, these barriers to unauthorized access have had to evolve. Firewall as a service (FWaaS) allows firewall protection to be delivered as part of an enterprise’s cloud infrastructure.

Below, see how five organizations have benefitted from FWaaS across different industries: construction, healthcare, automotive, food and beverage, and marketing services.

5 FWaaS case studies

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

1. Hagedorn Group

Hagedorn Group specializes in demolition, remediation, disposal, recycling, civil engineering, revitalization, bulk materials, heavy-load logistics, and crane services for a wide range of industries. The company relies on state-of-the-art-technology and must protect highly valuable data assets entrusted to Hagedorn by global organizations.

Hagedorn has been able to safely migrate to Azure using Barracuda’s FWaaS offering while maintaining consistent security protocols.

As Hagedorn has scaled, the company has 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 Microsoft Azure would best serve its current and future needs. Azure would add agility and enhanced security. Hagedorn selected Barracuda as an enterprise-grade, cloud-native FWaaS provider, citing ease of use and flexibility, which are key selling points for a company experiencing rapid growth.

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

Industry: Construction

FWaaS provider: Barracuda Networks

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

2. The Guidance Center

The Guidance Center, in Long Beach, California, is a non-profit organization 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. Just three team members make up the IT department, but these professionals are hypervigilant 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. “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 COVID-19 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 to comply with The Mental Health Services Division of the California Department of Health Care Service requirement to encrypt patient data on both local systems and in transit, it was clear that an upgrade was in order.

Adduru selected Fortinet’s FortiSASE 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.

3. AutoNation

AutoNation is America’s largest auto retailer, serving more than 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, AutoNation’s director of security operations. “We also found a lot of P2P (peer-to-peer) 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 gigabytes per month of P2P file-sharing bandwidth out of the network.

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

4. The Wine Society

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

As the company has grown, IT investment hasn’t kept 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 partnered 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 its distributed employee network.

Rhod Williams, head of IT at The Wine Society, said, “We were more than happy to adopt the IT solutions that Prodec recommended, and have no regrets. 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 its network security approach to a modern, centralized solution that keeps employees connected across remote connections.

5. Signpost

Signpost is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation solution used by contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other home service-related businesses. The software includes features like centralized texting, live chat, email, and social media posting automation. The company was founded in 2010 and has 130 employees across three locations.

Signpost’s employees used VPN technology to connect to the network for several years, but began looking for cloud-based solutions to use alongside its VPN system ahead of a move to relocate the company headquarters from New York City to Denver.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The company concluded that it made more sense to seek out robust cloud-based solutions versus forging ahead with VPN service that was not always reliable and not designed in a way that benefitted remote workers.

Instead of physically relocating its 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. But it no longer made sense when we realized that our new office would be empty because of another wave of COVID,” said Alex Shtilkind, director of IT at Signpost. “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 services

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.

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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