F5 Advanced WAF Review

Extremely stable hardware with great plug-ins and excellent features


What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution to protect web and API applications. You can choose either web classic or API to protect against different types of attacks.

What is most valuable?

There are two main features that we love on F5.

The first is the hardware itself. It's extremely stable and reliable. We never face any issues with it and performance is never affected. 

The second is the features on offer. Feature-wise, they are always cutting edge and up-to-date. Many features aren't available via competitors. There's always a lot of enhanced critical features that just aren't available through anyone else, or, if they are, are too lightweight. They're the leaders in the space.

What needs improvement?

We usually use a third-party tool for logging and reporting. It would be nice if we could do that right on this solution. They have one, but it's not very stable. Logging and reporting effectively would be a big enhancement.

The solution still needs some development to handle more traffic, especially in huge environments. In small environments, it's not an issue. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've bee using the solution for more than ten years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is extremely stable and robust. There are no issues with bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's great. The stability is a huge selling feature.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's scalable. There's always options to upgrade the hardware. Any hardware you buy from a store, you have the basic model and the upgraded model. For example, if you buy the 4600 appliance, you can upgrade up to 4800. You get double specs for everything, so you can just upgrade the license of the hardware. However, hardware eventually has a limitation. If you buy too small of a size of hardware, eventually there's some development limitations for the hardware. You can, however, do a cluster. You can add multiple hardware devices. This makes it very scalable.

The solution is not user-based. It's more connection-based, so there's no limitation on the number of users. It's more of a limitation on total throughput or total connection. Limitations depend on the application and how much traffic it generates. We've seen it in Telco environment where there's more than millions of users. We've also seen it do well with online banking where there are thousands of users. Small companies can use it too. It can vary, however, we've seen it in millions of users at Telco.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is great. We always open tickets. They're always very fast and very professional, and they always solve the issues. We're extremely satisfied with the level of support we receive.

How was the initial setup?

If you want to do the basic installation and get the system up and running, then it's pretty straightforward. However, you have the flexibility to go very advanced and you can get into very complicated scenarios. That's what we like about the solution. There's a lot of use cases where you're required to have the ability to create some advanced features or some complicated scenarios. It gives you the capabilities to handle them.

You have the flexibility to go beyond that and have advanced scripting rules and advanced features in order to have more capability to do new things that are not as common. You need to have the space to improvise things if you need to.

While a straightforward deployment may only take a few hours, as it has a pre-defined rough template, there's always tuning to be done. It's a security product. It's not like it's plug-and-play. There's always a learning phase and tuning is necessary. This is common with any security product. That said, to get it up and operational, it's a matter of hours.

For a proper work deployment, to be frank, you need an ether professional because there's an ether configuration change. You also need a security professional to do the rules and policies and everything. Then, you need the involvement of the web application developer, so you can understand the content of the web application. Security people don't know which link is good and which link is bad inside the application. Usually, you need three people from the team - one each from network, security, and application - to have a proper deployment.

What other advice do I have?

We're an integrator.

We have a big customer base, therefore we always have to be up to date with the latest versions. We feed to constantly look at things so that we know the new features.

I highly recommend the solution to other companies. F5 has a huge portfolio of plug-ins. You can add it to the top of the web. On the same appliance, you can have your balancer, you can have your application authentication, and those things that turn on. You can have multiple other features on the same hardware. It is definitely a technology that adapts. I can use the application in different ways beyond just security.

On a scale from one to ten, I'd rate it at a perfect ten.

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: Integrator.
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