Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Review

Great protection without requiring a special dedicated network team; saves us a lot of time

What is our primary use case?

We have two 3000 Series Firewalls placed in our primary location. We have two sites and the secondary site uses the primary site for internet access. All traffic to the secondary location goes through a VPN tunnel. I'm a network administrator. 

What is most valuable?

The value of this solution for me is the protection from a single packet and ease of making security rules. It also doesn't require a special dedicated network team, I'm able to do it myself. It's a time saver for me and now in this pandemic period, users have access from home.  

What needs improvement?

I'd like to see some changes to the licensing policies and, on the technical side, improvement in scalability. It's not so easy to scale out your security capabilities. With the situation in business today, everybody lacks money and if you have to increase your resources and to constantly pay more for that, it becomes a problem. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for 10 years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's been 10 years and I don't remember any outages because of a hardware failure or a logical error in configuration. We had problems with servers or switches initially but it works like a charm now. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is the main disadvantage of Palo Alto. They call themselves a firewall with router capabilities but it's not a router and it requires a good bandwidth in VPN which could become a problem because you have to scale to really big hardware. We can solve the issue with other solutions, but for me the idea is to have less devices in your environment.
It's all about the hardware.  

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is quite good. A couple of months ago, I sent an email with an issue and we got an answer in 15-20 minutes. In my experience, Palo Alto support is one of the best, maybe the best support available.

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

We previously used Juniper which is currently called Net Screen. I also looked at Sonic Wall. We carried out a proof of concept five years ago and they had to decide whether to go with Palo Alto or another vendor. 

How was the initial setup?

For me, the initial setup is very easy. To get the device running with some capabilities but maybe not all security rules takes about an hour and it's the same for any upgrades. We have around 900 users and one admin person from our organization who deals with any issues. 

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

Palo Alto is an expensive solution, we currently have a three year contract. I'm not sure what our terms are. People always want cheaper, nobody wants to pay more. In our region, I think if Palo Alto was cheaper, more companies would buy the solution. 

What other advice do I have?

I would absolutely recommend this product, it's expensive but I trust it. There is always room for improvement such as with scalability capabilities in Palo Alto. I know I'm not the only one who thinks this is an issue. It's possible that next time we will try virtualized firewalls, it may be a little cheaper for us. We would consider switching to something else but it would be a big move and quite complicated. Moving to a different vendor is a whole other story.

I rate this solution a nine out of 10. 

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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