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Francesco-Molino
Practice Lead at IPConsul
Video Review
Real User
Very easy to filter in and out on east-west or north-south traffic

Pros and Cons

  • "The integration of network and workload micro-segmentation helps a lot to provide unified segmentation policies across east-west and north-south traffic. One concrete example is with Cisco ACI for the data center. Not only are we doing what is called a service graph on the ACI to make sure that we can filter traffic east-west between two endpoints in the same network, but when we go north-south or east-west, we can then leverage what we have on the network with SGTs on Cisco ISE. Once you build your matrix, it is very easy to filter in and out on east-west or north-south traffic."
  • "I would like to see improvement when you create policies on Snort 3 IPS on Cisco Firepower. On Snort 2, it was more like a UI page where you had some multiple choices where you could tweak your config. On Snort 3, the idea is more to build some rules on the text file or JSON file, then push it. So, I would like to see a lot of improvements here."

What is our primary use case?

We have multiple use cases for Cisco Firepower. We have two types of use cases:

  • Protect the perimeter of the enterprise.
  • Inter-VRF zoning and routing. 

The goal is to have some Firewall protection with a Layer 7 features, like URL filtering, IPS, malware at the perimeter level as well as inspecting the traffic going through that firewall, because all traffic is encrypted. We want visibility, ensuring that we can protect ourselves as much as we can.

In production, I am currently using Cisco Firepower version 6.7 with the latest patch, and we are starting to roll out version 7.0.

I have multiple customers who are running Cisco Firepower on-prem. Increasingly, customers are going through the cloud, using Cisco Firepower on AWS and Azure.

How has it helped my organization?

We are implementing Cisco Firepower at the Inter-VRF level so we can have some segmentation. For example, between ACI and all the Inter-VRF being done through Firepower, we are able to inspect local east-west traffic. It is great to use Cisco Firepower for segmentation, because on the Firepower, we now have a feature called VRF. So, you can also expand the VRF that you have locally on your network back to the firewall and do some more tweaking and segmentation. Whereas, everything was coming into a single bucket previously and you had to play around with some features to make sure that the leaking of the prefixes was not advertised. Now, we are really working towards segmentation in terms of routing in Firepower.

The integration of network and workload micro-segmentation helps a lot to provide unified segmentation policies across east-west and north-south traffic. One concrete example is with Cisco ACI for the data center. Not only are we doing what is called a service graph on the ACI to make sure that we can filter traffic east-west between two endpoints in the same network, but when we go north-south or east-west, we can then leverage what we have on the network with SGTs on Cisco ISE. Once you build your matrix, it is very easy to filter in and out on east-west or north-south traffic.

Since SecureX was released, this has been a big advantage for Cisco Firepower. You can give a tool to a customer to do some analysis, where before they were doing it manually. So, this is a very big advantage. 

What is most valuable?

The IPS is one of the top features that I love.

The dashboard of the Firepower Management Center (FMC) has improved. The UI has been updated to look like a 2021 UI, instead of what it was before. It is easy to use and navigate. In the beginning, the push of the config was very slow. Now, we are able to push away some conflicts very quickly. We are also getting new features with each release. For example, when you are applying something and have a bad configuration, then you can quickly roll back to when it was not there. So, there have been a lot of improvements in terms of UI and configuration.

What needs improvement?

We saw a lot of improvements on Cisco Firepower when Snort 3 came along. Before, with Snort 2, we were able to do some stuff, but the bandwidth was impacted. With Snort 3, we now have much better performance.

I would like to see improvement when you create policies on Snort 3 IPS on Cisco Firepower. On Snort 2, it was more like a UI page where you had some multiple choices where you could tweak your config. On Snort 3, the idea is more to build some rules on the text file or JSON file, then push it. So, I would like to see a lot of improvements here.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cisco Firepower for multiple years, around four to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of Firepower's stability, we had some issues with Snort 2 CPUs when using older versions in the past. However, since using version 6.4 until now, I haven't seen any big issues. We have had some issues, just like any other vendor, but not in terms of stability. We have had a few bugs, but stability is something that is rock-solid in terms of Firepower.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Cisco Firepower scalability is something that can be done easily if you respect the best practices and don't have any specific use cases. If I take the example of one of my customers moving to the cloud, there is one FMC and he is popping new Firepower devices on the cloud, just attaching them to the existing policy and knots. This is done in a few minutes. It is very easy to do.

How are customer service and support?

When you open a ticket with Cisco tech support for Cisco FMC, you can be quite confident. Right away, the engineer onboarding is someone skilled and can help you out very quickly and easily. This is something that is true 90% of the time. For sure, you always have 10% of the time where you are fighting to get the right guy. But, most of the time, the guy who does the onboarding can right away help you out.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup and implementation of Cisco Firepower is very easy. I am working with a lot more vendors of firewalls, and Cisco Firepower is one of the best today. It is one of the easiest to set up.

The minimum deployment time depends on really what you want to do. If you just want to initiate a quick setup with some IPS and have already deployed FMC, then it takes less than one hour. It is very easy. 

What takes more time is deploying the OVA of Cisco Firepower Management Center and doing all the cabling stuff. All the rest, it is very easy. 

If you are working without a Firepower Management Center and using Firepower Device Manager with Cisco on the cloud, then it is even easier. It is like the Meraki setup, where you just plug and play everything and everything will be connected to the cloud. It is very easy.

If you configure Cisco Firepower, it has to be based on Cisco's recommendations. You can view all the traffic and have full visibility in terms of applications, support, URL categorization, and inspect malware or whatever file is being exchanged. We also love to interconnect Cisco Firepower with some Cisco ISE appliances so we can do some kind of threat containment. If something is seen as a virus coming in from a user, we can directly tell Cisco ISE to block that user right away.

What about the implementation team?

I am working for a Cisco Professional Services Partner. We have only one guy deploying the devices. We don't require a big team to deploy it. In terms of configuration, it takes more people based on each person's skills because you have multiple areas: firewalls, IPS, knots, and routing. So, it depends on which skills will be required the most.

For maintenance on an average small to medium customer, it takes one to two people. When it is a big customer with multiple sites, you should have a small team of four to five people. This is because it is mostly not about creating the rules, but more about checking and analyzing the logs coming through Cisco Firepower Manager Center.

What was our ROI?

Whether Cisco Firepower reduces costs depends on the architecture that you are on. I had some of my customers answer, "Totally, yes," but for some of them that is not really true.

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

When we are fighting against other competitors for customers, whether it is a small or big business, we feel very comfortable with the price that Firepower has today.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have worked with Palo Alto, Fortinet, and Sophos. I work a lot more with Palo Alto and Cisco Firepower. I find them to be very easy in terms of management operations. Fortinet is also a vendor where we see the ease of use, but in terms of troubleshooting, it is more complex than Firepower and Palo Alto. Sophos is the hardest one for me to use.

I love the IPS more on the Cisco Firepower, where you can do more tweaking compared to the other solutions. Where I love Palo Alto and Fortinet more compared to Firepower is that you still have CLI access to some configs instead of going through the UI and pushing some configs. When you are in big trouble, sometimes the command line is easier to push a lot more configs than doing some clicks and pushing them through the UI.

Compared to the other vendors, Firepower requires more deep dive skills on the IPS stuff to make it work and ensure that you are protected. If you go with the basic one in the package, you will be protected, but not so much. So, you need to have more deep dive knowledge on the IPS to be sure that you can tweak it and you can protect yourself.

Another Cisco Firepower advantage would be the Talos database. That is a big advantage compared to other solutions.

In terms of threat defense, we have a feature of TLS 1.3 that is free where we can see applications without doing any SSL inspection, which can increase the performance of the firewall without doing some deep dive inspection. At the same time, we keep some visibility of what application is going through. Therefore, we have a win-win situation if one wants to protect against some specific applications.

What other advice do I have?

Do not just look at the data sheet that vendors are publishing. Sometimes, they make sense. But, in reality, these documents are made based on specific use cases. Just do a proof of concept and test every single feature. You will find out that Cisco Firepower is much better and more tweakable than other solutions.

When you start using Cisco Firepower Management Center, you need a few days to get used to it. Once you know all the menus, it is kind of easy to find your way out and analyze traffic, not only in terms of the firewall but also in terms of IPS or SSL decryption. Different users are split away who can help you to troubleshoot what you want to troubleshoot, not having everything in one view.

Today, the only use cases that we have for dynamic policies are leveraging the API on Cisco FMC to push some config or change the config. There isn't a feature built automatically on the FMC to build a new policy, so we are leveraging APIs.

I would rate Cisco Firepower between eight and nine. The only reason that I am not giving a full nine is because of the Snort 3 operations, where there is a need for improvement.

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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Maharajan S
CISO / Associate Vice President - IT Infrastructure at a pharma/biotech company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Gives us more visibility into the inbound/outbound traffic being managed

Pros and Cons

  • "Being able to determine our active users vs inactive users has led us to increased productivity through visibility. Also, if an issue was happening with our throughput, then we wouldn't know without research. Now, notifications are more proactively happening."
  • "The central management tool is not comfortable to use. You need to have a specific skill set. This is an important improvement for management because I would like to log into Firepower, see the dashboard, and generate a real-time report, then I question my team."

What is our primary use case?

We have an offshore development center with around 1,400 users (in one location) where we have deployed this firewall.

The maturity of our organization’s security implementation is a four out of five (with five being high). We do have NOC and SOC environments along with in-built access to our systems. 

We use Acunetix as one of our major tools. We do have some open source. There are a couple of networks where we are using the Tenable tool. We have implemented an SIEM along with a Kaspersky at the cloud level. In the Cisco firewall, we installed Kaspersky in the firewall logs which upload to Kaspersky for us to review back.

How has it helped my organization?

Being able to determine our active users vs inactive users has led us to increased productivity through visibility. Also, if an issue was happening with our throughput, then we wouldn't know without research. Now, notifications are more proactively happening.

What is most valuable?

The advance malware protection (AMP) is valuable because we didn't previously have this when we had an enterprise gateway. Depending on the end user, they could have EDR or antivirus. Now, we have enabled Cisco AMP, which give us more protection at the gateway level. 

The application visibility is also valuable. Previously, with each application, we would prepare and develop a report based on our knowledge. E.g., there are a couple business units using the SAS application, but we lacked visibility into the application layer and usage. We use to have to configure the IP or URL to give us information about usage. Now, we have visibility into concurrent SAS/Oracle sessions. This solution gives us more visibility into the inbound/outbound traffic being managed. This application visibility is something new for us and very effective because we are using Office 365 predominantly as our productivity tool. Therefore, when users are accessing any of the Office 365 apps, this is directly identified and we can see the usage pattern. It gives us more visibility into our operations, as I can see information in real-time on the dashboards.

What needs improvement?

The solution has positively affected our organization’s security posture. I would rate the effects as an eight (out of 10). There is still concern about the engagement between Cisco Firepower and Cisco ASA, which we have in other offices. We are missing the visibility between these two products.

We would like more application visibility and an anti-malware protection system, because we don't have this at the enterprise level.

The central management tool is not comfortable to use. You need to have a specific skill set. This is an important improvement for management because I would like to log into Firepower, see the dashboard, and generate a real-time report, then I question my team.

For how long have I used the solution?

Nearly a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, it has been stable.

We have around 32 people for maintenance. Our NOC team works 24/7. They are the team who manages the solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is one of our major business requirements. We are seeing 20 percent growth year-over-year. The plan is to keep this product for another four years.

How are customer service and technical support?

We contacted Cisco directly when issues happened during the implementation, e.g., the management console was hacked.

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

We used Fortinet and that product was coming to end of life. We had been using it continuously for seven years, then we started to experience maintenance issues.

Also, we previously struggled to determine who were all our active users, especially since many were VPN users. We would have to manually determine who was an inactive user, where now the process is more automated. It also had difficult handling our load.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. We engaged NTT Dimension Data as there were a couple things that needed to be done for our requirements and validation. This took time to get signed off on by quality team. However, the configuration/implementation of the system did not take much time. It was a vanilla implementation.

We did face performance issues with the console during implementation. The console was hacked and we needed to reinstall the console in the virtual environment. 

What about the implementation team?

We were engaged with a local vendor, NTT Dimension Data, who is a Cisco partner. They were more involved on the implementation and migration of the firewall. Some channels were reconfigured, along with some URL filtering and other policies that we used for configuration or migration to the new server.

Our experience with NTT Dimension Data has been good. We have been using them these past four to five years.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. Our productivity has increased.

The change to Cisco Firepower has reduced the time it takes for our network guy to generate our monthly report. It use to take him many hours where he can now have it done in an hour.

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

Cisco pricing is premium. However, they gave us a 50 to 60 percent discount.

There are additional implementation and validation costs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated Check Point, Palo Alto, Sophos, and Cisco ASA. In the beginning, we thought about going for Cisco ASA but were told that Firepower was the newest solution. We met with Cisco and they told us that they were giving more attention going forward to Firepower than the ASA product.

We did a small POC running in parallel with Fortinet. We evaluated reports, capability, and the people involved. Palo Alto was one of the closest competitors because they have threat intelligence report in their dashboard. However, we decided not to go with Palo Alto because of the price and support.

What other advice do I have?

We are using Cisco at a global level. We have internally integrated this solution with Cisco Unified Communications Manager in a master and slave type of environment that we built. It uses a country code for each extension. Also, there is Jabber, which our laptop users utilize when connecting from home. They call through Jabber to connect with customers. Another tool that we use is Cisco Meraki. This is our all time favorite product for the office WiFi environment. However, we are not currently integrating our entire stack because then we would have to change everything. We may integrate the Cisco stack in the future. It should not be difficult to integrate since everything is a Cisco product. The only issue may be compliance since we have offices in the US and Europe.

We are now using a NGFW which helps us deep dive versus using a normal firewall.

Overall, I would rate Cisco Firepower as an eight (out of 10).

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: December 2021.
555,139 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Henry Pan
Technical Consulting Manager at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5
Provides us with application visibility and control and has improved our clients' end to end firewall functionality

Pros and Cons

  • "Firepower has been used for quite a few enterprise clients. Most of our clients are Fortune 500 and Firepower is used to improve their end to end firewall functionality."
  • "The intelligence has room for improvement. There are some hackers that we haven't seen before and its ability to detect those types of attacks needs to be improved."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is to improve network security. 

The maturity of our company's security implementation depends on our clients. Some of our clients really need a lot of work but some of them are advantaged. We are major implementors for Cisco. 

We implement it for our clients and we also use it internally. Our security maturity is advanced. We have been in IT business for over 75 years. We have major netowrk firewall experts in the company, so we know what to do. 

Our company uses more than thirty security tools. Ideally, we would use an end to end unified tool. But network security is far from that so we need to use multiple tools. 

How has it helped my organization?

Firepower has been used for quite a few enterprise clients. Most of our clients are Fortune 500 and Firepower is used to improve their end to end firewall functionality. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the intelligence. It sends a warning for a potential attack, a zero-day attack. It sends us an advanced warning. We really like this feature. 

We use other Cisco tools for switches, routers, and AppDynamics. We also use their wireless tool. We are Cisco's biggest partner, so we use the majority of their solutions. This is one of the reasons people become a Cisco-shop, because of the integration. 

The integration between these products isn't perfect. 

Firepower provides us with application visibility and control. We have a standard evaluation procedure with around 136 criteria. We have a team that does the evaluation and there were viruses reported.

In terms of its ability to provide visibility into threats, we put a different application to be tested. We check how much we can see. What kind of network traffic goes through different devices. We know what's going on. If something went wrong, we see the attack, we know where and which attack. We put it into our testing center. You can never get 100% visibility. Sometimes we can't detect until the damage is done. That is the danger of being in the firewall business. You never know what kinds of tricks a hacker will use. It's endless work.

Talos is pretty decent. It offers smart intelligence. It helps my team detect what is going on. Without it, the ability of the power stations would be much less. Talos is one of the reasons that we go with Cisco. It is a big advantage.

We use automated policy application and enforcement. Any of the networks are very complex. It has freed up a lot of our time. Now, it's much better but it's still far from enough. We have saved 90% of our time due to the automation. 

Firepower has improved our enterprise defense ability by a lot. 

We use the whole suite of Cisco device management options. Compared to ten years ago, I have seen a lot of improvement, but it's still far from enough. I wish the intelligence will be improved. There is a big learning curve now. If a new gear comes into place, then the first three months aren't so accurate. With machine learning, it is getting better. The intelligence should be there from day one. But it will still need to learn the environment and which attack is the most common.

We are still trying to figure out the best practices for harmonizing policies and enforcement across heterogeneous networks. It's something new. More and more applications are going onto the cloud and we need the hybrid Firepower ability. 

What needs improvement?

The intelligence has room for improvement. There are some hackers that we haven't seen before and its ability to detect those types of attacks needs to be improved.

There is a bit of an overlap in their offerings. Which causes clients to overpay for whatever they end up selecting. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Firepower for 3 years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I see a lot of improvement in terms of stability but it's still not 100%. We still have bugs and things will go wrong that will cause the system to not function and we will have to reboot and restart. That is something that Cisco should fix. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is reasonable and okay. 

One of the clients we have has 21,000,000 node. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We use their support a lot. In my view, they need a lot of improvement. A lot of the representatives are far away and they don't have a lot of knowledge. You need to get to level two or three for them to be able to help. My team is very experienced so it takes a lot for us to make a call to technical support. We need to talk to the right person to work out the issue. The support structure is not able to reach the right level right away. This is a problem that Cisco needs to work a lot to improve one. 

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

We also use Palo Alto, Check Point, Fortinet, Juniper, and Microsoft. 

Cisco came into firewalls much later. I would say they're top ten but they're not number one yet. They need to do more work. Cisco does better than the smaller players. 

The best firewall option is Palo Alto. 

Considering the expertise and the way they detect an advanced attack, Palo Alto is better than Cisco. 

How was the initial setup?

Compared to many years ago, the configuration is much more simplified. It is still not one button to get it all done. It's not easy enough. It hasn't reached the level where a junior staff member can get the job done. 

For my enterprise environment, the deployment goes wave by wave. It can take six to eight weeks. We do a rolling upgrade. It's not something that can be done in one action because the network is so huge and complex. 

We have a uniform implementation strategy. We have a standard upgrading proceeding. We do testing and verify and then we put it into production.  

What about the implementation team?

We are the integrators and consultant team. 

What was our ROI?

18 months

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

Be careful

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes

What other advice do I have?

Get your homework done. Get to know in-depth what Cisco can do and compare it with Palo Alto. If you're happy with Cisco, go for it but Palo Alto is the safer choice. 

I would rate it an eight out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PM
Network Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Protects your system against threats and advanced malware

Pros and Cons

  • "If configured, Firepower provides us with application visibility and control."
  • "FirePOWER does a good job when it comes to providing us with visibility into threats, but I would like to see a more proactive stance to it."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for the actual firewall and also site-to-site VPN.

Our company is always growing. Every day's a new day and there is always something new to learn. We are a mature organization, but we can never sit still. We have two company locations and we use Cisco Firepower as our main firewall at both locations.

Overall, for security, we use about seven tools.

Within our company, there are just two people that maintain this solution. Myself and the IT manager. I'm the network administrator.

How has it helped my organization?

We were the subject of a ransomware attack a little over a year ago. Due to our console, we're able to easily see where the threat came from, all the while being able to shut down the network but maintain our network on the other side — or the other side of the site-to-site VPN. Then we could fix what we needed to be fixed here, and then subsequently correct the issues on the other side.

What is most valuable?

The manageability through the FMC is superb. I have a single dashboard that I can manage my firewalls from. I can see and manage all of my objects and control all my policies. I can look at all my logs and control my whole network from one dashboard.

What needs improvement?

FirePOWER does a good job when it comes to providing us with visibility into threats, but I would like to see a more proactive stance to it. Maybe more of an IDS approach. I don't know a better way to say it, but more of a heavier proactive approach rather than a reactive one.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have had little to no issues except with the first version that we had. There was a known issue with Cisco in the first version. When I went to do a restore, there was a known issue with something with the Linux kernel. It took us about two weeks to get the restore working. It was a scary moment for us, but we worked through it, and ever since we've had no issues, stability-wise.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have contacted support multiple times and I have no problems with them. I think they do the best with what they have — especially with the pandemic this year. I think they've done everything they can do with what they have. They don't stop. They don't give up until the issue is resolved. They're really good with following-up too, making sure that the issue hasn't come back.

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

We have another product that monitors all traffic. It just sits back and idols in the background — It integrates, but it doesn't if you know what I mean. It's a separate dashboard, but it alerts us. We can control the security — level zero through one hundred. If a threat registers above 54% (we have the limit set at 51) it alerts us. If it's a specific threat, it can shut down services, ports, machines, authentication, and so on and so forth.

We also use AMP, Umbrella, SecureX, and Duo. They're pretty easy to integrate. I wouldn't say beginner level, but if you have a working knowledge of networks and security, you can easily get them integrated. Also, if you need help, Cisco's always there to assist.

We use Firepower Management Center — it's a wonderful tool. It has an awesome all-in-one pane of glass dashboard so you can manage multiple devices from one dashboard. It's also very easy to set up.

We used to use SonicWall. Cisco was purchased right before I came on board, but from my knowledge, we had issues with the licensing of SonicWall. We are a Cisco shop. Both my manager and I prefer Cisco over other vendors. We have more experience with Cisco and their customer support and the products themselves are just better in our experience.

How was the initial setup?

The deployment was with all new networks, so the architecture was with a peer. We first sat down and discussed or laid out our network and what it would look like through IP schemes and everything else in that sense. We then figured out how many users we would have and decide what size of hardware we would need. We decided on what type of VPN connection and what certificates we would need. After that, once we were able to secure those tunnels and get communication going between our two locations, we then started tightening down our two networks as we have multiple networks within each location.

We had to decide what all needed to communicate with one another. Not every network needed to touch the outside world.

What about the implementation team?

From start to finish, including production rollout for other areas, deployment took roughly one month. We did it all in-house.

Some maintenance is required involving security patches. Cisco is really good at deploying those or not deploying those, but putting those out and having release notes and upgrade paths and just the information behind all of their patches. Cisco does a really good job with that.

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

With any solution from anybody, I always think that licensing is a little high — but it's comparable to other companies. It definitely competes with the other vendors in the market.

What other advice do I have?

If configured, Firepower provides us with application visibility and control.

The ability to futureproof our security strategy is definitely there. There are a lot of functions that we don't yet use. When I say we don't use a function, I mean that the functionality or the ability is not turned on yet simply because we have not gotten around to it. The ability is there, the capability is there. That also goes into the reasoning behind why we chose it.

Do your research, know your skillset, be comfortable with your skillset, and don't be afraid to challenge yourself.

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give this solution a rating of eight.

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.
DC
Senior Network Security Engineer at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
Its Snort 3 IPS gives us flexibility and more granular control of access

Pros and Cons

  • "Its Snort 3 IPS has better flexibility as far as being able to write rules. This gives me better granularity."
  • "I would like it to have faster deployment times. A typical deployment could take two to three minutes. Sometimes, it depends on the situation. It is better than it was in the past, but it could always use improvement."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for firewall and intrusion prevention.

I have deployed it into different environments: retail, commercial, law, real estate, and the public sector. Retail is the biggest environment that I have deployed this firewall into, with 43 different sensors and a range up to 10 GbE throughput.

I am using up to version 7.0 across the board as well as multiple models: 1000 Series or 2100 Series.

How has it helped my organization?

The integration of network and workload micro-segmentation help us provide unified segmentation policies across east-west and north-south traffic. It is important to have that visibility. If you can't detect it, then you can't protect it. That is the bottom line.

The solution has enabled us to implement dynamic policies for dynamic environments. These are important because they give us flexibility and more granular control of access.

What is most valuable?

  • Ease of operability
  • Security protection

It is usually a central gateway into an organization. Trying to keep it as secure as possible and have easy to use operability is always good. That way, you can manage the device.

The solution has very good visibility when doing deep packet inspection. It's great because I can get packet captures out of the device. Because if an intrusion fires, I can see the packet that it fired in. So, I can dive into it and look at what is going on, what fired it, or what caused it.

Cisco Secure Firewall is fine and works when it comes to integration of network and workload micro-segmentation. 

The integration of network and workload micro-segmentation is very good when it comes to visibility in our environment. It is about how you set it up and the options that you set it up for, e.g., you can be as detailed as you like or not at all, which is good.

Its Snort 3 IPS has better flexibility as far as being able to write rules. This gives me better granularity.

What needs improvement?

It needs better patching and testing as well as less bugs. That would be nice.

I would like it to have faster deployment times. A typical deployment could take two to three minutes. Sometimes, it depends on the situation. It is better than it was in the past, but it could always use improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been good so far. It has been much better than in the past. In the past, there were times where there were known issues or bugs.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability has been fine. I haven't had an issue with it. I just haven't had a need to deal with scalability yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate Cisco's support for this solution as nine out of 10 for this solution. The support has been very good. We got the job done. Sometimes, why it wasn't perfect, the challenge was getting a hold of someone.

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

I have used this solution to replace different vendors, usually Cisco ASA that is reaching end of life.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward for me at this point. That is just because of the experience that I have in dealing with it. for a new person, it would be a little bit more complex. They have gotten better with some of the wizards. However, if you are not familiar with it, then that makes it a little more challenging.

What about the implementation team?

Depending on the situation, we will go through the typical setups. We know what we want to configure and sort of follow a template.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI with a better, more secure environment. 

Cisco Secure Firewall has helped us to reduce our firewall operational costs. This is based on the fact that the newer models, where we have been replacing older models, have better throughput, capacity, and performance overall.

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

Pricing is the same as other competitors. It is comparable. The licensing has gotten better. It has been easier with Smart Licensing.

There are additional costs, but that depends on the feature sets that you get. However, that is the same with any firewall vendor at this point.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have also worked with Check Point and Palo Alto. The support is much better with Cisco than Check Point. Check Point had a little bit better of a central management station. Whereas, Cisco with the FMC is a little different as far as there are still some features that are being added to the FMC, which is good. As far as Palo Alto goes, they are quite comparable as far as their functionality and feature sets. Cisco wins for me because it has Snort, which is a known standard for IPS, which is good. Also, Cisco has the Talos group, which is the largest group out there for security hunting.

Check Point was the easiest as far as user-friendliness and its GUI. After that, Cisco and Palo Alto would be kind of tied for ease of use.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely do your research, e.g., how you want to set it up and how deep you want to go in with it. This will actually help you more. When we say Cisco Secure Firewall, is it Next-Generation, running ASA, or running Firepower? Or, does Meraki actually fit in there? So, there are different scales based on what you are trying to look for and how deep security-wise you want to go into it.

SecureX is a nice feature, but it has to be for the right environment. It is nice that we get it, but most people don't take advantage of it.

The dynamic policy capabilities can enable tight integration with Secure Workload at the application workload level, but I am not using much with Secure Workload at this point.

I would rate Cisco Secure Firewall as nine out of 10. I would not give it a 10 because of bugs.

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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Alexander Mumladze
Network Engineer at LEPL Smart Logic
Real User
Top 5
Good protection and filtering capabilities, and everything can be easily done through the web user interface

Pros and Cons

  • "I have experience with URL filtering, and it is very good for URL filtering. You can filter URLs based on the categories, and it does a good job. It can also do deep packet inspection."
  • "When you make any changes, irrespective of whether they are big or small, Firepower takes too much time. It is very time-consuming. Even for small changes, you have to wait for 60 seconds or maybe more, which is not good. Similarly, when you have many IPS rules and policies, it slows down, and there is an impact on its performance."

What is our primary use case?

They were placed in a company on the perimeter near the ISP. There were two clusters. One cluster was at the front, and one cluster was near the data center to filter the traffic from the users to the data center and from the data center to the users and outside.

How has it helped my organization?

Our clients were completely satisfied with this firewall in terms of protection from attacks, filtering of the traffic that they wanted, being able to see inside the zip files, etc.

What is most valuable?

I have experience with URL filtering, and it is very good for URL filtering. You can filter URLs based on the categories, and it does a good job. It can also do deep packet inspection.

Its IPS engine also works very fine. I don't have much experience with it because I am an IT integrator, and we only configured it, but the company for which we configured these firewalls used this feature, and they say that IPS works very fine. They were also very pleased with its reporting. They said that its reporting is better than other firewalls they have had.

What needs improvement?

When you make any changes, irrespective of whether they are big or small, Firepower takes too much time. It is very time-consuming. Even for small changes, you have to wait for 60 seconds or maybe more, which is not good. Similarly, when you have many IPS rules and policies, it slows down, and there is an impact on its performance.

In terms of tracking users, the Palo Alto Networks firewall is better than Cisco Firepower.

For how long have I used the solution?


What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable because it is based on the Cisco ASA Firewall hardware, which is an old-generation firewall. I have had Cisco ASA Firewall for more than 10 years, and they have been working fine till now. So, Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall's performance and stability are the best. I have never seen any issues or heard from anyone that it is bad.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is very good. It was a small implementation. Traffic was maximum of 150 megabits per second. 

How are customer service and support?

I haven't worked with Cisco support.

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

I have had experience with the Fortinet FortiGate firewall. It is very easy, and it does its job very well. Both Firepower and FortiGate do their job very well, but I like the Palo Alto Networks firewall the most. I have not experienced it in a real environment. I have placed it in my lab. It is a very complex firewall, and you need to know how to configure it, but it is the best firewall that I have seen in my life.

As compare to the Palo Alto Networks firewall, both Firepower and FortiGate are simpler. You can just learn which button to use and how to write rules, policies, etc. In Palo Alto, you can not guess this. You should know where each button is, how it works, and what it does. If you don't know, you cannot get the performance you want from Palo Alto. So, Firepower and FortiGate are easier to learn.

Firepower is very good for a small implementation. If you are doing a Cisco setup, you can place kind of 16 devices in one cluster. When it comes to the real environment, you need to have maybe three devices in one cluster. If two of them are in one data center and the third one is in another data center, the third firewall does not work very well when it comes to traffic flow because of the MAC address. When you want to implement Firepower in small infrastructures, it is very good, but in big infrastructures, you would have some problems with it. So, I won't use it in a large environment with five gigabits per second traffic. I will use the Palo Alto firewall for a large environment.

How was the initial setup?

It is straightforward. For me, it is very simple. The menu is quite impressive. Everything that you want to do can be done from the web user interface. You don't need to access the CLI if you don't like it. It is very easy to make rules with its web user interface.

Its deployment took two days. In terms of the implementation strategy, the first cluster was in the data center, and its main job was to filter user traffic going to the data center. The second cluster was on the edge. Its main job was to mitigate attacks on the inside network and to capture the traffic that could have viruses, malicious activities, etc.

What about the implementation team?

I deployed it myself, and it took me two days to deploy two clusters of Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall. 

What was our ROI?

I think our client did get an ROI. They are very satisfied with what they can do with these firewalls. It fits all of their needs.

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

Its price is in the middle range. Both Firepower and FortiGate are not cheap. Palo Alto and Check Point are the cheapest ones.

I don't remember any costs in addition to the standard licensing fees.

What other advice do I have?

Our client didn't implement dynamic policies for dynamic environments because they were a small company, and they didn't need that kind of segmentation. I am not sure if it reduced their firewall operational costs because they were a small company, and the traffic was not so high.

I would rate Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall an eight out of 10.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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JJ
Network Engineer at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Enables us to create policies based on who is accessing a resource instead of just IP addresses but the UI needs improvement

Pros and Cons

  • "Another benefit has been user integration. We try to integrate our policies so that we can create policies based on active users. We can create policies based on who is accessing a resource instead of just IP addresses and ports."
  • "It's mainly the UI and the management parts that need improvement. The most impactful feature when you're using it is the user interface and the user experience."

How has it helped my organization?

I can't put Cisco on the firewall when the security landscape has changed so much in the past five to ten years. We are doing a lot more in the next generation of firewalls. We had a legacy classic firewall before we went to Firepower, and we spent a lot less time on that firewall, but we are spending more time on the Firepower because we are utilizing a lot of the features that are available in Firepower that were not available in the previous firewall that we had. I'm not going to say that we're spending less time, but we're gaining more value.

Another benefit has been user integration. We try to integrate our policies so that we can create policies based on active users. We can create policies based on who is accessing a resource instead of just IP addresses and ports.

What is most valuable?

If I were to have been asked a few weeks ago, I would have said threat prevention was the most valuable feature, but the world is changing a lot, so my favorite features a few years ago might not be my favorite features today.

What needs improvement?

The visibility the solution gives when doing deep packet inspection can be complex. I really like the visibility, but it's not always intuitive to use. I also help other customers. We are a contracting company that implements their solutions, and I've found that it's not always easy to get everyone to utilize some of the visibility features. But for me personally, I think they're very valuable. 

The ease of use when it comes to managing Cisco Firepower has a lot of room for improvement. When monitoring a large set of firewall policies, the user interface could be lighter. It's sometimes heavy in use, and there could be improvements there. I know they're trying to make improvements.

It's mainly the UI and the management parts that need improvement. The most impactful feature when you're using it is the user interface and the user experience.

For how long have I used the solution?

We were an early adopter when Firepower first came out. I've been using Cisco firewalls for the last two decades.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For newer hardware models, the stability is good. We've tried to run Firepower on some of the legacy-supported hardware as well, but with the stability issues, they are not as good. If I were to judge based on the hardware that I have, I'd say it's good. I haven't had any issues with the stability on my platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We just recently enabled Snort 3 so I'm evaluating the functionality. That's what we've considered, but we haven't done any performance testing. Our company would qualify as a small to medium business company. The average office environment is about 100 to 200 people. Performance-wise, my company is about 120 people.

Scalability is really not relevant. I know there are features that address some of those parts, like clustering and stuff, but that's really not applicable in my use cases.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is eight to nine out of ten. You can't blame them for any faults of the prototypes, but the support has been really good and really helpful when we had any issues.

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

I have hands-on experience in both Fortinet and Palo Alto. So if I were to compare this to Palo Alto, for example, I would say that the user interface in Palo Alto is a lot better. But the reason that I'm working with Firepower is that we have a Cisco network as well, and Cisco ISE. We're trying to integrate different Cisco solutions. We're trying to utilize the ecosystem benefits where I can connect my Cisco Firepower to ISE and have it talk to the App Cloud. There's a benefit of utilizing Cisco Firepower in conjunction with our other Cisco solutions.

Ease of management is similar with Cisco and Fortinet, I would say similar, but it's easier in Palo Alto.

How was the initial setup?

I recently deployed a similar solution at a customer's premises, and that setup was straightforward.

The steps are fairly documented and the documentation and guides on Cisco are straightforward. You know what you're expected to configure, and it's easy to get up, running, and started. It takes some more time to check everything and get everything as you want to have it, but getting started and getting connectivity and starting to create policies was easy to do and didn't take a very long time.

It took two to four hours, including some upgrades.

What other advice do I have?

My main advice would be to utilize all the guides and documentation available from Cisco publicly and not trying to implement it using legacy thinking. Don't try to just replace something else you have. If you have a next-gen firewall, you want to try to utilize what you're getting, and getting the most out of a firewall. There are some great guides and documentation on Cisco that explains what you can do and how you can do it.

I would rate it a seven out of ten. 

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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Zhulien Keremedchiev
Lead Network Security Engineer at TechnoCore LTD
Real User
Top 20
Good evaluation period, support, and it has a powerful intrusion policy

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature that Cisco Firepower NGFW provides for us is the Intrusion policy."
  • "I believe that the current feature set of the device is very good and the only thing that Cisco should work on is improving the user experience with the device."

What is our primary use case?

My primary use case with Cisco Firepower NGFW is implementing, configuring, maintaining, and troubleshooting lab and customer devices in both lab and production environments.

Using best practices for configuration, as well as fine-tuning intrusion policies and utilizing as many of the features that the firewall has to offer, which are feasible in said environment.

Overall, I am confident to say that I have worked with every flavor of Cisco Firepower NGFW, be it their older IPS-only sensors, ASA with Firepower services, as well as the FTD sensor itself.

How has it helped my organization?

Cisco Firepower NGFW has improved our organization by giving us the opportunity to protect both our network and our customer's environments. Being able to work with the device in a lab environment and utilizing the whole feature set is really easy with the Evaluation licenses of 90 days on the FMC. The only thing that you need is an environment with enough resources to virtualize both the FMC and FTD sensors.

I would like to emphasize the easy-to-use evaluation period of the Cisco Firepower NGFW because many other firewall vendors lack this and it is a real pain having to test everything in production environments because you cannot build a good lab environment without paying for licenses.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature that Cisco Firepower NGFW provides for us is the Intrusion policy. 

Again, with that being said, I cannot shy away from giving kudos to all of the other features such as AVC (Application Visibility and Control), SSL Decryption, Identity policy, Correlation policy, REST API, and more.

All of the features that are incorporated in the Cisco Firepower NGFW are awesome and easy to configure if you know what you are doing. Things almost always work, unless you hit a bug, which is fixed with a simple software update.

What needs improvement?

I believe that the current feature set of the device is very good and the only thing that Cisco should work on is improving the user experience with the device. 

Also, they need to ensure that all of the implemented features are working as they should, and able to integrate with more third-party software in an easier manner.

As it stands currently, Cisco is doing this, but I am not confident enough to say that their QA team is doing as good a job as they should as there have been software releases that were immediately pulled back the same day as they were released.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Cisco NGFW for almost five years as of 2020.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have seen devices working without any issues and/or without a reboot of the device for many years (although I do not recommend this) running on base versions of the software, and I have seen an out-of-the-box fresh install having many stability issues. However, overall my impression is that the most recent software versions are very stable without any evident underlying issues.

Keep your software up-to-date and the solution should be stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Cisco Firepower NGFW has a large variety of devices that are able to accommodate every company's needs, be they small or large. Overall, the scalability of the devices is very good.

How are customer service and technical support?

Experience with Cisco TAC has been awesome almost always. The SLAs are kept every time, which is very hard to get from any of the other firewall vendors. I have not seen any other vendor get you a proficient engineer on the phone within 15 minutes.

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

Cisco ASA and Firepower NGFW is the first firewall solution that I have and am still using.

How was the initial setup?

Once you deploy a few of these devices, the initial setup is really straightforward and easy to do unless the position of the firewall on the network needs you to do some connectivity magic in order for it to work.

What about the implementation team?

All of the implementations that we have done are with in-house teams, so I have no overview of the vendor team.

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

Cisco, as we all know, is expensive, but for the money you are paying, you know that you are also getting top-notch documentation as well as support if needed. In some cases, this may save you a lot of money or stress, which is why everyone who uses Cisco solutions loves them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have worked with many other firewall vendors in both production and lab environments such as CheckPoint, Palo Alto, Fortinet, Juniper, but to be honest I find Cisco's firewall solutions and Palo Alto's firewall solution to be the best.

What other advice do I have?

I believe that Cisco Firepower NGFW is the future leader in NGFW, with only maybe Palo Alto being the main competitor. This is very good, as we all know that having a rival is good for us, the users :) 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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