Check Point NGFW Review

SmartLog gives our team a very intuitive way of searching logs and seeing events

What is our primary use case?

The primary use is to segregate the environment internally to create a lab environment and a production environment, for example. We also use them to protect the company from the internet and when going to the internet; to protect the perimeter of the company. We use them to create a VPN with customers and clients, and with the other companies that belong to the group.

We work with 1200s, 1500s, 4000s, and 5000s.

How has it helped my organization?

With this firewall on the perimeter, we detect a lot of attacks with the IPS and the antivirus blades. With the SmartLog for our team that operates the solution, we have a very intuitive way of searching the logs and seeing events, when compared to other vendors that we also have. This is the biggest advantage of the Check Point compared to competitors.

We have a lot of Check Point firewalls and a lot of Fortinet firewalls. The biggest advantage of the Check Point for us is that daily operations are much easier. That includes working with policies, checking and searching logs, dragging objects on the policies and searching where objects are used. All of that is easier in the SmartConsole than doing it on a browser, as the competitors do.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the

  • security blades 
  • ease of managing the policies, searching log for events, and correlating them.

What needs improvement?

Upgrades and debugging of the operating system, as well as the backups and restores of configuration, need improvement. 

Debugging is very complex when compared to Fortinet, for example. That's the worst thing about Check Point. The deployment of the solution is harder than it is with the competitors. But after you've deployed it, the operation is easy.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Check Point firewalls for about eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

They are very stable. We usually deploy them in clusters, in front of the node. We always have the other one functioning and we have never had an occasion in which one failed and the other also failed. We also have support for the hardware. But regarding their functioning, we are very satisfied. We have never had a big outage because the two members of a cluster went down. They are very good in terms of stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have some firewalls with the VSX functionality which allows us to add more virtual firewalls to the same physical cluster. That allows for scalability. But when compared to Fortinet, the way to have more than one virtual firewall on the same cluster is much harder.

It's very scalable if we have the VSX license for Check Point, which we have in some places. But it's much more complex than adding to the FortiGate. So it's scalable, but it's not easy to work with VSX, especially compared to the competitor.

Our usage should be increasing weekly because our company is buying other companies constantly and we need to deploy firewalls on the companies we buy. It shouldn't increase a lot, though, just a bit.

We have about 1,000 users crossing the firewalls and 10 network admins.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good in general, but it's better if you call and you are answered by the headquarters back in Israel. We notice a difference if we call at different times and we go through Canada or some other country. It's not bad, but we notice a bit of a difference in the way they handle the tickets and the knowledge they have.

We usually try to open tickets when we know that the office in Israel is open and they are taking the tickets. But there are some times that we can't do that. The others are not bad, but for some stuff we need quicker support and we feel we are being handled better on the Israeli side.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is complex and when you have issues, it's more complex. 

To create a cluster or to add a new firewall to the Manager, or when, for example, you want to add a license for IPS or for antivirus, there are often problems with that because it doesn't recognize the license. We end up having to call support. With Fortinet, that kind of initial setup of the firewall is always straightforward.

Now that we have a lot of experience it takes us two days, at the most, to deploy a Check Point firewall, if we don't run into problems with the license.

We are not at the data center, so we need to ask the data center guys to mount the firewall where we need it and to patch it. Then we access it via a console cable, remotely. We have equipment that allows us to do that. We do the initial config via the GUI, and then we add the firewall to the Manager and we start deploying the policies.

What about the implementation team?

We implement the firewalls ourselves.

What was our ROI?

The return on our investment with Check Point firewalls is that we are secure and that we haven't had any attacks that have had a big impact or that were successful. If we had been paying a lot and were being targeted to the same extent, I would say no, that we have not had a return on investment, but at this stage it's a "yes."

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In the past, when Fortinet was a young company, the price point of Fortinet was very low compared to Check Point. But at this stage, our experience is that the pricing is almost the same. The pricing of Check Point is fair when compared to others.

The only additional cost we have with Check Point is when we need to do a big migration. Sometimes we need a third-party company, but this is not usual. It's only for big migrations that we sometimes have support from an external company. The last time we needed something like that was two years ago.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Half of our environment is with Check Point and the other half is with Fortinet. We don't have a strategy of giving everything to one vendor; we like to have both.

What other advice do I have?

If the person implementing it doesn't have much experience in how the solution works, with the Manager and connecting the firewall to it, and using the SmartConsole, they should try to go through the CCSA materials for Check Point certification. Check Point is easy to work with on a daily basis. Sometimes we get new people working here and they can add rules straight away on the policies and push policies. But if they need to deploy a firewall and they are not used to Check Point and how it works and the components, it's not that straightforward. With competitors like Fortinet, you just have to access the HTTPS of the FortiGate and it's like configuring a router, which is much easier. With Check Point, you need to read some manuals before you start deploying the firewall.

The biggest lesson I have learned from using Check Point firewalls is that if you lose the Manager you lose the ability to manage the firewall policies, which is, in my opinion, the biggest difference when compared to other vendors. Because, for example, if the Manager stops working and the server where you have the Manager gets stuck, you have no way of managing the policies directly on the firewall.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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