Cisco ASAv Review

We need the product to have HA pairs, so we can failover. It is relatively stable.


What is our primary use case?

It's our firewall for our AWS VPC on the internal side that connects our VPC to headquarters.

I have been using the product for two years, but it has been installed in my company for four years.

What needs improvement?

Even on a smaller scale, people are finding you need HA pairs, and there's no way that the ASA can do that, at least in the virtual version. We needed the ability to failover to one of the others to do maintenance, and this is a glaring issue. However, it is one of their cheaper products, so its understandable. It is just that we would hope by now, because it has been in use in a lot of different environments, for even moderately sized companies, the ability to have HA pairs would be extremely useful.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been relatively stable, in the sense that it stays up. It doesn't die on us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability has been a pain point for us. 

It's great for what it does. Just make sure you know whatever environment you are using it in is not going to have to scale. Just use it for sandbox. As long as they stay competitive, use the ASA, but make sure you have a plan to grow out of it.

How is customer service and technical support?

We have definitely made some calls to Cisco regarding issues. While it is time consuming, they are thorough. Sometimes depending on the urgency, if there is a real P1 problem going on, it would be more helpful to go straight to the chase than to have to go through troubleshooting steps that are mandated. A lot of times, it is understandable why they're there, but I wish they had a different, expedited process, especially when they're dealing with our senior network engineer who has already ruled out some things. Cisco tends to make you go through the steps, which is part of any normal troubleshooting. However, when you're dealing with an outage, it can be very frustrating.

How was the initial setup?

The integration and configuration were pretty straightforward.

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

We purchased the product through the AWS Marketplace. While I wasn't part of the buying process for Cisco ASA, I have used it to purchase AMIs.

The AWS Marketplace been great, but it could be a bit more user-friendly from an aesthetic perspective. It is fully functional and easy to figure out once you are in it. However, the layout of the AMIs has a lot missing, e.g., you have to side click to find the area for community AMIs. It would be awesome if AWS Marketplace would put up a wider range of AMIs.

With the Cisco ASA, you do get what you pay for. What would really be awesome is to see Cisco blow out a real cheap version where you can use the sandbox, but leave it step-wise and go to another product relatively easily, like getting you hooked on candy. The problem is that we already paid for the ASAs, and we grew quickly. Now, we have found ourselves in a situation where we have to wait for next year's budget and everyone is using it. We've gone from a sandbox model to full production. If Cisco was a bit more on the ball with this type of thing, such as pay a smaller lump sum, then scale as a pay by use or have an option to switch models. This would be good because then we could actually leverage this type of model.

Right now, we want to go to the rocket stuff, and our people who make the decisions financially will just have a heart attack. They will choke on it. However, if we can roll it into our AWS bill, and slowly creep it in, it is usually more palatable. As crazy as that sounds, even if its more expensive to do it this way.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our network guy looked at alternatives and settled on Cisco ASA. It was the cheapest available option, virtualized, and he was familiar with Cisco, like many people are because it's a great company. It made the most sense at the time, because our VPC was a sandbox at first. Now, it has grown, which is where the pain point is: the scalability of the ASA. We have sort of wedged ourselves into a corner.

We are now looking into Cisco Meraki, the CSR stuff, and the SD-WAN technology.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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