WatchGuard Firebox Review

Allows us to self-manage our network and branch office VPNs while saving money


What is our primary use case?

We use it for our firewall as well as for our branch office VPNs.

How has it helped my organization?

The WatchGuard devices allow us to self-manage our network and our branch office VPNs. As a result, we've saved ourselves a lot of money, without compromising our security. It provides a much more economical and effective solution. We used to have an MPLS network which was a cloud-based firewall system and it cost us a small fortune every month. But when we implemented all these firewalls and got it all configured, up and running, we literally saved ourselves $10,000 a month.

It makes managing the network a lot easier. It takes care of our network for us.

Once it was set up and running, it began to save us time. It works, and we spend very little time managing it. We have very few issues with it. We might spend an hour a month managing it, if that.

What is most valuable?

The firewall aspect and the branch office VPNs are the most valuable features. They just plain work. We don't have any issues with it. We don't have to spend a lot of time maintaining it. You set it up and, for the most part, you can forget about it.

In terms of the usability:

  • It's user-friendly with an easy user interface.
  • It has a lot of features.

The throughput the solution provides is good.

In addition, WatchGuard provides our business with layered security. It certainly protects our network, blocks unwanted incoming traffic and, at the same time, can manage outbound traffic too.

What needs improvement?

We use WatchGuard to manage our failover for internet. If a primary internet goes down, it does a failover to the secondary the internet. However, what it doesn't do so well is that if the primary internet has a lot of latency but it's not completely down, it doesn't do a failover to the backup in a timely manner.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using WatchGuard for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is great. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We don't really have any experience with the scalability. We implemented the appropriate devices for our size and we haven't really grown to the point that we've had to upgrade devices. The scalability is fine in the sense that we have some locations with more people, and WatchGuard has a slightly beefier device than we use at some of our smaller locations. All in all, it works well.

All of our networks are managed by WatchGuard. If we add locations we'll be using it for them as well in the future, although we don't have new locations on the horizon. We use it every day because it manages our network. Because all of our network traffic runs through WatchGuard, everybody uses it. But they're not using it for a specific function, other than to communicate between locations.

How are customer service and technical support?

The customer service is good. If we have an occasional issue there are helpful. They help us resolve problems. Overall, I'm pleased.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We had a third-party MPLS network that managed all of the cloud-based software but it was very expensive. It was similar in effect, but it was a third-party, as opposed to WatchGuard which is self-managed. The main reason we switched was the pricing.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was a little complex. But once we understood how it works and after we got the first one configured, the rest of the firewalls were pretty easy. It is pretty straightforward. It is just a matter of learning it initially: understanding the nuances of the application and the user interface, understanding how to set it up and understanding what does what and the naming of features. That initial learning curve was a little steep, but once we got into it, it made a lot of sense.

Company-wide, our deployment took about 30 days.

Our initial implementation strategy was to do a backup to the internet and ultimately remove our MPLS and use the branch office VPN to manage it ourselves.

What about the implementation team?

We were helped by an authorized WatchGuard reseller on the initial setup. Once we got through the first one, we took over from them internally. The reseller was NetSmart. Our overall experience with them was very good.

We still have a relationship with them. We do a lot of our stuff in-house, but if we have something that we need a little bit of help with, we do reach out to them from time to time. But doing so, for us, is pretty rare at this point.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen return on investment. We saved a small fortune switching over. It paid for itself, literally, within the first couple months.

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

When we bought them we got a three-year license for each device. The two larger devices are about $1,000 each and the smaller ones are about $500 or $600 each. 

There are some additional software features that you can add on and pay for, but we don't use them. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't evaluate other options. The WatchGuard reseller was a company we had done business with before and they recommended it right out of the gate. We went with that.

What other advice do I have?

It's worth it, depending on your current network environment. If you are in the same situation we were in, it's really a no-brainer going from the MPLS network to self-managing it with simple broadband internet. It works great. To be honest, you'd be crazy not to do it. The advantages of WatchGuard over MPLS are that it's cheaper and you have more control because it's self-managed. The only con is that it does require a little bit of maintenance that you wouldn't otherwise have to do, but it's minimal.

In terms of distributed locations, we have a firewall at all of our locations. Once we got it set up we'd visit a branch, install it, test it, and implement it.

As for maintenance, it requires just one person, a network administrator. We manage it ourselves and there's not a whole lot to it.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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