Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls Review

Great at threat prevention and has good policy-based routing features

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution as a firewall. We use it for VPN setup, threat protection, and for internet breakout also. We actually deploy several different versions. We have a TA200, a PA820, and a PA3200 series.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the threat prevention and policy-based routing features. 

What needs improvement?

I think they need to have a proper hardware version for a smaller enterprise. We had to go to a very high-end version which is very expensive. If we chose the lower-end version, it would not meet our goals. A middle-end is missing in its portfolio.

For example, there's the PA820 and the PA220, but there's nothing between. So they are really missing some kind of small-size or medium-size usage. Right now, you have to choose either a big one or you have a very small one, which is not really good.

In the next release, it would be helpful if there was some kind of a visualized feature that showed the traffic flow, or something like that, to be able to simulate. When we define something if we could see a simulation of how the flow will be treated that would be great. Because today everything is done by experts by checking logs, but it's very time-consuming. If there's also a simulator to use when you apply some configuration, you can also apply on the simulator, to copy the configuration. So, you can see maybe to generate some traffic and to see how it will be treated. That will be very good.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is pretty stable. Once you have it configured, normally it shouldn't have any issues. It does sometimes impact the metric flow, but that's natural because it filters everything going through, so it slows down the speed.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I don't think that product is really scalable. You have to either replace it with a higher version or use what you have. I think that's the only way. You cannot add something to increase its capacity, so you have to replace the current equipment to a new version or a new, higher version.

How are customer service and technical support?

For technical support, we have a contract with some local suppliers. It depends on our partner, so it's probably different from location to location, but as long as they are certified with Palo Alto, normally they should have a one or two experts in their organization. So you just need to find a good person to work with.

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

We did previously have a different kind of a firewall. We used Check Point before. We also used NetScreen and Cisco. But in the end, we defined our standard and now use Palo Alto.

How was the initial setup?

Firewalls are never easy. You have to have very good network expertise to set it up, so it's not about the product being easy to use or not. It's because of the nature of the firewall. You have to understand how it works, how it should be set up, and to understand your data flows and things like that. 

I'm not really the person who does the hands-on setup and integration. I'm the guy who monitors the global deployment. I'm in charge of defining the standard, to deploy the standard to the site, but there's an operational team to do the final installation, configuration, and those types of things.

On the one side, it will take maybe two or three days to enable the firewall, but if you are talking about the global deployment, that depends on the budget, and the resources that will take different time periods to deploy worldwide, so we are still not finished for all the locations. So we are still doing it.

Globally we have around 100 locations. We have two major network engineers who manage the firewall, but to deploy it you also need a local IT because they have to physically be on site. And the two experts remotely control the equipment, configuration, and upgrades, etc. So it's very hard to say how many people you need. It depends on your company size and where your locations are based. For us, we have two dedicated people, but we also have the local IT when we need them to physically help in the integration. 

What about the implementation team?

We do use external partners for the setup. We use also our internal teams as well.

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

It's a bit pricey.

What other advice do I have?

Once you install it, you use it every day. You can't stop because it's a security feature and a precaution. Also, we are using it to do some local breakouts, so we use utilize the local internet to carry some business traffic, to ensure there's no interruption. You have to let it run 24/7.

I would suggest you be careful when choosing your model. Consider your bandwidth as well as how you want to run the local area network because the throughput of the firewall has to be well designed.

I would rate this solution a nine out of10.

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