9 Best Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) Solutions for 2024

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Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) are network security solutions that go beyond the traditional port/protocol inspection by incorporating application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and external threat intelligence. As the third generation in firewall technology, NGFWs improve network security by handling application-level threats and combining traditional features with more advanced decision-making capabilities. They’re a core cybersecurity product and a foundational security tool every organization needs to protect their network from intruders.

As defending data and applications becomes more complicated, the security products built to withstand evolving threats also grow more powerful. The vast expansion of IoT devices, remote work, and advanced threats like ransomware have made protecting the perimeter more challenging and more critical than ever.

We surveyed the enterprise firewall market, and in our analysis nine NGFW vendors stand out:

Top NGFW Solutions Comparison

This comparative table guides you in selecting the NGFW solution that aligns seamlessly with your organization’s security objectives, exploring key aspects like scalability, threat detection, advanced sandboxing, ease of use, and pricing.

ScalabilityThreat Detection and PreventionAdvanced SandboxingEase of UsePricing
Palo AltoYesYesYesEasyPrice starts at $1000 per year. 
FortinetYesYesYesEasyPrice starts at $600 per year. 
Check PointYesYesYesEasyPrice for small-size packages starts at $2100 per year.
Barracuda CloudGen FirewallYesYesLimited Moderately complexStarts at $4599 per year in the marketplace for small instance types in the US.

For custom quotations, contact Barracuda sales. 
CiscoYesYesYesModerately complexStarts at $4500 per year in the marketplace for large instance types.

For custom quotations, contact Cisco sales. 
ForcepointYesYesYesEasyForcepoint NGFW 300 Series in the marketplace starts at $1700 per year.

For custom quotations, contact Forcepoint sales. 
HuaweiYesYesYesModerately complexPricing unavailable on the vendor’s website.

For custom quotations, contact Huawei sales. 
Juniper NetworksYesYesLimitedModerately complexPrice for Juniper vSRX NGFW in the marketplace starts at $1990 per year.

For custom quotations, contact Juniper Networks sales.
Sophos XGSLimitedYesLimitedEasyPricing starts at around $500 for the XGS 87 and around $30,000 for the XGS 6500.

Featured Partners: Next-Gen Firewall (NGFW) Software

Palo Alto Networks icon.

Palo Alto

Best for Large Enterprises

Palo Alto Networks, founded by Nir Zuk, a pioneer in stateful inspection firewall and intrusion prevention systems, released the first “next-generation firewall” in 2007. Palo Alto continues to innovate as an industry leader with physical (PA-Series), virtual (VM-Series), and container (CN-Series) firewall solutions that provide significant visibility and control across scattered network segments in complicated architectures. Palo Alto’s NGFW range is famous for its comprehensive features, albeit at a premium cost, and is ideal for protecting virtual, on-premises, and container environments. It is designed for large enterprises with strong IT and security teams, and it is most beneficial for organizations that can fully utilize its potential.


  • Depending on the firewall series, starting prices for Palo Alto firewalls range from about $1,000 annually for the PA-410 to around $200,000 for the high-end PA-7000 series.
  • Contact the Palo Alto sales team or your reseller for more information.
  • Palo Alto also has a cloud NGFW pricing estimator that teams can use to find the approximate cost for their business.


  • Scalability: Options for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to large organizations, managed service providers (MSPs), and huge data centers are available.
  • Comprehensive Visibility and Control: Provides extensive visibility and management of scattered network parts inside complicated network designs.
  • User-Based Policies: User-based policies limit application access by integrating existing user repositories.
  • Machine Learning for Threat Detection: Uses machine learning to detect threats and prevent intrusions.
  • Container Security: Provides NGFW container security solutions.
  • Innovation: Continues to innovate with physical (PA-Series), virtual (VM-Series), and container (CN-Series) firewall solutions.
  • Centralized Management: Uses Panorama for central management, giving administrators a single point of contact to handle NGFWs.
Palo Alto’s dashboard for centralized management using Panorama.
Palo Alto’s dashboard for centralized management using Panorama


  • Highly feature-rich, suitable for large enterprises requiring comprehensive functionality.
  • NGFW available for container protection.


  • Palo Alto is one of the more expensive NGFW solutions, and prices could be challenging for small businesses.
  • Multiple customers reported long wait times for technical support.


Palo Alto Networks is among the leading choices in the firewall market, having earned the Leader title in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave for 2022. eSecurityPlanet recognized it as the top firewall vendor, with an exceptional average score of 4.6/5 stars from over 1,100 reviews on Gartner Peer Insights, with special appreciation for product capabilities and user-friendly features. Palo Alto’s firewalls received the highest possible rating, AAA, in the most recent CyberRatings test findings, further consolidating their position.

Read more about Palo Alto Networks firewalls:

Fortinet icon.


Best for the Value

Fortinet’s FortiGate NGFWs, founded by the Xie brothers with origins in NetScreen, provide powerful protection from home offices to large companies. FortiGate, which integrates SSL inspection, intrusion prevention, and web filtering, provides integrated security at a lower cost than Palo Alto, making it an appealing option for smaller enterprises needing enterprise-class protection.


  • FortiGate entry-level/branch F series appliances start at around $600, while the very high-end 520 Gbps FortiGate 7121F can cost $1 million or more with support and enterprise protection.
  • Contact Fortinet or your reseller for quotes for your business.
  • Fortinet has a page with broad estimates of firewall hardware costs, but for custom quotations, contact sales.


  • Value: Positioned as a more affordable option than Palo Alto.
  • Security Processing Units (SPUs): SPUs and vSPUs are used to speed up network security computing.
  • FortiOS: Fortinet’s security-focused operating system with federated upgrades.
  • Zero Trust Capabilities: Provides zero trust capabilities for identifying and protecting suspicious users and devices.
  • SD-WAN Features: Solid SD-WAN features for businesses looking for an SD-WAN solution to add to their firewall.
  • VPN tunneling: Scalable IPsec VPN tunneling for securing a remote and distributed workforce.
  • User Interface: Has an appealing, well-designed user interface.
Fortinet’s Fortigate dashboard.
Fortinet’s Fortigate dashboard


  • Fortinet’s NGFW has solid SD-WAN features for businesses that want an SD-WAN alternative alongside their firewall.
  • Fortinet has an attractive, well-designed user interface.


  • Multiple Fortinet customer reviews reported problems with technical support.
  • Some users have reported intermittent system outages that have disrupted their activities.


Fortinet leads the firewall industry, having been named the vendor Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave for 2022. Fortinet’s firewalls received an excellent AA grade from CyberRatings. Gartner Peer Insights confirms its quality with a 4.6/5 star average rating from over 2,300 reviews. Reviews highlight Fortinet’s ease of implementation, strong product features, and contributions in improving compliance and risk management.

Check Point icon.

Check Point

Best for Sandboxing

Check Point Software Technologies, an established firewall provider, provides a solid NGFW solution with their Quantum Security Gateways. They offer threat prevention solutions such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS), anti-bot, application control, and URL filtering to businesses of all sizes. Check Point’s cutting-edge technology is distinguished by its SandBlast Zero-Day Protection, which includes enhanced threat simulation and extraction. Consider Check Point if your company requires rigorous sandboxing for high-traffic applications. Check Point, along with Fortinet and Palo Alto, provides high-security solutions, with options based on your individual IT environment.


  • NGFW package subscription for 1 year for 3100-appliance and small-size packages starts at $2100, while pricing for high-end packages starts at $9000.
  • Contact Check Point sales or resellers to learn more about NGFW pricing.


  • Compatibility with Hybrid Infrastructure: Supports physical, virtual, cloud, and mobile segments.
  • SandBlast Zero-Day Protection: This product is notable for its extensive sandboxing features.
  • Extensive Physical Appliance Options: Provides a wide range of physical appliance options, including single and multi-domain administration.
  • Centralized Management: Provides policy configuration rollouts and rollbacks to central management.
  • Maestro Orchestrator: Offers a network security solution for hyperscale installations.
Check Point’s dashboard for centralized management using Panorama.
Check Point’s dashboard for centralized management using Panorama


  • Easy-to-use SmartConsole dashboard
  • URL filtering features
  • Advanced sandboxing


  • Customers had trouble finding knowledgeable support engineers to assist with technical issues.
  • Some users found VPN configuration and troubleshooting difficult.


Check Point, an early innovator in the firewall industry, has been named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave for Enterprise Firewalls for 2022. Check Point’s strongest ratings emphasize product capabilities and deployment ease, earning an exceptional average score of 4.5/5 stars on Gartner Peer Insights from over 1,500 reviews. Check Point firewalls achieved the highest AAA grade in the most recent CyberRatings test findings.

Barracuda icon.

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall

Best for Hybrid Cloud Environments

The Barracuda CloudGen Firewall was designed with the hybrid era in mind: its Firewall F-Series is designed to preserve legacy hardware while meeting new challenges in hybrid network environments. Administrators have the latest features to combat advanced threats with traffic management, SD-WAN, IDPS, and VPN capabilities built-in. Barracuda relies on multiple detection layers, including threat signatures and static code analysis, in an era where signature-based defenses are increasingly unreliable. It’s a good choice for protecting hybrid cloud infrastructures, particularly if your business needs to monitor connections between multiple cloud environments.


  • AWS Marketplace offers pricing information starting at $4599 a year for small instance types.
  • Contact Barracuda’s sales team and fill out an interest form to receive a quote for an NGFW solution.


  • Compatibility with Hybrid Infrastructure: Designed for on-premises, virtualized, and cloud settings.
  • Advanced Threat Protection: Provides advanced threat protection through traffic management, SD-WAN, IDPS, and VPN.
  • Stateful Deep Packet Inspection: Stateful deep packet inspection prevents malformed packets and attacks.
  • High Availability: Provides high availability through automatic load balancing and uplink options.
  • Control Over Objects and Configuration: Provides management of objects, repositories, updates, privileges, and configuration.
Barracuda CloudGen Firewall dashboard.
Barracuda CloudGen Firewall dashboard


  • Designed for hybrid cloud infrastructures.
  • Thorough threat protection features and packet inspection for detailed network traffic analysis and protection.
  • Knowledgeable, helpful support team according to reviews.


  • Some users struggled with complex configuration.
  • Barracuda’s dual consoles make management for hybrid cloud and on-premises users more complicated.


Barracuda Networks is routinely recommended as a firewall vendor of importance, obtaining the Visionary label in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant and ranking among the top ten enterprise firewalls in the 2022 Forrester Wave. Barracuda firewalls received an A rating in the CyberRatings test. Gartner Peer Insights reflected its brilliance in its average rating of 4.4/5 stars from 224 reviews. User feedback highlights Barracuda’s excellent technical assistance, knowledge of organizational needs, and end-user training.

Cisco icon.


Best for Consistent Network Policies

Cisco Systems, a leading networking company, continues to innovate to stay ahead of the changing IT and cybersecurity market. Cisco’s 2015 acquisition of SD-WAN startup Embrane moved the company forward, emphasizing application-level traffic protection. Cisco Secure Firewall now provides real-time protection for workloads and networks in dynamic situations. Administrators can scale in the current computing environment with Cisco Secure Workload integration, protecting distributed applications over increasing networks. Cisco is an excellent solution for enterprises needing comprehensive security for all enterprise applications. It is built for broad-scale business policy enforcement in organizations with diverse application requirements.


  • On Cisco’s contact page, potential customers can fill out a form to speak with a Cisco representative about receiving a demo, starting a Secure Firewall trial, or purchasing a firewall.
  • AWS Marketplace offers pricing information starting at $4500 a year for large instance types.


  • Dynamic Policy Support: Offers dynamic policy support with tag-based policies and attribute support.
  • Developer-Friendly: Kubernetes-based firewall alternatives that are developer-friendly, extremely elastic, and cloud-native.
  • Log Management: Offers log management combined with security incidents and behavioral analysis.
  • Threat Intelligence: The Cisco Talos Intelligence Group provides rapid and actionable threat intelligence.
  • Unified Control: The Secure Firewall Management Center provides unified control over firewall tools.
Cisco’s secure firewall management center.
Cisco’s secure firewall management center


  • Advanced intrusion prevention features.
  • Strong focus on consistent network policies.


  • Some reviewers found the UI sluggish or confusing.
  • Integrations with third-party products to enhance overall compatibility should be improved.


Cisco, a key player in the network firewall field, was named Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Firewalls in 2018 and 2019, shifting to Challenger in 2020 and keeping this position in the 2022 report. Cisco was named a Strong Performer in the Forrester Wave for Enterprise Firewalls in 2022. Cisco firewalls received a BB rating from CyberRatings, ranking fifth out of 10. Cisco’s good status is reflected in Gartner Peer Insights, where the average score is 4.5/5 stars based on 900+ ratings. Positive feedback highlights the Cisco Partner Program’s wide technology stack access for channel partners, as well as technical support quality, prompt responses, and robust product capabilities.

Forcepoint icon.


Best for Cluster Management

Forcepoint established its own SASE platform to safeguard data in the cloud era, with a track record of serving governmental agencies and global corporations with a growing stack of security solutions. The Forcepoint NGFW takes pride in providing high availability, scalability, and security across a changing ecosystem by combining an enterprise SD-WAN with industry-tested security technologies. It provides the most significant benefit to large businesses because of its powerful cluster management features. Forcepoint is a fantastic option for businesses looking for a full-featured network security platform that may be less expensive than other market leaders.


  • Forcepoint provides custom quotes to potential customers who fill out the pricing form on their website.
  • Forcepoint NGFW 300 Series in the marketplace starts at $1700.


  • High-availability clustering: Offers device, VPN connection, and SD-WAN network high-availability clustering.
  • Unified Software: On-premises, cloud (AWS and Azure), and VMware deployments are all supported by unified software.
  • Security Tool Integration: Works with Forcepoint’s CASB, online security, and anti-malware sandboxing solutions.
  • Application-Level Traffic Protection: A good option for companies that want to deploy NGFW to secure all enterprise applications.
  • Centralized Management: Provides centralized management for improved application of distributed network policies.
Forcepoint’s NGFW engine deployment.
Forcepoint’s NGFW engine deployment


  • Strong VPN client authentication.
  • Additional Forcepoint software integrations.
  • Protection for AWS and Azure cloud environments.


  • Forcepoint could offer broader cloud protection.
  • While users are typically satisfied with support, Forcepoint’s limited channel network is a disadvantage.


Though Forcepoint is not at the top of the firewall sector, its solid and innovative product strategy has earned it the Visionary distinction in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Firewalls for the past three years. Forcepoint was identified as a Contender in the 2022 Q4 Forrester Wave. Forcepoint firewalls received the highest grade of AAA from CyberRatings. Gartner Peer Insights displays positive customer feelings with a 4.4/5 star rating based on 154 ratings. The reviews emphasize the ease of implementation, excellent product capabilities, and user-friendly features.

Read this comparison of Fortinet and Forcepoint if your business is considering both.

Huawei icon.


Best for Cloud Service Providers

Huawei’s USG (Unified Security Gateway) Series, designed for modern data centers and large companies, would complete today’s comprehensive technology stacks. The USG6700E Series AI Firewall, noted for cutting operational costs, streamlines service deployment and policy modifications. The USG9500 Series Terabit-Level NGFW is designed for large data centers and cloud services. Huawei consistently receives favorable feedback and is praised for its dependability. It’s an excellent option for large-scale service providers and data center operations looking for consistent network security.


  • For Huawei USG pricing, fill out the Get Pricing form on Huawei’s website to contact a sales representative.


  • Integration with Cloud and Local Sandboxes: Works with a local or cloud sandbox to detect, analyze, and prevent zero-day attacks.
  • PBR (Policy-Based Routing): Uses policy-based routing to manage bandwidth per user and IP address.
  • Deception System: Includes a deception system for detecting threat actor scans and investigating events.
  • Chip-Level Pattern Matching: This technique is used to improve antivirus and IPSec performance.
  • Integrated Tools: Includes VPN, AV, IPS, data loss prevention, and URL filtering.
Huawei USG6370 series dashboard.
Huawei USG6370 series dashboard


  • Offers dependable and consistent network security for large-scale service providers and data center operations.
  • Policy-based network management.
  • Multiple integrations with security tools.


  • Multiple governments have banned Huawei products for all businesses within their countries over concern about potential ties to the Chinese government.
  • Some users have reported its lacking capabilities to detect Indicators of Compromise (IoC).


Huawei, known for its reliable firewall solutions, was named a Challenger in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for network firewalls in 2022 and was ranked among the top ten providers in the Forrester Wave in 2022. Huawei excels in deployment, vendor timeliness, and technical support, earning an amazing 4.9/5 stars on Gartner Peer Insights from 196 evaluations. It is worth mentioning, however, that the corporation confronts restrictions in a number of industrialized countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Russia, and the United States.

Juniper Networks icon.

Juniper Networks

Best for SMEs with distributed networks

Juniper Networks, which entered the cybersecurity sector in 2004 with the acquisition of NetScreen Technologies, offers advanced security solutions. Their SRX Series Gateways provide centralized policy control for scalable operations, safeguarding network edges, data centers, virtual/cloud environments (vSRX), and containers (cSRX). 

Juniper is an excellent choice for enterprises that use virtual environments and containers, particularly those looking for a firewall with SD-WAN features.


  • Price for Juniper vSRX NGFW in the AWS marketplace starts at $1990 per year. 
  • For custom quotations, contact Juniper Networks sales.


  • AppSecure: Utilizes AppSecure to identify, secure, and manage application and user traffic.
  • Intrusion Prevention System: Provides an intrusion prevention system that can accept bespoke signatures.
  • SDN and Policy-Based Routing: SDN and policy-based routing across wired, wireless, and WAN networks.
  • Microsegmentation and Threat Prevention: Microsegmentation capabilities, proven threat prevention, and VPNs.
  • Centralized Control: Implements centralized controls to simplify configuration maintenance and scaling.
Juniper’s centralized dashboard.
Juniper’s centralized dashboard


  • Features for microsegmentation.
  • Protection for container environments.


  • Some Juniper users struggled with the UI, stating that it needs improvement or is complex to use.
  • Antivirus and anti-spam filtering features need improvement.


Juniper Networks’ firewall solutions have received industry recognition, with the company named a Challenger in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for network firewalls (2022) and a Strong Performer in the Forrester Wave for Enterprise Firewalls in 2022. Juniper firewalls received an AA-grade from CyberRatings. Users like Juniper’s contract process and awareness of client demands, as evidenced by a 4.6/5 star rating on Gartner Peer Insights. For existing Juniper clients, the SRX Series Gateways are suggested, indicating the company’s strong security focus for broader consideration.

Sophos icon.

Sophos XGS

Best for Small Security Teams

Sophos, a UK-based cybersecurity provider, offers firewall solutions through its Sophos Firewall Xstream architecture. The XGS Series, which is intended for complicated network segments, provides current data protection for SaaS, SD-WAN, and cloud traffic. Data from SophosLabs is sent into the XGS Firewalls, which use global threat data for automated detection and response. The XGS firewall series is appropriate for security teams that are less experienced in configuration and policy management, since it provides a feature-rich yet understandable interface for IT and security staff.


  • Pricing starts at around $500 for the XGS 87 and around $30,000 for the XGS 6500.
  • Contact Sophos for custom quotations by filling out the pricing form on their website.


  • Deep Packet Inspection: This includes deep packet inspection, intrusion prevention, and proxy-based scanning.
  • Threat Intelligent Traffic Selection: Supports modern cipher suites and covers all ports.
  • Deep Learning and Dynamic Sandboxing: Provides dynamic sandboxing and deep learning static file analysis.
  • Machine Learning for Threat Identification: Identifies advanced and unknown threats using machine learning models.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Comes with an intuitive user dashboard.
Sophos XG Firewall dashboard.
Sophos XG Firewall dashboard


  • Customers report that the user interface is easy to use, configure, and manage.
  • Provides two-factor authentication (2FA), seamless Remote VPN for branch connections, and powerful Web Traffic Rules to prevent network malware and illegal activities.


  • Some customers report trouble with Sophos’s technical support team.
  • Sophos works well for SMEs but falls short for large organizations with complex security requirements.


Sophos received several industry awards, including a Niche Player distinction in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Firewalls (2022) and a Strong Performer classification in the Forrester Wave 2022. With an average score of 4.7/5 stars and 644 reviews, Gartner Peer Insights demonstrates the software’s strong customer satisfaction, stressing Sophos’ product features and simplicity of deployment and management.

Read this comparison of Sophos and Fortinet if you’re considering both.

Key Features of NGFW Solutions

Organizations expect the most up-to-date tools and resources for managing their security infrastructure, including NGFW capabilities. When considering NGFW vendors and products, look for the following standard and advanced features such as identity awareness, centralized management, stateful inspection, and more.

Application And Identity Awareness

A critical difference between traditional firewalls and NGFWs is the latter’s ability to offer protection at the application and user identity levels. Whereas traditional firewalls rely on standard application ports, NGFWs can identify, allow, block, and limit applications regardless of port or protocol. NGFWs’ ability to recognize identity adds to its control by enabling administrators to apply firewall rules more granularly to groups and users.

Centralized Management, Visibility, And Auditing

To actively manage a network’s defenses, administrators need an accessible and configurable dashboard to view and manage security systems like NGFWs. Most NGFWs contain log analysis, policy management, and a management dashboard that offer a way to track security health, analyze traffic patterns, and export firewall rules for use elsewhere.

Stateful Inspection

Traditional firewalls use stateful inspection, also known as dynamic packet filtering, to inspect traffic up to Layer-4. NGFWs are built to track Layers 2-7. This advancement allows NGFWs to perform the same stateful inspection duties of a traditional firewall—distinguishing between safe and unsafe packets. The extension of dynamic packet filtering to the application layer is invaluable as critical resources move towards the network edge.

Deep Packet Inspection

Deep packet inspection (DPI) goes a step further in inspecting traffic. Stateful inspection monitors all traffic and just the packet headers, while DPI inspects the data and header of transmitted packets. Executed at the application layer, DPI can locate, categorize, block, or reroute packets with problematic code or data payloads not detected in stateful inspection.

Also Read: What is Application Security?

Integrated Intrusion Prevention (IPS)

Intrusion prevention systems (IPS) once sat adjacent to the firewall, playing defender against new threats outside the protected network. While traditional firewalls manage traffic flows based on network information, IPS devices inspect, alert, and even actively rid the network of malware and intruders.

As cybersecurity products have evolved, IPS technology has been a valuable integration into NGFW product offerings. While the distinction is growing narrower, the question for buyers becomes whether the IPS technology included with their NGFW is good enough to forego a standalone IPS product. Critically, IPS can prevent attacks like brute force, known vulnerabilities, and DDoS.

Network Sandboxing

The main goal of network sandboxing is to test malware in a controlled environment in order to boost defenses. Depending on your NGFW selection, you may have access to a network sandbox or have the option of adding such on a subscription basis. Network sandboxing advances malware protection because it allows IT professionals the chance to send a potentially malicious program to a secure, isolated, cloud-based environment where administrators can assess the malware behavior before it interacts with the in-network systems.

Also Read: Types of Malware & Best Malware Protection Practices

Secured Traffic

HTTPS is the current standard for network communication over the internet, using the SSL/TLS protocol for encrypting such communications. As the leading network traffic inspector, NGFWs are now being used to decrypt SSL and TLS communications, often coming with remote access VPN capabilities.

To secure encrypted traffic, NGFWs support all inbound and outbound SSL decryption. This monitoring ensures that the infrastructure can identify and prevent threats rooted in encrypted network flows.

Also Read: Tokenization vs. Encryption: Which Is Better for Protecting Critical Data?

Threat Intelligence And Dynamic Lists

Most NGFW vendors offer some form of threat intelligence. New threats arise daily, and expecting firewall administrators to be aware and online around the clock can be a recipe for disaster. NGFWs can use a global network’s updates on the latest threats and attack sources, using third-party threat intelligence feeds, to block threats and implement policy changes in real time.

Indicators of compromise (IoC) are shared globally, informing your NGFW of malicious traffic to eliminate or block automatically without the 3 a.m. call or to surface events that do require attention. Threats identified in-house can also be countered with the use of dynamic lists. NGFWs make threat hunting more automated and less prone to human error with threat intelligence feeds and dynamic lists in your toolbox.

Integration Capacity

Organizations small and large continue to ramp up third-party services that enhance business processes, including numerous popular and mission-critical SaaS applications and APIs. As IT managers look at new products to incorporate into their organization’s infrastructure, the product’s ability to integrate third-party applications is a must.

Easy integration means less stress for personnel navigating between software. Examples of standard integrations include SIEM software, 2FA, Active Directory, and reporting tools. Application programming interfaces (API) play a critical role in policy orchestration and provisioning where multiple software applications are in use.

How Do You Choose the Right NGFW Solution?

To select the right NGFW for your organization, first ask these questions of your IT and security teams, as well as any business leaders involved in the buying process:

  • Pricing: What is your budget? Can you afford one of the most expensive NGFWs, or one designed for SMBs?
  • Expertise: How experienced is the team that would be implementing and managing this solution?
  • Team Size: How many employees will be able to dedicate time to its management? Do you have a small or large security team?
  • Key Features: What are the three most critical features in an NGFW for your business specifically?
  • Customer Service: How much support will you need from the vendor?

Once you’ve determined your budget, seek quotes from three or four NGFW vendors to make the decision process easier. Exclude choices that are incompatible with the size and capabilities of your company. Engage in in-depth discussions with your IT and security teams to assess their knowledge and ensure alignment with the chosen solution. For less experienced teams, prioritize user-friendly interfaces. Following the identification of critical features, consult reviews to locate firewalls that excel in those areas. For example, if sophisticated threat prevention is critical, investigate highly rated choices such as Barracuda for informed decision-making.

The following list of potential security priorities pairs your business’s need with a solution that’s traditionally highly rated by customers or specializes in providing that feature:

  • Intensive sandboxing needs: Check Point
  • Easy-to-manage user interface: Sophos
  • Reliable solution for SMBs: Fortinet, Sophos
  • Microsegmentation: Juniper Networks
  • Device and network clustering: Forcepoint
  • Customer support: Cisco, Huawei, Barracuda
  • Container protection: Palo Alto, Juniper Networks

How We Evaluated NGFW Solutions

In evaluating NGFW solutions, we structured our score criteria into five weighted categories, each with its own set of subcriteria based on various organizational demands. We assigned a score out of five to each NGFW solution and combined the scores per criteria to identify the final score and determine an overall winner. We also evaluated each vendor’s unique advantages and differentiating features.

The following criteria were employed, each with its own weighting based on its importance:

Cost – 20%

We assessed the cost and transparency of NGFW solutions by determining the availability and sufficiency of free trials or free plans, the accessibility and transparency of price information, and the overall pricing structures and plans.

Core Features – 25%

This criterion focused on the core features of NGFW solutions, such as scalability, visibility and control, centralized management, threat detection and prevention, container protection, and integration with security tools.

Non-core Features – 20%

Beyond the main functionality, enhancements such as SD-WAN, enhanced sandboxing, cloud compatibility, VPN compatibility, user-based policies, and reliability were also evaluated.

Customer Support – 20%

Customer support effectiveness and accessibility were critical factors, including considerations for customer support availability, live chat, email responsiveness, and the availability and quality of documentation, demos, and training resources.

Ease of Use and Configuration – 15%

This criterion included considerations for ease of use/UI, the availability and quality of knowledge base/resources, the technical competence required to set up, and the intuitiveness of the administration interface when assessing the user experience and ease of setup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Firewall Is Deployed the Most?

Determining the most deployed firewall varies based on organizational needs. However, industry giants such as Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet, and Cisco Secure Firewall are widely used in large organizations. The choice is determined by unique requirements, preferences, and the size of the company.

How Many Firewalls Should You Have?

The number of firewalls required by an organization is determined by its network architecture, security requirements, and segmentation strategy. Businesses typically deploy numerous firewalls for tiered protection. This could comprise perimeter firewalls, internal firewalls for network zone segmentation, and application-specific firewalls. The goal is to develop a defense-in-depth plan that is suited to the organization’s security requirements.

Bottom Line: Secure Your Network with Next-Generation Firewall Solutions

Choosing an NGFW needs a thorough understanding of your company’s budget, requirements, and staff expertise. Once you’ve determined these characteristics, generating a shortlist becomes simple. While setting up next-generation firewalls is challenging, the increased protection they provide justifies the expense. Adequate training for IT and security teams is critical, not just for improving corporate security but also for investing in overall team knowledge and future success.

Looking for another comprehensive security solution? Read our list of best unified threat management tools next.

This article was updated in December 2023 by Maine Basan.

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