Alain Penel, Vice President for the Middle East, Turkey, and CIS at Fortinet

Riyadh "Riyadh Daily"
#Fortinet Leads Saudi Arabia's Cybersecurity Transformation

In an exclusive interview with Riyadh Daily, Alain Penel, Vice President for the Middle East, Turkey, and CIS at Fortinet, delves into Fortinet's pivotal role in Saudi Arabia, groundbreaking cybersecurity initiatives, and unwavering commitment to bolstering the kingdom's digital transformation.

Penel opens the discussion by highlighting Fortinet's impressive decade-long growth in the Middle East, Turkey, and CIS regions. He places particular emphasis on the pivotal role of Saudi Arabia in their strategic market approach. Penel unveils Fortinet's strategic shift towards a platform approach, known as the Fortinet Security Fabric, aiming to streamline the intricacies of the cybersecurity landscape. This innovative approach presents a comprehensive ecosystem for managing Fortinet's extensive portfolio, with Penel citing Gartner's report indicating a potential 90% reduction in financial losses from cyber-attacks for organizations adopting this cybersecurity platform. According to Penel, "The Fortinet Security Fabric enables us to manage all of the products in our large portfolio under one ecosystem."

Penel further elaborates on Fortinet's resolute commitment to the Saudi market, highlighting the establishment of a new local headquarters and the provision of comprehensive services. Discussing Fortinet's participation in Black Hat 2023 in Riyadh, Penel underscores the event as an invaluable opportunity to showcase Fortinet's active involvement, deep understanding of Saudi Arabia's strategy, and unwavering commitment for the long term. He emphasizes key initiatives addressing the cybersecurity skills gap, support for recent graduates, and collaborations with local academic institutions, stating, "We are very proud to be part of Black Hat because we can show this very active market who we are. Moreover, we want to show the market that we want to be here for the long-term."

Delving into the technological significance showcased during Black Hat, such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), Penel underscores Fortinet's collaborations and emphasizes the burgeoning importance of Security Operations (SecOps) and infrastructure management in the prevention of cyber threats. He accentuates Fortinet's pivotal role in supporting Saudi Arabia's cybersecurity objectives through robust educational initiatives, strategic agreements with universities, and sustained investments in system engineers. "SASE, for example, is heralding a new era, a new paradigm cloud project. FortiSASE enables secure access from anywhere to the web, cloud, and applications everywhere”.  

Addressing Fortinet's role in securing Saudi Arabia's digital transformation journey, Penel articulates a steadfast commitment to the country. He discusses substantial investments in new capacities, collaborative efforts with local engineers, and initiatives supporting the next generation through educational programs. Penel emphasizes Fortinet's strategic plans for market expansion in Saudi Arabia, extending support to organizations in their digital transformation journey and actively seeking further partnerships. "We are working with different ministers as well as large enterprises on this endpoint. We have strong experts locally and will seek further partners. It's very well understood from outside, and what we are trying to do on a daily basis is to support the market on this journey."

Penel concludes the interview by commending the caliber of events like Black Hat, acknowledging the focus on showcasing diverse providers, solutions, and services. He expresses Fortinet's elation in contributing to such environments and articulates the company's readiness to play a pivotal role in fortifying protection and enhancing cybersecurity for both companies and individuals in Saudi Arabia. "As Fortinet, we are delighted to be here and to be part of this environment, and we are ready to contribute in our own way."

Alain Penel's profound insights provide a panoramic understanding of Fortinet's strategic prowess, its integral role in shaping Saudi Arabia's cybersecurity landscape, and its dynamic plans aligned with the kingdom's ambitious digital transformation objectives.

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