Inter-VDOM configurations

InterVDOM configurations

By using fewer physical interfaces to inter-connect VDOMs, inter-VDOM links provide you with more configuration options.

None of these configurations use VLANs to reduce the number of physical interfaces. It is generally assumed that an internal or client network will have its own internal interface and an external interface to connect to its ISP and the Internet.

These inter-VDOM configurations can use any FortiGate model with possible limitations based on the number of physical interfaces. VLANs can be used to work around these limitations.

There are four different types of inter-VDOM configurations:

  • Standalone VDOM
  • Independent VDOMs
  • Management VDOM
  • Meshed VDOM


Standalone VDOM

The standalone VDOM configuration uses a single VDOM on your FortiGate unit — the root VDOM that all FortiGate units have by default. This is the VDOM configuration you are likely familiar with. It is the default configuration for FortiGate units before you create additional VDOMs.

The configuration shown above has no VDOM inter-connections and requires no special configurations or settings.

The standalone VDOM configuration can be used for simple network configurations that only have one department or one company administering the connections, firewalls and other VDOM-dependent settings.

However, with this configuration, keeping client networks separate requires many interfaces, considerable firewall design and maintenance, and can quickly become time consuming and complex. Also, configuration errors for one client network can easily affect other client networks, causing unnecessary network downtime.


Independent VDOMs

The independent VDOMs configuration uses multiple VDOMs that are completely separate from each other. This is another common VDOM configuration.

This configuration has no communication between VDOMs and apart from initially setting up each VDOM, it requires no special configurations or settings. Any communication between VDOMs is treated as if communication is between separate physical devices.

The independent inter-VDOM configuration can be used where more than one department or one company is sharing the FortiGate unit. Each can administer the connections, firewalls and other VDOM-dependent settings for only its own VDOM. To each company or department, it appears as if it has its own FortiGate unit. This configuration reduces the amount of firewall configuration and maintenance required by dividing up the work.

However, this configuration lacks a management VDOM for VDOMs 1, 2, and 3. This is illustrated in Figure 50. This management VDOM would enable an extra level of control for the FortiGate unit administrator, while still allowing each company or department to administer its own VDOM.


Management VDOM

In the management VDOM configuration, the root VDOM is the management VDOM. The other VDOMs are connected to the management VDOM with inter-VDOM links. There are no other inter-VDOM connections.

The inter-VDOM links connect the management VDOM to the other VDOMs. This does not require any physical interfaces, and the bandwidth of inter-VDOM links can be faster than physical interfaces, depending on the CPU workload.

Only the management VDOM is connected to the Internet. The other VDOMs are connected to internal networks. All external traffic is routed through the management VDOM using inter-VDOM links and firewall policies between the management VDOM and each VDOM. This ensures the management VDOM has full control over access to the Internet, including what types of traffic are allowed in both directions. There is no communication directly between the non-root VDOMs. Security is greatly increased with only one point of entry and exit. Only the management VDOM needs to be fully managed to ensure network security in this case. Each client network can manage its own configuration without compromising security or bringing down another client network.

The management VDOM configuration is ideally suited for a service provider business. The service provider administers the management VDOM with the other VDOMs as customers. These customers do not require a dedicated IT person to manage their network. The service provider controls the traffic and can prevent the customers from using banned services and prevent Internet connections from initiating those same banned services. One example of a banned service might be Instant Messaging (IM) at a company concerned about intellectual property. Another example could be to limit bandwidth used by file-sharing applications without banning that application completely. Firewall policies control the traffic between the customer VDOM and the management VDOM and can be customized for each customer.

The management VDOM configuration is limited in that the customer VDOMs have no inter-connections. In many situations this limitation is ideal because it maintains proper security. However, some configurations may require customers to communicate with each other, which would be easier if the customer VDOMs were inter- connected.


Meshed VDOM

The meshed VDOMs configuration, including partial and full mesh, has VDOMs inter-connected with other VDOMs. There is no special feature to accomplish this—they are just complex VDOM configurations.

Partial mesh means only some VDOMs are inter-connected. In a full mesh configuration, all VDOMs are inter- connected to all other VDOMs. This can be useful when you want to provide full access between VDOMs but handle traffic differently depending on which VDOM it originates from or is going to.

With full access between all VDOMs being possible, it is extra important to ensure proper security. You can achieve this level of security by establishing extensive firewall policies and ensuring secure account access for all administrators and users.

Meshed VDOM configurations can become complex very quickly, with full mesh VDOMs being the most complex. Ensure this is the proper solution for your situation before using this configuration. Generally, these configurations are seen as theoretical and are rarely deployed in the field.

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