Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Review

Good application detection, strong antivirus capabilities and built-in machine learning

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution as a firewall.

What is most valuable?

From my experience, comparing it to other products, the granularity you can have in the application is very good. The application detection is excellent. It's certainly one of the best. 

The engine detector application is usually one of the best compared to any other firewall on the market, in my opinion.  With it, I can do a lot of rules based on the application. If you have multiple internet links, you can have an application export from one link, and an application wire from another link. You can have security on the application. The security, for example, can have different functionalities. Basically, the granularity of rules is amazing in Palo Alto.

They have a good reputation for their antivirus capabilities.

The solution offers a strong URL based system or detection for malicious URL or malicious files. 

They even have a machine learning algorithm. They do a lot of very advanced detection for files and URLs. 

Once you deploy the product, you can basically forget about it. It has high customer satisfaction because it's always just working.

What needs improvement?

The solution would benefit from having a dashboard.

From a normal IPS after attack, routine attack and threat detection attack, in other words, the standard IPS detection attack, I don't see Palo Alto as very good compared to others. The standard network IPS functionality could be better. It's there in solutions like McAfee or Tipping Point, however, I don't see it here in this solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been working with Palo Alto for about six years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From my experience, it's the best hardware compared to other NG firewalls from the perspective of performance stability. While the other firewalls lose 50 or 60% of performance when enabling all policies, Palo Alto loses 10 to 20% maximum, even with enabled IPS and fire detection and all. From our experience performance-wise, it's one of the best hardware solutions for firewalls. 

We haven't lost performance really, so I would describe it as very stable. There are not any issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Since the solution is hardware, there are some limitations in terms of scalability.

Usually, in hardware, you can't say it's scalable or not due to the fact that you have the limitations built-in related to the size of the box. The box has a maximum number that it can reach. You can add more hardware, however, the hardware itself is finite.

We usually do a POC first so we can get the figures for performance and we can put in a box that can support 20 or 30 people extra for future expansion.

How are customer service and technical support?

In general technical support is very good. That said, usually, when we face an issue, we try to solve it ourselves internally before going to level one support. 

In general, we never have had a big issue with support. I don't have much experience with the support team to tell you if they're really good or not. Usually 80% of the cases we open, we talk with the distributor and finish the operation case directly with Palo Alto. It's more like a backend request and therefore I don't have much input that would be objective.

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

As resellers, we also work with Cisco and some Forcepoint solutions.

I like that in Cisco there's more security parts, like IPS, and a Demandware engine.

I like Cisco, in general, more than Palo Alto if I'm comparing the two. However, from an application perspective, our application's usability and detection and firewall control using an application, it's Palo Alto that's the best on the market. That's, of course, purely from a  firewall point of view. Even in terms of detection of the applications, it has the best system.

How was the initial setup?

The deployment depends on the client's environment as well as how they are using it. For example, an internet NG firewall on the internet, it takes, on average, a week between installation, integration, and tuning. Usually we don't do all the policies because we are system integrator. We do the main policies and we teach the customer and then do a handover to the user for tuning and all the installation extras.

If it's a data center project, it takes more time and effort. It takes a month sometimes due to the fact that we'll be dealing with a lot of traffic. The application and server are usually harder to control than internet applications like Facebook and other standard applications, and easier on the internet. Then there's also internal applications, custom applications, migrating applications, finance education applications, etc., which are not always direct from the customer or directly known.

In short, the implementation isn't always straightforward. There can be quite a bit of complexity, depending on the company.

What other advice do I have?

In general, I prefer hardware, and Palo Alto's is quite good. However, we have a couple of virtual deployments for cases as well.

I would definitely recommend the solution. It's one of the best firewalls on the market. I've worked with four different vendors in the past, and some of the most mature NG firewalls are Palo Alto's. It's their main business, so they are able to really focus on the tech. They spend a lot of time on R&D. They're always leading the way with new technologies. 

While Cisco has more main products, Palo Alto really does focus in on NG firewalls. That's why I always see them as a leader in the space.

I'd rate the solution nine out of ten.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
More Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls reviews from users
...who work at a Financial Services Firm
...who compared it with Cisco ASA Firewall
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