Fortinet FortiGate Review

Good interface with good reporting and useful templates

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution as a firewall.

What is most valuable?

We use the firewall to enforce our company ideologies and principles and policies. The solution has built-in features for web filtering that are great. It categorizes it nicely for you. 

The interface itself is nice to work with. It's a lot better than the initial interface that they used to have around version four. I used to work for FortiGate some time back, and the earlier interfaces were not as good as these latest ones. 

I like that once you open it up, you have a dashboard that can give you a holistic overview of what is happening. You can see, for example, how your resources are doing on your firewall or if you still have disc space for logs and so forth.

The solution gives you an immediate view of what's happening on the hardware itself. What we have done with FortiGate is we have put up a FortiAnalyzer, a FortiGate reporting hardware. We are using it in conjunction with FortiGate. 

The solution offers good reporting. We get our reports from there. We have the opportunity to get real-time reports. 

There are great templates, so you don't have to customize them if you don't want to. You do have the option to custom create some folders and some reports, however, with what is there, you don't really need to go through extra effort, as they already give you a lot of predefined views of reports and so forth.

We have access to quite a few features. The web filter and application control are primarily what we are using. Then we also have a VPN feature, which allows for our remote users to connect and get through the firewall. 

What needs improvement?

The commercial side of things can be improved a bit. They have such a good product, and when you disable some features, it has to be commercialized for you to enjoy those features. Therefore, you are actually buying half a product. You have hardware there, and yet, your features are not enabled. The primary things, such as the antivirus, web filter, DNS filter, application intrusion, file filter, and email filter come with the general license. There are other things that you want to also enjoy in this system and you can't. 

There are SD-WAN network monitoring, SD-WAN features, Industrial Databases, Internet of Things, Detection, etc., however, we do have not licenses for those features. We thought that if you bought a product, you should have all of the features it offers. Why should you need to make so many extra purchases to enable features? They should have one price for the entire offering. That's one of the drawbacks they could look at. 

Sometimes the firmware automatically updates itself. Then it corrupts the configuration and you have to roll back or you have to do amendments to the configurations. That, however, has happened only once with us. We have put in controls for automatic updates to stop them and now we do manual allowance or we allow the manual update.

Most of the features are good. They give you pricing and you get a VPN for about 10 users where you can test it. For us, we feel that we need to buy extra licenses due to COVID, as people are working from home. Under the current conditions, we are not getting the best out of the firewall. 

They could just maybe put better graphics or better reporting into the solution. I want to know who is the user and what is the exact website they're visiting. Something like that would help. They should do more like what the GFI is doing.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the solution for a bit over a year now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

6.4.2 is our current version. The latest is 6.4.3. It's available like I say, however, we have not installed it. We'll wait until around December, then we will then install that one. We like to wait to witness its stability. Once we know it is bug-free, then we allow it to run as the latest platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have a cluster and we have configured it with high availability. What we have done is we have put one primary and one secondary in case it breaks or it gets damaged. We have a third one at our DR site as well, which works in conjunction with Plateau. We have employed the same rules and some stricter rules on the DR site, just to allow traffic between these machines.

We allow certain times for updates on the infrastructure we have at the DR. We are planning some more, however, we don't enjoy all the features yet. We want to bring in an SD-WAN. Maybe that can also help us with scaling our network at different angles and from the cloud or being from an LD device or so forth. We're still working on that.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have a partner that we work with. We have support at another level and I'm the primary person that looks after the firewall. If I have an issue that is urgent and I don't have the time to do the knowledge base to actually turn it around, we usually engage our partner, which has engineers that have the knowledge necessary to deal with it and who are certified in FortiGate. 

We have what is called FortiCare. We have FortiCare support as well for firmware and general updates and all those other things. I normally do updates and so forth myself. It's very little intervention from outside technical support.

How was the initial setup?

Having background knowledge, the initial implementation was not really complex for me. You just need to know your environment and what is needed as well as what is allowed. 

The business input was the only item outstanding as there were issues such as who needs to have social media access at what time and who needs to have full access. Those were business decisions, however, but from the technical side, it was fairly easy.

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

They have almost all the features embedded in the solution. It's just that some features are not available because you have to pay for it. There are lots of add-ons available, and you need to pay extra for them, so pricing can add up.

What other advice do I have?

We are strictly a government entity. We are a customer.

The model that we are using is the 500E, which is for small and medium enterprises. We are not a big institution. We do not have the latest version. We like to wait about three months before we apply anything new to make sure the early releases aren't flawed. After three months, after we've got a good review, then we will say, "Okay, let's upgrade to that version."

Even though we feel that sometimes they create a new version to take care of a vulnerability or threat, we like to be safe and avoid bugs. The version that we are fitting currently is 6.4.2, which is fairly stable.

Apart from the fact that they should just include everything in their offering, everything else works fine for me. There's a whole lot of Fortinet products that work together, FortiSwitches, FortiAP's, etc. Overall, I would give it eight of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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