Seeing the green: Troon Golf and Fortinet
Seeing the green: Troon Golf and Fortinet

Troon Golf, with 190 courses in 32 states, found a more efficient and cost-effective way to link its links, reports Greg Masters.

While golfers enjoy their rounds in pristine settings, hidden away far from the lush fairways, a small team is hard at work making sure the resorts' operation runs smoothly.

Founded in 1990, Troon Golf is one of the world's leading luxury-brand golf management, development and marketing companies. Headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., the company's portfolio includes golf courses, resorts and private club developments stretching from the Caribbean to Dubai, as well as Mexico, Hong Kong, Australia, Great Britain and continental Europe.

When the company set out to establish a connected environment in 1999, there was no broadband at any of its facilities, says Cary Westmark, the company's VP of information technology. Westmark and his IT team manage a network that connects 70 of the 85 facilities for Troon Golf's operations within the United States.

At that time, the company had to select a frame relay network (T1 lines) for its private wide area network connectivity and then install multiple Cisco relays (at a cost of $3,000 each) and a GNAT box appliance for use as a firewall. Anti-virus was managed at the desktop level. It was costing between $400 to $1,200 a month for each line.

After a few years, however, as broadband became more available, the company was able to take another look at its options. The goal was to reduce costs in its communications system.

“We were looking for a broadband solution on which we could run a VPN,” says Westmark.

After examining a number of possibilities, the company found its answer.

“Fortinet offered the right fit for features and cost,” says Westmark. “We could have done a similar thing with a competitor's product, but it would have been double the cost.”

Choosing an all-in-one solution from Fortinet allowed the company to replace multiple vendor appliances at each of its properties throughout the U.S. and to implement a VPN solution within one
unified threat management system.

Troon moved off the frame relay product, which was costing the company $500-$600 for each frame relay circuit, to Fortinet's broadband VPN product, which cost $150 for DSL and cable.

“The real savings we received was moving off the frame relay network to broadband,” says Westmark.
In fact, the company was able to realize a savings of $350 per month per site, a figure that adds up to a yearly savings of $250,000, says Chris Simmons, senior manager of product strategy at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Fortinet.

But Troon was looking for more than just cost savings. “We also needed a good firewall/VPN,” says Westmark. “We needed to provide the necessary protection from the internet, but also protection for our private email and data.”

Troon Golf deployed Fortinet's Forti­Gate 60 and 100 appliances at the 70 sites under Westmark's auspices, with a Forti­Gate 500A at the corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. A FortiManager centralized management system oversees operations of all the resort company's remote devices.

The FortiGate series of appliances block viruses at the gateway to the corporate network by scanning inbound and outbound traffic from the web (HTTP) or email (SMTP, POP3 and IMAP). Now the company's email, human resources, payroll and proprietary intranet are protected, says Westmark.

“Out of all the products I've bought, the Fortinet FortiGate 100 has proved to be the biggest win for us. We really didn't have high expectations five years ago when we installed Fortinet. But they've far outdone themselves from our perspective, at a price that's affordable and with very good customer support,” he says.