Fortinet FortiGate-VM Review

Excellent UI, very good features and very scalable

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution simply for its firewall functionality. It's the main reason we use it.

What is most valuable?

For myself, the UI is pretty much perfect. It's much easier to work with than Cisco's FirePOWER, for example. I prefer the way it is designed above everything else, even though Cisco may be better for a different reason. Fortigate is just hands down more intuitive and therefore users need less training. While a non-tech person may need a bit of training in terms of configuration, it's still easier than Cisco.

In terms of general features, I find Fortigate and Cisco very comparable. They technically do the same things. Both can drill down by IP or region, so, application-wise, they're very much the same. 

What needs improvement?

The stability could be improved. I find Cisco to be more stable than Fortigate, which is I major differentiator between the two.

I haven't really explored the cloud too much, as we deal mostly with an on-premises system. However, now with everyone working from home due to COVID-19, it's something I'm beginning to explore and something I think Fortigate needs to invest in and expand on. If they could do something that integrates the cloud effectively, maybe with a cloud provider like Azure, that would be helpful.

Fortigate could speed up its level of customer service in our region.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for quite a few years now. It's been perhaps five or six years in total.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

While the stability maybe isn't quite to the level of Cisco, it is a very cost-effective solution. It's cheap compared to Cisco. Licensing is very, very easy. It's much, much easier than Cisco where licensing is a pain. The Cisco licensing is very difficult to configure, which makes Fortigate a more attractive alternative even with less stability. 

That said, after working with Fortigate for many years, I haven't really encountered a lot of crashes or glitches. The hardware is very, very good. Once a power adapter failed on us and we just replaced it on the device and it was able to recover. With ASA, I can say so far so good. The hardware's really good. They've improved a lot of the hardware specs.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with scalability. If a company needs to build it out or expand, they really shouldn't have any issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

The customer support for Fortigate is fine. Compared to Cisco, however, I would say Cisco's response might be a bit faster. If a device fails, they'll be onsite to replace it themselves. In my region, in terms of Fortigate's response to a similar event, users would have to go through the distributor and not directly to Fortigate. That's why it takes longer. It could be a bit easier, and if they did it a bit more like Cisco, I think it would be better. However, Fortigate's response isn't bad.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. A company just needs to get requirements from its customers and then they can just deploy. It's not complex at all.

Deployment takes about two weeks. The setup itself is very fast and you will have limited downtime. However, there will be fine-tuning that will be required and this may take weeks. If a customer gives new requirements at any time, you'll need to make some tweaks.

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

With Cisco, licensing is quite complex, but with Fortigate, you simply need to buy a bundle and they give you everything you'll require.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Right now, I'm also interested in learning more about Cisco, and how it compares to Fortigate. I know Cisco quite well, but I've never directly compared Cisco and Fortigate together before. Of course, I still believe I know Fortigate better.

What other advice do I have?

We're resellers of both Cisco and Fortigate solutions.

I'd advise other companies or users to give a try. The Virtual Appliance is very easy to set up. In terms of scalability, it's easy enough to expand out, especially if you compare it to the hardware. For the virtual solution, it's easily upgraded. For the physical, you need to do a POC.

It really depends on what kind of distributor a company is working with. Some provide you all the resources. Others don't. I'm not sure how it works with the Cisco Virtual Appliance. For Cisco, I only know about the cloud. 

Normally, I provide my customer with Meraki. I won't provide a Cisco solution, even though Meraki is part of Cisco.

I would rate the solution eight out of ten. There's still room for improvement. There could be a bit better support and not all solution providers offer this kind of Virtual Appliance in my region. Once more people use it, they may begin to improve on it even more.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
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