IT Central Station is now PeerSpot: Here's why
Francesco-Molino - PeerSpot reviewer
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.

Buyer's Guide
Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
August 2022
Learn what your peers think about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: August 2022.
622,063 professionals have used our research since 2012.

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: PeerSpot 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
PeerSpot user
AlexEng - PeerSpot reviewer
Systems Engineer at a healthcare company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Defends the perimeter, and new Management Center web interface is great
Pros and Cons
  • "IPS and Snort are very important because they also differentiate Cisco from other vendors and competitors."
  • "A major area of improvement would be to have more functionality in public clouds, especially in terms of simplifying it. The high availability doesn't work right now because of the limitations in the cloud."

What is our primary use case?

For our customers, Firepower is a classic perimeter firewall. Sometimes it's also for branch connections, but for those cases, we prefer Meraki because it's simpler. If a customer has Meraki and requires advanced security features, we will offer Firepower as a perimeter solution for them. Meraki is for SD-WAN and Firepower is for the perimeter.

Firewalls are not a new technology but they have a very distinct role in an enterprise for defending the perimeter. Firepower is for organizations that have traditional infrastructures, rather than those that are heavily utilizing cloud services. For us, the clients are government agencies and ministries, and we have a lot of them as our customers in Latvia.

What is most valuable?

Most firewalls do the same things, more or less. Because we have to compete with other vendors, it's the things that are different that are important. With Cisco, it's the security intelligence part. It's quite simple to configure and it's very effective. It cuts down on a lot of trouble in the early phases.

IPS and Snort are very important because they also differentiate Cisco from other vendors and competitors.

I also like that, in recent years, they have been developing the solution very quickly and adding a lot of new, cool features. I really love the new web interface of Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center. It looks like a modern web-user interface compared to the previous one. And the recent release, 7.2, provided even more improvements. I like that you have the option to switch between a simplified view and the classic view of firewall policies. That was a good decision.

What needs improvement?

A major area of improvement would be to have more functionality in public clouds, especially in terms of simplifying it. The high availability doesn't work right now because of the limitations in the cloud. Other vendors find ways to make it work differently than with on-prem solutions.

This is very important because we have customers that build solutions in the cloud that are like what they had on-prem. They have done a lift-and-shift because it's easier for them. They lift their on-prem physical boxes and shift them to the cloud, convert them to virtual, and it continues to work that way. Many times it's not the most efficient or best way to do things, but it's the easiest. The easiest path is probably the way to go.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewalls for four or five years now, but before that, I worked with ASA Firewalls a lot. It was just a transition. I have been using Firepower almost from day one.

We are an integrator and we resell as well as provide professional services. We do everything from A to Z.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There are a lot of things that can be improved. As a Cisco partner, I usually take the first hit if something doesn't work. In recent years, the solution has improved and is more stable. But it has to continue to improve in that direction.

A Firepower firewall is a very important point of exit and entry to a network. It's a critical piece of infrastructure. They should have high availability.

By comparison, I am also a huge fan of Stealthwatch (Cisco Secure Network Analytics) and I use it everywhere. I've been working with that solution for 15 years but it's not mission-critical. If it doesn't work, your boss is not calling you. If it doesn't work, it is not collecting telemetry and it doesn't do its job, but you are not stressed to fix it. With firewalls, it's a little different.

How are customer service and support?

Tech support really depends on how lucky you are. It depends on when you create a TAC case and in which time zone the case is created. That determines which part of TAC takes ownership of your case. I have had a few unpleasant cases but, at the end of the day, they were resolved. I didn't feel like I was alone in the field with an angry customer.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We made a gradual transition from ASA to Firepower because they first had this as Sourcefire services. That is what we used to install first for our customer base. Then Firepower defense appliances and firmware came out. It was a natural process.

How was the initial setup?

My view may be a little bit biased because I do a lot of Cisco deployments, and I have a lab where I play all the time. But overall the deployment is not too complicated.

The deployment time depends on what type of deployment you have. If it's a physical deployment, it may be a little bit faster because you don't have to set up virtual machines. But I recently had a project in AWS, and I used Terraform Templates and it was easy. I still had to configure some additional things like interfaces, IP addresses, and routing. 

Because I know where everything is in the UI, the deployment is okay. One thing I miss a little bit is being able to configure things, like routing, via the command line, which is how it used to be done with the ASA Firewalls. But I understand why they've taken that ability away.

With ASA Firewalls, even when you were upgrading them, the experience was much better because it didn't have those advanced Snort features and you could usually do an upgrade in the middle of day and no one would notice. You didn't have any drops. With Firepower, that's not always the case.

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

It's hard to talk about pricing when you compare firewalls because firewall functionality is almost the same, regardless of whether it's a small box or a large box. The difference is just the throughput. Leaving aside things like clustering, what you have to look at are the throughput and the price.

Cisco's pricing is more or less okay. In other areas where we work with Cisco solutions, like other security solutions and networking, Cisco is usually much more expensive than others. But when it comes to firewalls, Cisco is cheaper than Check Point although it is not as cheap as Fortigate. But with the latest improvements in hardware and speed, the pricing is okay.

To me, as a partner, the licensing is quite simple. I'm responsible for providing estimates to my sales guys and, sometimes, as an architect, I create solutions for my customers and give them estimates. There are other Cisco solutions that have much more complicated licensing models than Firepower. In short, the licensing is quite okay.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Not all of our customers use Cisco and that means we have competition inside our company with Check Point. We also made some attempts with Palo Alto Firewalls, long before we became Cisco partners, but somehow it didn't work for us.

I enjoy working with Cisco because it's more of a networking-guy approach. It reminds me a lot of all the other Cisco equipment, like their switches and routers. The experience is similar.

I haven't worked a lot with Checkpoint firewalls, but I like how they look. What I don't really like is the way you configure them because it's very different from what networking guys are used to doing. I'm not saying it's bad, it's just different. It's not for me. Maybe it appeals more to server guys. Cisco has a more network-centric approach.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller/partner
Flag as inappropriate
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall
August 2022
Learn what your peers think about Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: August 2022.
622,063 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Enterprise Architect at People Driven Technology Inc
Video Review
Real User
Puts controls in place to prevent users from clicking on the wrong link
Pros and Cons
  • "I'm a big fan of SecureX, Cisco's platform for tying together all the different security tools. It has a lot of flexibility and even a lot of third-party or non-Cisco integration. I feel like that's a really valuable tool."
  • "They could improve by having more skilled, high-level engineers that are available around the clock. I know that's an easy thing to say and a hard thing to do."

What is our primary use case?

We're a partner so we work with all sorts of different end-users to deploy them for their use cases, including a lot of internet edge, some data center segmentation, east-west firewalls, and not so much in the cloud, but mostly on-prem today.

We use them for securing the internet perimeter and preventing malware from coming into the environment, as well as providing content filtering for CIPA compliance or other sorts of compliance out there. That's a big use case with our customers. 

The integration with the other Cisco products is something that a lot of our customers are looking forward to, with SecureX and ISE and Secure Endpoint. Things like that are a lot of the use cases that customers bring to us to help them solve. It integrates really well.

How has it helped my organization?

It's allowed them (our clients) to feel or know that their network is secure, and to put those guidelines in place, or those controls in place, to prevent their users from going out and unintentionally doing something dumb by clicking on the wrong link. It's able to prevent malware. And the Umbrella integration prevents them from getting to those websites if they do happen to be too busy and click on a phishing link or something like that.

As far as metrics or examples, I don't have any that I can specifically say off the top of my head. I will say I definitely have lots of happy customers that are running it and they feel it's a stable solution and one that they can rely on.

What is most valuable?

I'm a big fan of SecureX, Cisco's platform for tying together all the different security tools. It has a lot of flexibility and even a lot of third-party or non-Cisco integration. I feel like that's a really valuable tool.

From the Firepower solution, all the features that you would think of when you're thinking about a Firewall [are valuable], including some that I stated: content filtering, the IPS, IDS, and malware prevention. All of those are big use cases and great features that work well.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Cisco Firewalls and Cisco Firepower for at least 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's stable. I have multiple clients that run it. There are always going to be some bugs and issues that we run into, but that's where their TAC definitely jumps in and helps and recommends code versions and things like that. Overall, the stability is pretty good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, they've got all different sizes of firewalls for different scales. Being able to understand how to size the firewalls appropriately is definitely key in that. That's where a partner can help, or even the customer Cisco account team can help with the scalability. They have the big multi-instance 9300 chassis down to the small 1000 series. There's a lot of scalability within the portfolio.

How are customer service and support?

Cisco has a huge TAC organization. Experiences can differ. Sometimes it's really good, sometimes you get a newer TAC engineer who needs to start at step one to investigate the issue. But they're always there. They always pick up the phone and there's always a person, a TAC engineer to escalate to, who can provide really good support. You know that they've got someone in there. It's a matter of getting to the right individual.

They could improve by having more skilled, high-level engineers that are available around the clock. I know that's an easy thing to say and a hard thing to do. 

How was the initial setup?

We have engineers that do the deployments. They're very skilled and have done many Firepower deployments. The methodology that Cisco has, the documentation they have out there on how to install it and how to configure it, are top-notch. That really helps us install it for a customer and get the customer up to speed on how well it works. A firewall is never a super simple thing to install and configure, but Cisco does a really good job with some of their automation tools and the documentation.

Usually, we assign a single engineer to a firewall deployment project and he's able to complete that. The amount of time it takes to deploy will vary. A small branch, may be several hours' worth of work to deploy a firewall. A large corporate site, obviously, that's going to be much more time-consuming, with lots of policies to configure and talk through with the customers and things like that. It varies depending on the size and application.

What was our ROI?

In terms of return on investment, I have multiple clients that have been through multiple generations of ASA to Firepower to the next generation of Firepower. They definitely find the return on investment there. They find it's a valuable product to have in their network. It definitely checks that ROI box for them.

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

Cisco is known as a premier product and it comes with a premier price point sometimes. Sometimes that makes it challenging for some customers to bite off. They see the value when we get into a proof-of-value scenario. Price points can tend to be high, but the new line of the 3000 series Firepowers definitely solves that issue and it's very attractive.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In terms of improving it, they're doing a really good job in a competitive landscape against some of the other vendors out there. The new Firepower 3000 series was a great addition to the portfolio and really stacks up, price-wise, well against some of the other vendors out there. A year ago, that was one thing that I would've commented on, but they've done a pretty good job of filling that niche.

There are some other good solutions out there. There are a lot of other successful firewall vendors. But when I compare a Palo Alto, or a Fortinet, or SonicWall, or something like that against Cisco, it's a tough comparison. Cisco has the ecosystem of security products that all tie in together, integrate really well together. There are lots of good dashboards and observability built into the product. That's where they've got a leg up on their competition. 

What other advice do I have?

My advice for others looking to use the solution is to get [together] with a good partner, someone who's got engineers and architects that know the product well, and get their thoughts on it. We can always help compare and contrast against other options out there in the market. My job is knowing the market landscape and being able to help differentiate.

And always take advantage of a proof of value. It's always best to get that box into your network, see how it works with your particular traffic mix and your set of policies. I would always put a PoC/PoV as a checkbox in a buying decision.

I would rate the product somewhere between a seven or eight out of 10. Sometimes there are stability issues, as I referenced before, or just the general TAC support, while good, could be better. There's always room for improvement there. But I feel like it's a really good product that Cisco has definitely improved as time has gone on.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Flag as inappropriate
PeerSpot user
Henry Pan - PeerSpot reviewer
Technical Consulting Manager at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees
Real User
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.
PeerSpot user
Ken Mohammed - PeerSpot reviewer
UC Solutions Engineer at Diversified
Video Review
Reseller
Enabled my client to have thousands of remote users connect seamlessly through VPN
Pros and Cons
  • "You can also put everything into a nice, neat, little package, as far as configuration goes. I was formerly a command-line guy with the ASA, and I was a little nervous about dealing with a GUI interface versus a command line, but after I did my first deployment, I got a lot more comfortable with doing it GUI based."
  • "I'm not a big fan of the FDM (Firepower Device Manager) that comes with Firepower. I found out that you need to use the Firepower Management Center, the FMC, to manage the firewalls a lot better. You can get a lot more granular with the configuration in the FMC, versus the FDM that comes out-of-the-box with it. FDM is like Firepower for dummies."

What is our primary use case?

I typically deploy firewalls to set up VPNs for remote users, and, in general, for security. I have a number of use cases.

With theUI basedpandemic, the customer really didn't have a VPN solution for their remote users, so we had to go in and deploy a high-availability cluster with Firepower. And I set up single sign-on with SAML authentication and multi-factor authentication.

How has it helped my organization?

We deploy for other organizations. I don't work on our own corporate firewalls, but I do believe we have some. But it definitely improved things. It enabled my clients to have remote users, thousands of them, and they're able to connect seamlessly. They don't have to come into the office. They can go home, connect to the VPN, log on, and do what they need to do.

What is most valuable?

I like that you can get really granular, as far as your access lists and access control go. 

You can also put everything into a nice, neat, little package, as far as configuration goes. I was formerly a command-line guy with the ASA, and I was a little nervous about dealing with a GUI interface versus a command line, but after I did my first deployment, I got a lot more comfortable with doing it GUI-based.

What needs improvement?

I'm not a big fan of the FDM (Firepower Device Manager) that comes with Firepower. I found out that you need to use the Firepower Management Center, the FMC, to manage the firewalls a lot better. You can get a lot more granular with the configuration in the FMC, versus the FDM that comes out-of-the-box with it.

FDM is like Firepower for dummies. I found myself to be limited in what I can do configuration-wise, versus what I can do in the FMC. FMC is more when you have 100 firewalls to manage. They need to come out with something better to manage the firewall, versus the FDM that comes out-of-the-box with it, because that set me back about two weeks fooling around with it.

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's good. It's stable. I haven't heard anything [from my customer]. No news is good news.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales because you can deploy a cluster. You could have up to 16 Firepowers in a cluster, from the class I [was learning] in yesterday. I only had two in that particular cluster. It scales up to 16. If you have a multi-tenant situation, or if you're offering SaaS, or cloud-based firewall services, it's great that it can scale up to 16.

How are customer service and support?

They're always great to me. They're responsive, they're very knowledgeable. They offer suggestions, tell you what you need to do going forward, [and give you] a lot of helpful hints. It was good because I had to work with them a lot on this past deployment. 

Now I can probably do it by myself, without TAC's help.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

How was the initial setup?

The deployment was complex because that was my first time doing a Firepower. I did ASAs prior, no problem. I had to get used to the GUI and the different order of deploying things. I had to reset it to factory defaults several times because I messed something up. And then I had to get with Cisco TAC, for them to help me, and they said, "Okay, you need to default it and start over again".

But now, going forward, I know I need to deploy the FMC first, and then you deploy the Firepowers, and tell them where the FMC is, and then they connect, and then you can go in and configure it. I had it backward and it was a big thing. I had to keep resetting it. It was a good learning experience, though, and thankfully, I had a patient customer.

[In terms of maintenance] I've not heard anything back from my customer, so I'm assuming once it's in, it's in. It's not going to break. It's an HA pair. My customer doesn't really know too much about it. I don't know that they would know if one of them went down, because it fails over to the other one. I demonstrated to them, "Look, this is how it fails over. If I turn one off, it fails over." VPN doesn't disconnect, everything's good. Users don't know that the firewall failed over unless they're actually sitting there looking at AnyConnect. I don't think they know. So, I'll wait for them to call me and see if they know if something's broken or not.

What was our ROI?

As far as return on investment [goes], I would imagine there is some. For the users, as far as saving on commuting costs, they don't have to come into the office. They can stay home and work, and connect to the enterprise from anywhere in the world, essentially.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've done a Palo Alto before, and a Juniper once, but mostly ASAs and Firepowers.

Naturally, I prefer Cisco stuff. [For the Palo Alto deployment] they just said, "Oh, you know, firewalls", and that's why the customer wanted Palos, so that's what I had to do. I had to figure it out. I learned something new, but my preference is Cisco firewalls.

I just like the granularity of the configuration [with Cisco]. I've never had any customers complain after I put it in, "Hey, we got hacked," or "There are some holes in the firewall," or any type of security vulnerabilities, malware, ransomware, or anything like that. You can tighten up the enterprise really well, security-wise.

Everything is GUI-based now, so to me, that's not really a difference. The Palos and the Junipers, I don't know what improvements they have made because [I worked on] those over five or six years ago. I can't even really speak to that.

What other advice do I have?

Because I don't like the management tool that comes out-of-the-box with it, the FDM, I'll give the Firepower an eight out of 10. That was a real pain dealing with, until they said, "Okay, let's get him an FMC." That was TAC's suggestion, actually. They said, "You really need FMC. The FDM is really trash."

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
Flag as inappropriate
PeerSpot user
System programmer 2 at a government with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Has versatile, flexible policies and packet captures that help debug connections
Pros and Cons
  • "The features I've found most valuable are the packet captures and packet traces because they help me debug connections. I like the logs because they help me see what's going on."
  • "I think they need to review their whole UI because it feels like it was created by a whole bunch of different teams of developers who didn't fully talk to each other. The net policy screen is just a mess. It should look like the firewall policy screen, and they should both act the same, but they don't. I feel like it's two different buildings or programming, who don't talk to each other, and that really annoys me."

What is our primary use case?

We use it to protect our DMZs and externals, to protect our network from our other city partners who manage their own networks to which we have direct connections, like VPNs, and to manage the security parameters between inside and outside connectivity and vice versa.

How has it helped my organization?

Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall was introduced as a migration of many firewalls into one. Just having one firewall with one place of security and one place to look for your packets has really helped.

What is most valuable?

The features I've found most valuable are the packet captures and packet traces because they help me debug connections. I like the logs because they help me see what's going on.

The security correlation events and the network map help me to drill down on a host at will.

I really like the flexibility of the policies such as those you can use and the layer three policies with which you can block applications. It's really versatile. I like the security zones.

Cybersecurity resilience is our main focus right now. Because we're a government organization, everybody's really nervous about security and what the ramifications are. My device generates all the logs that our security team goes through and correlates all the events, so it's really important right now.

What needs improvement?

I think they need to review their whole UI because it feels like it was created by a whole bunch of different teams of developers who didn't fully talk to each other. The net policy screen is just a mess. It should look like the firewall policy screen, and they should both act the same, but they don't. I feel like it's two different buildings or programming, that don't talk to each other, and that really annoys me.

They should either build an application or get away from the web. They need to do something that's uniform and more streamlined.

We have a multi-person firewall team, and I can't look at a policy while somebody else is in it. It'll kick me out. I might be working on something that the other guy has to modify. I know that in the next versions they will be dealing with it with a soft lock, but it should've already been there.

One of Cisco's strengths is the knowledge depth of their staff. The solutions engineer we worked with knew the routing and each protocol. If he didn't know something, he would reach out to someone else at Cisco who did. He would even talk to a developer if he needed to.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Firepower for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There are some stability issues. We ran CheckPoint for years and didn't have problems with the firewall itself. However, with Firepower, in the past two years, we've had two major crashes and a software bug switchover.

We were debugging NAT rules. I did a show xlate for the NAT translation, and the firewall rebooted itself.

It has only been three instances in two years, but when I compare the stability to that of CheckPoint, it seems higher. CheckPoint just seemed to run.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have about 8000 end users. Scalability-wise, it's already handling a large amount of traffic.

How are customer service and support?

I like that Cisco's technical support will help me recover the firewall when everything falls apart. I'd give them a nine out of ten. They've really been consistently good, and they go after the problem.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We previously used CheckPoint and Fortinet. We switched from CheckPoint because it was unsupported, and we wanted to move to a next-generation firewall.

We went to Fortinet, and when we switched over, it caused a huge network outage. The Cisco engineers helped fish us out of that. Our GM at the time preferred Cisco, and we switched to Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up the machines was straightforward, but exporting was complex. That is, it wasn't a complex deployment as far as the hardware goes. It was more of a complex deployment as far as transferring all the rules go because of our routing architecture.

Firepower is our main interface out to the outside world. We have about eight DMZs that are interface-based. You can do a logical DMZ or you can have an interface and a logical DMZ. We have about eight that are on interfaces. Then, we have our cloud providers and the firewall. We have rules so that our cloud providers can't ingress into our network.

I've found that Firepower does need a lot of maintenance. It needs a lot more software updates than other solutions. We have three people to maintain the solution.

What about the implementation team?

For the deployment, we had about 18 team members including firewall administrators, Cisco firewall engineers, and techs.

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

The licensing scheme is completely confusing, and they need to streamline it. They have classic licensing and a new type of licensing now. Also, the licensing for the actual firewall is separate from the one for TAC support.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to leaders who want to build more resilience within their organizations is that they should help make policies. Leaders don't want to make policies; they don't want to put their names on policies or write policy documents. I as a firewall administrator am the one saying what the policy should be. I tell them what should happen, and sometimes, they resist.

Also, because the system is just too big to really manage without TAC, you would need TAC along with Firepower.

My advice would also be to go with HA or a cluster up front and not to be cheap. You really need to go in with a robust solution up front.

I would rate Firepower an eight on a scale from one to ten because the firewall and tech support together make it a very robust solution.

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.
Flag as inappropriate
PeerSpot user
Senior Network And Security 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: PeerSpot 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.
PeerSpot user
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: PeerSpot 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
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
Download our free Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
Updated: August 2022
Product Categories
Firewalls
Buyer's Guide
Download our free Cisco Firepower NGFW Firewall Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.