Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks: Top NGFWs Compared

A next-generation firewall (NGFW) is an important component of network security and represents the third generation of firewall technology.

NGFWs provide capabilities beyond that of a traditional, stateful firewall, including cloud-delivered threat intelligence, integrated intrusion prevention, and application awareness and control.

To add to the stateful inspection of network traffic and access control, NGFWs can block modern, sophisticated threats like application-layer attacks and advanced malware. When choosing an NGFW, here is what you should look for:

  • Breach prevention and advanced security capabilities, including an intrusion prevention system (IPS), URL filtering, sandboxing, state-of-the-art malware protection, and advanced threat intelligence
  • Holistic network visibility
  • Flexible management, deployment, and customization options
  • The ability to detect threats in seconds and successful breaches in minutes (preferably) or hours and deliver prioritized alerts
  • Automation and product integrations

Whether you are a small, mid-sized, or large organization, an NGFW should deliver those capabilities.

Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks are two of the top cybersecurity companies and compete in a number of security markets, among them EDR and firewalls. Cybersecurity buyers in the market for NGFWs often compare the two, and with good reason, as both made our list of the top NGFWs and boast strong, independently verified security.

Fortinet

Fortinet’s NGFWs minimize cost and complexity by delivering advanced security capabilities, such as intrusion prevention, to provide full protection and visibility for any network edge at any scale, including cloud edges, Wireless Area Network (WAN) and the enterprise data center, web filtering, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection, including TLS1.3.

Fortinet offers several NGFW hardware models, of which the FortiGate 7000 Series and FortiGate 7121F are best-suited for large enterprises and service providers. You should explore the FortiGate 5000 Series as well.

Fortinet features

Here are the main features and benefits of Fortinet’s NGFWs:

  • With full visibility of the network; SSL protection, including TLS1.3; and automated threat protection, you have a greater chance of stopping ransomware.
  • With services that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), you can manage all risks and reduce costs. These include Domain Name System (DNS) security services, web and video filtering, and an IPS.
  • You can deliver a streamlined and secure user experience to the distributed workforce with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).
  • A centralized, easy-to-use management console enables you to build efficient, large-scale operations and promotes automation-driven network management.
  • Security fabric integration enables you to share actionable threat intelligence across the whole attack surface and offer a consolidated, end-to-end security posture.
  • You can meet ever-increasing business demands by building ultra-scalable Security-Driven Networks.

Pricing: FortiGate 7121F has chassis-based pricing. Contact the Fortinet sales team for pricing information. You can fill a form to request a free product demo before you purchase the solution. FortiGate pricing is also widely available from resellers on the internet. The company tends to package support and services with its firewalls so pricing can be challenging to ascertain.

FortiOS dashboard
FortiOS dashboard

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks’ ML-powered NGFWs enable you to design and deploy zero trust network security for users and make network security intelligent and proactive to quickly and successfully counter increasingly advanced, modern threats. The service provider offers both virtual (software) and appliance-based NGFWs.

Palo Alto Networks features

Listed below are the primary features of Palo Alto Networks’ NGFWs:

  • VM-Series’ virtual, easy-to-deploy, scalable, and automatable firewalls isolate and protect critical systems, boost public cloud security, and safeguard private clouds.
  • CN-Series’ containerized NGFWs protect traffic between container trust zones in Kubernetes environments along with other workload types, all without hampering the speed of development.
  • PA-Series’ hardware NGFWs are designed for integration, automation, and simplicity. We recommend exploring the PA-7000 series, which enables you to protect your data center at full speed and provides versatility, simplicity, intelligence, and power for enterprise and service provider deployments.
  • Panorama is a single, centralized management console that simplifies network configurations and provides deep insights and visibility into network-wide traffic.
  • Cloud-delivered security services include DNS Security, WildFire, Threat Prevention, Advanced URL Filtering, IoT Security, Enterprise Data Loss Prevention, and SaaS Security.
  • PAN-OS runs all Palo Alto Networks NGFWs and enables you to leverage technologies that are built into the software to obtain complete control and visibility of applications that are in use across all users and devices.

Pricing: You can schedule a personal product demo. Reach out to the Palo Alto Networks sales team for pricing details. Resellers show list prices as low as $1,000 for the PA-220 and as high as $210,000 for the PA-5280.

Palo Alto Panorama
Palo Alto’s Panorama centralized management

If you’re interested in earning a Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, check out this course!

Fortinet vs. Palo Alto Networks

In our analysis, here’s how Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks NGFWs stack up.

Security Capabilities

Both companies have done very well in CyberRatings firewall testing and MITRE endpoint security testing, but Palo Alto’s steady stream of top results and user feedback give the edge to Palo Alto in our opinion.

Pricing

Fortinet users generally report greater pricing flexibility lower cost, and we see no reason to disagree with that.

Integration and Deployment

Users of both companies’ firewalls say they’re pretty easy to get up and running, but actual reported implementation times for Fortinet are shorter, so the edge goes to Fortinet.

Support

Both vendors get pretty good support scores, so no clear advantage for either.

Here’s how the two compare in recent Gartner Peer Review ratings:

Features Fortinet NGFWs  Palo Alto Networks NGFWs
Ease of Deployment
Ability to Understand Needs
Pricing Flexibility
Quality of End-User Training
Ease of Integration Using Standard Tools and APIs
Availability of Third-Party Resources
Service and Support
Willingness to Recommend
Overall Capability Score

 

Choosing an NGFW

Fortinet’s NGFWs protect any edge at any scale and deliver full network visibility and advanced threat prevention. The main features of Fortinet NGFWs include full visibility and protection, AI/ML-powered FortiGuard services, natively integrated proxy, hyperscale security, automation-driven network management, and security fabric integration.

Palo Alto Networks’ virtual, physical, and container NGFWs are ML-powered. You can leverage cloud-delivered security services, centralized network security management, and the latest innovations in PAN-OS to future proof network security.

Both NGFW service providers are worth your money—compare and contrast the solutions on offer and purchase one that best fits the profile of your organization.

The Bottom Line

In our analysis and review, if you needed the highest security and firewall capability, choose Palo Alto. If cost and resources are an issue, take a closer look at Fortinet. Both offer excellent security, however, so there’s no wrong decision here.

Further reading: Best Enterprise Network Security Tools & Solutions

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Surajdeep Singh
Surajdeep Singh
Surajdeep Singh has been working as an IT and blockchain journalist since 2018. He is a contributor to publications including eSecurity Planet, IT Business Edge, Enterprise Networking Planet & Smart Billions and works as a consultant at Drofa Communications Agency.

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