Cisco ASA Firewall Review

Automated policy application and enforcement saves significant time when adding devices, users, or new locations


What is our primary use case?

We are a Cisco partner and we implement solutions for our customers who are generally in the banking sector and other private sectors.

They are using it as a data center firewall and to secure their internet connections. Our customers usually integrate the firewall with ISE, with a Firepower module for IPS, and there are some NAC solutions.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution enhances the performance of the network. It blocks most of the threats and it updates attack signatures so it protects customer data better. The loss of data would be a crisis for any customer. With the deep inspection and analysis and the threat updates, it gives you more protection and safety.

Our clients use automated policy application and enforcement. For example, when you have a very big deployment or a bank needs to deploy more branches, this saves a lot of time when doing the implementation. Similarly, when you add more users or you add more devices, when you create a profile of the policies, they will be available in a matter of minutes, regardless of the number of branches or users or applications. It reduces the time involved in that by 75 percent.

What is most valuable?

The traffic inspection and the Firepower engine are the most valuable features. It gives you full details, application details, traffic monitoring, and the threats. It gives you all the containers the user is using, especially at the application level. The solution also provides application visibility and control.

The integration between the ASA and Cisco ISE is very easy because they are from the same vendor. We don't face any integration problems. This is one of the valuable points of Cisco firewalls. They can be easily integrated with different Cisco security products.

Our clients also use other products with Cisco ASA, such as Aruba ClearPass and different NAC solutions. The integration of these other products is also easy with Cisco. 

It integrates with email security and Firepower. For example, if you have an attached file infected or you have attacks through email, the traffic will be forwarded to the email security and it will be blocked by the firewall. It gives you a clear view of the file and it can be blocked at every stage, protecting your network from this threat.

One of the best parts is the traffic management and the inspection of the traffic packets. The Device Manager is easy to use to supervise things, and the Firepower application gives you clear threat detection and blocking of all threats. Cisco also provides a better analysis of the traffic.

In addition, Talos is an enhancement to Cisco firewalls, and provides a better view.

The device management options, such as Firepower Device Manager (FDM), Cisco Firepower Management Center (FMC), or Cisco Defense Orchestrator (CDO) add a lot of enhancements in the initial deployment and configuration. In migrating, they can help to create the migration configuration and they help in managing encryption and automation. They add a lot enhancements to the device. They make things easier. In the past, you had to use the CLI and you could not control all this. Now you have a GUI which provides visibility and you can easily integrate and make changes.

What needs improvement?

When I deal with other firewalls like Palo Alto or Fortinet, I think there is some room for performance tuning and enhancement of the ASA. I'm not saying there is a performance issue with the product, but when compared to others, it seems the others perform a little bit better.

There could be enhancements to the cloud part of the solution. It's good now, but more enhancements would be helpful.

Finally, security generally requires integration with many devices, and the management side of that process could be enhanced somewhat. It would help if there was a clear view of the integrations and what the easiest way to do them is.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cisco ASA NGFW for more than 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The ASA is stable. There may be some small stability issues, when compared to others, but it is a stable product. There could be enhancements to the ASA in this area when compared to other vendors, but it is not a problem with the product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable, with virtualization and other features.

In terms of future-proofing our customers' security, we recommend the ASA. We have tested it in large environments and it's working well. The lesson I have learned from using Cisco ASA is that Cisco's research is continuous. They provide enhancements every day. It's a product for the future.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is a very strong point in Cisco's favor. I would rate it very highly. The support is excellent.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is of medium difficulty. It is not very complex. Generally, when working in the security field, things are a little bit complex because you are integrating with many vendors and you are defending against a lot of different kinds of attacks.

The amount of time it takes to deploy the ASA depends on the complexity of the site where it is being set up. On average, it can take about a week. It could be that there are many policies that need to be migrated, and it depends on the integration. For the initial setup, it takes one day but the amount of time it takes beyond that depends on the security environment.

What was our ROI?

Our customers definitely see return on investment with Cisco ASA because when you protect your network there is ROI. If you lose your data you have a big loss. The ROI is in the security level and the protection of data.

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

The value of the pricing needs to be enhanced from Cisco because there are a lot of competitors in the market. There is room for improvement in the pricing when compared to the market. Although, when you compare the benefits of support from Cisco, you can adjust the value and it becomes comparable, because you usually need very good support. So you gain value there with this device.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is to take care of and monitor your policies and be aware of the threats. You also have to be careful when changing policies. When you do, don't leave unused policies around, because that will affect performance. You should have audits of your firewall and its policies and follow the recommendations from Cisco support.

Among the things I have learned from using Cisco ASA is that integration is easy, especially with Cisco products. And the support helps you to integrate with anything, so you can integrate with products outside of the Cisco family as well.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
More Cisco ASA Firewall reviews from users
...who work at a Financial Services Firm
...who compared it with Fortinet FortiGate
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