Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Review

Provides us with application visibility and control and has improved our clients' end to end firewall functionality


What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is to improve network security. 

The maturity of our company's security implementation depends on our clients. Some of our clients really need a lot of work but some of them are advantaged. We are major implementors for Cisco. 

We implement it for our clients and we also use it internally. Our security maturity is advanced. We have been in IT business for over 75 years. We have major netowrk firewall experts in the company, so we know what to do. 

Our company uses more than thirty security tools. Ideally, we would use an end to end unified tool. But network security is far from that so we need to use multiple tools. 

How has it helped my organization?

Firepower has been used for quite a few enterprise clients. Most of our clients are Fortune 500 and Firepower is used to improve their end to end firewall functionality. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the intelligence. It sends a warning for a potential attack, a zero-day attack. It sends us an advanced warning. We really like this feature. 

We use other Cisco tools for switches, routers, and AppDynamics. We also use their wireless tool. We are Cisco's biggest partner, so we use the majority of their solutions. This is one of the reasons people become a Cisco-shop, because of the integration. 

The integration between these products isn't perfect. 

Firepower provides us with application visibility and control. We have a standard evaluation procedure with around 136 criteria. We have a team that does the evaluation and there were viruses reported.

In terms of its ability to provide visibility into threats, we put a different application to be tested. We check how much we can see. What kind of network traffic goes through different devices. We know what's going on. If something went wrong, we see the attack, we know where and which attack. We put it into our testing center. You can never get 100% visibility. Sometimes we can't detect until the damage is done. That is the danger of being in the firewall business. You never know what kinds of tricks a hacker will use. It's endless work.

Talos is pretty decent. It offers smart intelligence. It helps my team detect what is going on. Without it, the ability of the power stations would be much less. Talos is one of the reasons that we go with Cisco. It is a big advantage.

We use automated policy application and enforcement. Any of the networks are very complex. It has freed up a lot of our time. Now, it's much better but it's still far from enough. We have saved 90% of our time due to the automation. 

Firepower has improved our enterprise defense ability by a lot. 

We use the whole suite of Cisco device management options. Compared to ten years ago, I have seen a lot of improvement, but it's still far from enough. I wish the intelligence will be improved. There is a big learning curve now. If a new gear comes into place, then the first three months aren't so accurate. With machine learning, it is getting better. The intelligence should be there from day one. But it will still need to learn the environment and which attack is the most common.

We are still trying to figure out the best practices for harmonizing policies and enforcement across heterogeneous networks. It's something new. More and more applications are going onto the cloud and we need the hybrid Firepower ability. 

What needs improvement?

The intelligence has room for improvement. There are some hackers that we haven't seen before and its ability to detect those types of attacks needs to be improved.

There is a bit of an overlap in their offerings. Which causes clients to overpay for whatever they end up selecting. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Firepower for 3 years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I see a lot of improvement in terms of stability but it's still not 100%. We still have bugs and things will go wrong that will cause the system to not function and we will have to reboot and restart. That is something that Cisco should fix. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is reasonable and okay. 

One of the clients we have has 21,000,000 node. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We use their support a lot. In my view, they need a lot of improvement. A lot of the representatives are far away and they don't have a lot of knowledge. You need to get to level two or three for them to be able to help. My team is very experienced so it takes a lot for us to make a call to technical support. We need to talk to the right person to work out the issue. The support structure is not able to reach the right level right away. This is a problem that Cisco needs to work a lot to improve one. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also use Palo Alto, Check Point, Fortinet, Juniper, and Microsoft. 

Cisco came into firewalls much later. I would say they're top ten but they're not number one yet. They need to do more work. Cisco does better than the smaller players. 

The best firewall option is Palo Alto. 

Considering the expertise and the way they detect an advanced attack, Palo Alto is better than Cisco. 

How was the initial setup?

Compared to many years ago, the configuration is much more simplified. It is still not one button to get it all done. It's not easy enough. It hasn't reached the level where a junior staff member can get the job done. 

For my enterprise environment, the deployment goes wave by wave. It can take six to eight weeks. We do a rolling upgrade. It's not something that can be done in one action because the network is so huge and complex. 

We have a uniform implementation strategy. We have a standard upgrading proceeding. We do testing and verify and then we put it into production.  

What about the implementation team?

We are the integrators and consultant team. 

What was our ROI?

18 months

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

Be careful

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes

What other advice do I have?

Get your homework done. Get to know in-depth what Cisco can do and compare it with Palo Alto. If you're happy with Cisco, go for it but Palo Alto is the safer choice. 

I would rate it an eight out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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