Palo Alto Networks K2-Series Review

IPS system is the strongest you can get and it has good decryption

What is our primary use case?

The primary use for this solution depends on the preference of a customer and to some extent their existing environment.  

We have to establish things like:  

  • what are the business requirements  
  • how we can utilize what is existing or if the client needs to upgrade equipment  
  • what kind of servers do we put in  
  • what kind of servers does he have on cloud  
  • what kind of servers do we have on-premises  

So it all depends on the customer's requirements. If a query comes up with a client, I am happy to answer that and provide a resolution but the situation needs to consider specific needs.  

What is most valuable?

The thing I like the most about Palo Alto is that the IPS system is the strongest you can get. Even if you check with resources like the NSS Labs or Gardner — anywhere else — they all say it has the strongest IPS. It holds true even over the past five years. They are the leaders in the field.  

The reason I believe in my eyes that the IPS is the most valuable feature in Palo Alto is that the IPS is basically protecting everything. I think every two or three hours the database for the IPS signatures gets updated.  

One more feature of Palo Alto, which is not in Fortinet if you compare, is decryption. Palo Alto firewalls are doing SSL inspection and they are doing decryption as well. If we need SSL inbound inspection it is available in Palo Alto but Fortinet does not have this feature. They are not doing SSL inbound inspection. It is one more thing I would like to include as a positive feature of Palo Alto in my opinion.  

What needs improvement?

There is not really anything that needs to be improved in the product. It might be nice if it were possible for newer users to get a higher level of support.  

For how long have I used the solution?

The company I work for now is a business I more recently joined. It has been about two years with the company but I have been dealing with Palo Alto products for 10 years now.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We are talking about a firewall and we are not talking about a simple machine. We are talking about a machine that is not something you can just make simple. We are not talking about a general machine, so it does not really have general features. It does have multiple features. It does have processing engines — the parallel processing of Palo Alto — which is great. The stability will depend on the configuration and use. You really only have two options. You can either go for Palo Alto, or with Fortinet. These are the leaders of network security right now, so I guess those are stable or they would not be popular.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Palo Alto has got a lot of customers now — even in the middle East. Almost every version has been scalable. That is the main reason that people are buying the product. I am satisfied with the scalability.  

How are customer service and technical support?

The quality of technical support usually depends on your support level. If your support level is 24/7 365 then obviously your support is going to be perfect. But if you did not purchase that support, you will have some other level of support which is not 365 days. For example, they have an option for eight-by-seven which is eight hours per day seven days a week or something like that. The eight-by-seven support is not good in that case if you need it often or at times when it is not available.  

I have worked for Palo Alto as well as consulting about their products and they are really good at what they are doing, but there are pros and cons for every product. This applies especially to the goals when it comes to support. Most of the customers are not educated enough to do hands-on technical stuff on a product that is new for them every time even if they have experience with similar products. They need support because the basic concepts are essentially the same for firewalls everywhere, but the operating system and the way it does the processing is different for every type of firewall. So new users of Palo Alto may require support to set up most of the things, and if a user does not have the level of support he needs, he will be facing issues. He will not be able to finish his work on time.  

I really feel that all products have some level of technical support issues. Every product has pros and cons and even in the support level. A lot of times we will not find support in our same region. It would be located in different regions. So it happens to be pretty much normal for IT. People probably do not feel that is a good issue to face, but issues in the support are actually fine. That is manageable.  

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

I do have experience using next-generation firewalls, traditional firewalls, NDN (Named Data Networking) firewalls, distributed firewalls, and NSX. We still use various products but I prefer to use Palo Alto because of its capabilities.  

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

I am actually satisfied with the pricing of Palo Alto even though it is expensive. If you are talking about using products by a leader in the field and it is a bit expensive compared to other vendors, then that is totally fine for me because you are not compromising your security. In many other cases — like if there are budget issues — the companies can always go for Fortinet. It is also a good firewall, but it is cheaper. If you have got the budget to purchase Palo Alto, get it. If you do not have the budget, go for Fortinet or any other firewall.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When we were looking for some different solutions, I was looking for comparisons between AlgoSec's firewall and others. I have been trying to research basically right now before purchasing another solution. We are looking for firewall management. We have multiple-vendor firewalls and we are looking to manage them from one console. From there I can manage all my multi-vendor firewalls, DMZ, internal firewalls, group firewalls, et cetera. That is why I was looking at AlgoSec, because it is capable of doing re-certification as well as integrating with NSX as well. There are a lot of things it can do. AlgoSec seems to meet my basic requirements for the solution.  

We are using multiple vendors like Cisco, Palo Alto, Fortinet, and Juniper. We are not limited to one vendor. We have different environments and different firewalls for each environment.  

But mostly, in the current market over here, the clients are preferring to go with Palo Alto as a DC (Data Center) firewall to use internally because IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) is really strong. As for Fortinet, people are preferring that as a solution for DMZ.  

What other advice do I have?

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would give Palo Alto a rating of nine-out-of-ten.  

I would not give the product a ten and it is not really because there are additional features can be included to make it a perfect ten. Nobody is perfect. Based on smaller support issues is not really something I can rate a product on. Based on their performance in being a leader of these technologies and the leaders and the inventors of next-generation firewalls — based on that, I am giving them a nine. They have better processing which Palo Alto is the only one doing. Based on that and IPS system I give them a nine. And because I am not a perfect guy, I keep one Mark.  

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